And the 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.” Mk. 12:18-27
Notice the absurdity of the question. Is this a likely scenario? Not really. This is purely a snag attempt. The Pharisees are better at these, even though they accomplish no more than the Sadducees.
But then, you may point out that the question was meant to be absurd because the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. “Reducing to absurdity” is a fine defeater for an illogical conclusion. Did they succeed?
Jesus actually turns the table on them to show that their question is, in fact, absurd in light of a correct understanding of Scripture and an experiential knowledge of God’s power.
A few thoughts about Jesus’ response:
1. Jesus believes that truth and the right interpretation of it is possible from the Scriptures.
2. Furthermore, He expects those who teach to accurately understand the Bible’s implications. See the burning bush. Would you have understood what God intended to reveal about Himself in that account? Do the details matter when it comes to Scripture?
3. As far as I can tell, Jesus’ statement here about marriage and the resurrection is new revelation (in the sense that it is not taught explicitly in the OT). The relationships we cherish in this life will substantially change. We will no longer have a sense of loneliness and incompleteness in the life to come, but will be like the angels in heaven. They are complete in God and have no need of special companionship. As my pastor says, “The lamb is all the glory” in the new heavens and the new earth. God will fill all the empty spaces. He will be at center stage.
4. The power of God is of a higher order than any power we are familiar with in this world. The resurrection, which seems foolish to the natural man, is a display of this power. Hydraulic power can move a lot of dirt around, even move mountains, electric power is awesome (ever seen lightning strike?), atomic power can level cities, but no power in this life can raise the dead.