Date: November 10, 2019
In our reading this week from Luke’s gospel, we find the Sadducees once again trying to make Jesus’ life miserable. These guys were the urban aristocrats and among the religious authorities from their day. They based their understanding of God on only the first five books of the Bible. Since the resurrection was not mentioned there they denied any belief in it. When the Sadducees ask Jesus about the resurrection, they are not really interested in knowing about it or considering what he has to say on the matter. Instead, they pose a riddle that is on the level of “Can God make a stone so big that even God cannot lift it?”
Rationalistic in spirit, the Sadducees doubted the concept of resurrection, the restoration of life to the whole person on the last day. Trying to discern Jesus’ theology of the afterlife – and even in the first century, Jewish intellectuals were well aware of the separation of soul and body and the afterlife adventures of the liberated soul – they ask him a curious question about marriage beyond the grave. Jesus, as often is the case, doesn’t give a definitive answer. He simply places the answer where it belongs, in the context of God’s graceful care for humankind. The dead will live on, God is the God of the living, and we will live on. The details of the afterlife are apparently unimportant; what matters is God’s fidelity and enduring love. God is alive, God is faithful, and it well with our souls.