The question about the resurrection

Published November 10, 2019, 12:57 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Lk 20:27-38 [or 20:27, 34-38]

reflectionstodaySome Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

God of the living

The Sadducees are a party or group within Judaism in the New Testament period. The party is composed of the priestly aristocracy and their dependents and supporters. The Sadducees accept only the written Torah and totally reject the oral, or traditions held by the Pharisees. Since they claim that there is no reference to the resurrection in the written Torah, they do not believe in it. Neither do they accept the existence of angels and spirits which they take as innovations imported from Zoroastrianism.

In their debate with Jesus, the Sadducees present a hypothetical question about a woman with seven successive husbands. This is rooted in the Levirate law of Moses that requires a man to marry his brother’s childless widow. The firstborn son she bears shall continue the line of the deceased brother (cf Dt 25:5-10). This law seeks to guarantee family continuity, centered on this-worldly existence. How will a woman in this case live with seven husbands simultaneously—if indeed there is resurrection and the age to come? The Sadducees imply that this will put the Law of Moses to ridicule.

Jesus’ riposte explains that the life to come is not exactly a continuation of life in this world. Here, human beings marry and reproduce to ensure the continuity of the human race. But those found worthy of the resurrection are immortal, like angels. They are “children [sons] of God,” which is a favorite Old Testament name for angels (cf Gn 6:2). Thus, Jesus—contrary to the beliefs of the Sadducees—proclaims the reality of the resurrection and of angels. Finally, he disproves the non-existence of the dead by his interpretation of the written Law. The fact that Moses called “Lord” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob means that somehow God sustains the patriarchs in the “age to come.” They are alive in God, since only the living can have a God, and God calls himself the God of the patriarchs.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: