Whose wife shall she be in the resurrection?

Only 36% of American adults believe that, after you die, your physical body will someday be resurrected. 54% do not believe so and 10% are undecided. (Scripts Howard News Service 4/5/06)

Resurrection

After Jesus had silenced the Pharisees and Herodians, the Sadducees try their hand at trapping Him. It has been said that the Pharisees were the ritualists, the Herodians the politicians and the Sadducees the rationalists. This is the only time in Mark’s gospel that the Sadducees appear, and their appearance is entirely characteristic of them. The Sadducees were not a large Jewish party. They were aristocratic and wealthy. The office of high priest was regularly held by a Sadducee. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, did not believe in any resurrection (v. 18). They came to Jesus with a test question designed to make the belief in an individual resurrection look ridiculous. Their question was a hypothetical one. If there were seven brothers (vv. 19-20) who each in turn married the same woman, but had no children (vv. 21-22), whose wife shall she be in the resurrection? (v. 23)?

The Jewish Law had a part called levirate marriage. The regulations are laid down in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. If a group of brothers lived together (that is a point that is omitted in the Sadducees’ quotation of the law) and if one of them died and left no children, it was the duty of the next to take his brother’s widow as wife and to raise up children to his brother. Theoretically, this would go on so long as there were brothers left and so long as no child was born. When a child was born, the child was to be the offspring of the original husband. The whole point of this was to ensure two things - first, that the family name continued, and second, that the property remained within the family.

Jesus rebuked these sophisticated religionists for not knowing the scripture or the power of God (v. 24). He explained how in the next life there will not be any marriage (v. 25). As for proof of the resurrection Jesus makes reference to Exodus 3:6 where God calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (v. 26). If God is the God of these patriarchs even yet, it means they must still be alive. “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (v. 27). The problem with the Sadducees was that they did not have a vital relationship with God, but instead just a dead ritual.

Application

How important is the resurrection of Jesus Christ to me? The resurrection is the basic difference between true Christianity and other religions? Because of this I serve a living Savior and not someone who is still dead, as in other religions.

Mark 12:18-27 (English Standard Version)

And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife." Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong."

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