When the Sadducees encounter Jesus with a technical question, he responds by humanizing and placing divine value upon each character in the Sadducees’ hypothetical scenario. Jesus’ response is about resurrection and about naming people as children of God and of light. The answer Jesus gives the Sadducees is about God, whose presence means life. This is about God’s promise of resurrection in the face of death, and about life in the face of and in spite of death.
Like Job, who was surrounded by the remnants of his lost life and still proclaimed hope, Jesus is in the midst of palpable tension that very soon will lead him to his own death, and yet he proclaims life. The author of this hope is God, whose very naming of a person brings that one to life. These texts proclaim hope in the face of hopelessness, and urge us to do the same.
The Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, try to trap Jesus. They formulate the convoluted case of a serial widow who marries a succession of seven brothers. Jesus responds by teaching about God, to whom all are alive and in whom all relationships are fulfilled.
27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to [Jesus] 28and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”
34Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”