World English Bible translation
12:18There came to him Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection. They asked him, saying, 12:19 "Teacher, Moses wrote to us, 'If a man's brother dies, and leaves a wife behind him, and leaves no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up offspring for his brother.' 12:20 There were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and dying left no offspring. 12:21 The second took her, and died, leaving no children behind him. The third likewise; 12:22 and the seven took her and left no children. Last of all the woman also died. 12:23 In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be of them? For the seven had her as a wife."
12:24Jesus answered them, "Isn't this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God? 12:25 For when they will rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 12:26 But about the dead, that they are raised; haven't you read in the book of Moses, at the Bush, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' 12:27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are therefore badly mistaken."
The chief priest, scribes and the elders had begun this section of the Gospel of Mark by testing Jesus about what was the authority by which Jesus performed miracles and taught. Next the Pharisees questioned Jesus about whether it was right to pay taxes to the Romans. In Today's Scriptures, another of the leading groups of the religious establishment in Jerusalem came to Jesus and put Him to the test. Today's group is the Sadducees.
The Sadducees were a group of politically and economically powerful people that were among the highest social strata of Jewish society. The chief priests were usually Pharisees, as were many of the wealthiest people in Jerusalem. Not much is known about the religious convictions of the Sadducees. They were much more concerned with political and economic matters than they were about religious matters. We are told in this passage that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the body after death. So they devised a trick question about the resurrection that was based on the Mosaic Law.
Jesus' answer, quite frankly, raises more questions for us than it answers. Aside from the concrete concept that the Father is God of the living and that there assuredly will be a resurrection, His answer does not tell us much. What does it mean that those that are raised will be "like angels in heaven"? What does it mean that we will neither marry nor be given in marriage? People who are looking for concrete answers to what our lives will be like after death will be disappointed with this passage.
But, this is typical of all the passages we have about the life that is to come. Will we know each other? Will there be work to do? Will we all be in one place? There are allusions to some of these questions in Scripture and there are certainly no limits to "experts" who with a great deal of confidence will answer all of your questions for you. But, from reading the scriptures directly and from common sense interpretation, many of the questions that we ask about life after death remain a mystery.
This cannot be unintentional. If God wanted to clearly communicate to us what each one of us would be doing in the next life, He is certainly capable of telling us. It may well be that we would not be able to understand it. It may be that our finite minds are not capable of grasping infinity any more than one born blind is capable of understanding sight or colors. Or it may be that God chooses not to give us these answers.
We live with the reality of death. This life is finite. It is enough to know that there will be a resurrection. Of this, we can be absolutely certain. But, the goal of our lives today is to live as servants of Christ - today - in this life. And, our goal is to live by faith - today. Would it really help people to be given more information? Probably not. We all know that we are going to die. Yet every day we live our lives in denial of death, as if we can cheat the inevitable by not thinking about it. Would it help more people to be saved if everyone knew what eternity was really going to be like? Certainly not. Those who listened would be those who listen now. Unbelievers would simply deny the revelation.
When we face death, when we lose people that we love, we want answers. We want to know, are they better off? We want a sign … we want to understand. But, it is in these moments that God makes His greatest demand. He asks us simply to believe. He asks us to have faith. He asks us to leave everything in His hands. When we are at our weakest point, we don't need to have all the answers. We need to have a God that we can believe in. And this is the greatest comfort that God can give us in our time of need. He can give us faith. And He can give us hope.
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