The Question of Resurrection and Marriage
27. Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30. The second 31. and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32. Finally, the woman died too. 33Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
34. Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36. and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37. But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
39. Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40. And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
“…they are like the angels.”
“They will neither marry, no be given in marriage, and they can no longer die, for they are like the angels.”
What can we glean from this short statement by Jesus to the Sadducees?
Yes, there is resurrection.
No, it won’t be like you, or I, probably think.
In Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees’ question of marriage after resurrection, he only hints at the reality of resurrection! Yet, even from those slight hints, we can already know that resurrection will be nothing like we think (or rather “assume”).
What if we take Jesus literally? We’ll be like the angels when we’re resurrected? Cool. What are they like?
6. In appearance their form was human, 6. but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands.
10. Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11. Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. 12. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.
2. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
If we are to take Jesus literally, then THAT is like the resurrected body. Like angels. Four-faced, winged and cloven-hoofed angels. Really nightmarish angels. Can you imagine seeing one of those creatures and suddenly it says, “Hello! It’s me! Grandma!”
Maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t take Jesus’ words literally, and for the sake of being reasonable, just admit that we can’t know what resurrection is going to be like. And if you claim to, you’re kidding yourself, because you sure as hell don’t want it to be like literal angels.
The bottom lines is, we can’t know what resurrection will be like.
Jesus gave them an answer which has a permanently valid truth in it. He said that we must not think of heaven in terms of this earth. Life there will be quite different, because we will be quite different. It would save a mass of misdirected ingenuity, and not a little heartbreak , if we ceased to speculate on what heaven is like and left things to the love of God.
BARCLAY, William (2012-06-25). The Gospel of Luke (New Daily Study Bible) (p. 297). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
We will be made new and vastly different.
The Resurrection Body According to Paul
1 Corinthians 15
35. But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36. How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
Our current fleshy homes (our earthly bodies) are but a seed, according to Paul. But if we are a seed, what does the resulting thing which grows from us look like?
He (Paul) takes the analogy of a seed. The seed is put in the ground and dies, but in due course it rises again; and does so with a very different kind of body from that with which it was sown. Paul is showing that, at one and the same time, there can be dissolution, difference and yet continuity. The seed is dissolved; when it rises again, there is a vast difference in its body; and yet, in spite of the dissolution and the difference, it is the same seed. So, our earthly bodies will dissolve; they will rise again in very different form – but it is the same person who rises. Dissolved by death, changed by resurrection, it is still we who exist.
Barclay, William (2010-11-05). The Letters to the Corinthians (New Daily Study Bible) (p. 185). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
We cannot recognize the resurrected body/life (a tree) from what we know of our life/body now (an acorn). But it is originated from the same “stuff”. The same, yet vastly different.
“Resurrection NOW” Rather Than Later
Some may say, “But Trig, Jesus was resurrected. He was still the same Jesus. We could recognize him just the same.”
Really? Then you should probably read my post on how “funny” a resurrection Jesus really had: no one could recognize him!
The fact is, we understand little to nothing about resurrection; our own or Jesus’. Why, then, should we teach it as a core tenet of Christian belief? I would put forward the idea that theology focused upon “resurrection later” is actually harmful to the mission of Jesus on Earth: Kingdom NOW! Resurrection NOW!
I challenge pastors and theologians to seriously consider a renewal of “Resurrection NOW”, a.k.a “born again” theology. No not the tired, worn out 1990′s Evangelical brand of “born again” for purely personal salvation, but in the Apostle Paul’s sense of transformation and change.
While we live out small, meaningless lives filled with self-centric thinking and self-obsessed choices, we are but acorns… seeds of divine love and possibility, waiting to die to our selfish lives and transform into something new. Once we have fully matured in Christ’s selfless love for the world, compassion for others and passion for the Kingdom on Earth, we will be unrecognizable by our old traits. We will be something transformed and new.
That is a hopeful concept that can inspire change now. Not for the sake of self, but for the world.
Transition the focus off of the life-after, and into the life now. We know nothing about the former, and everything about the latter. We can do nothing to change the life-after. We can change everything about the life-NOW.
Let’s worry about justice, compassion and equality in this life now, and leave worrying about the “truth” about resurrection once we’re dead.
Those are priorities I can live with (and be resurrected with).