Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her."
Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."
What happens to us when we die. We are given few clues. There is no clear description from Jesus. He talks of many mansions. He talks of heaven as a paradise. This is a clear variation from the view of afterlife on the part of first century Judaism. The Sadducees did not really believe in an afterlife so it is clear in this passage from Luke that they were trying to trip him up with a convoluted question. Jesus tells the Sadducees that marriage is not a part of heaven's order of things. This of course deflates them and they move on.
This passage from the gospel does raise a lot of questions for me. Does our soul go somewhere when we die? Some Sadducee believed the soul went to Sheol, a dark grim existence where all souls went regardless of how they lived your life.
Jesus message was a message of hope. That message of hope is just as true today as it was two thousand years ago. Life in the first century was very difficult. Death from disease was common. Roman rule was harsh and punishment for perceived crimes was brutal.
If you were born into an impoverished family there was very little chance that things would change for you during your lifetime.
Jesus was a breath of fresh air. He talked of a heavenly kingdom. He told people that the afterlife was real and that when they died they would share in God's eternal kingdom. His message resonated with people who saw little hope in their material existence. It can be argued that people thronged to Jesus to see the miracles but the real and lasting impact was the message. Jesus told them that God is not the God of the dead but the God of the living.
This message rings true for us as well. We certainly have it easier today than they had in Jesus time but the covenant Jesus established with us and God is just as real today as it was then. In Jeremiah the prophet says, “ I will put my law within them and I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.”
Jesus gave us a framework on how to live our lives. He told us to love our God and to love each other. This new covenant was not about when we should do this or that. It was about love.
Linda Gillespie comes to the church every month and changes our bulletin board. It is clear that she thinks through the message she wants to give and it is always uplifting. She does this out of love. It is her way of living her Christianity. At the bottom of the bulletin board is a bunch of leaves. She has asked that we write on the leaves the things we are thankful for. I told her we would.
I know I asked you this question a couple of weeks ago but I will ask it again. What are you thankful for?