GOSPEL READING: Mark 12:18-27
18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, 19 “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 wife, and raise up children for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; 21 and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; 22 and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” 24 Jesus said to them, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”
Meditation: How reliable is the belief that all will be raised from the dead? The Sadducees, who were a group of religious leaders from the upper classes in Jesus’ time, did not believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead to eternal life. They could not conceive of heaven beyond what they could see with their naked eyes! Aren’t we often like them? We don’t recognize spiritual realities because we try to make heaven into an earthly image we can touch and see. The Sadducees came to Jesus with a test question to make the resurrection look ridiculous. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, did not believe in the existence of immortal beings – whether humans, angels, or evil spirits. Their religion was literally grounded in an earthly image of heaven which ended in death.
Jesus offers proof to immortality – life without end
Jesus responds to their argument by dealing with the fact of the resurrection and immortal life. Jesus shows that God is a living God of a living people. The Scriptures give proof of it. In Exodus 3:6, God calls himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God was the friend of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when they lived on the earth. That friendship with God could not cease with death. David in the Psalms also speaks of the reality of immortal life with God. In Psalm 73:23-24 we pray through the words of David: “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
Through Christ’s resurrection we, too, can rise again to eternal life with God
The Holy Spirit reveals to us the eternal truths of God’s unending love and the life he desires to share with us for all eternity. Paul the Apostle, quoting from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:4; 65:17) states: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” God has revealed to us through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). The promise of paradise – heavenly bliss and unending life with an all-loving God – is beyond human reckoning. We have only begun to taste the first-fruits! Do you believe the Scriptures and do you know the power of the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and who gives us the assurance of everlasting life as well?
May the Lord Jesus put his hands on our eyes also, for then we too shall begin to look not at what is seen but at what is not seen. May he open the eyes that are concerned not with the present but with what is yet to come, may he unseal the heart’s vision, that we may gaze on God in the Spirit, through the same Lord, Jesus Christ, whose glory and power will endure throughout the unending succession of ages. (Prayer of Origen, 185-254 AD)
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.