That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
Have you watched the movie “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”? If you ever want a change from the ultra-violent movies being made these days, you might want to see this immensely entertaining musical made in the 50s. I was reminded of this movie when I read this passage today, where the Sadducees ask Jesus a hypothetical question about what happens to a bride if she happens to be married to seven brothers, all of who pop it. “In the resurrection,” they wanted to know, “whose wife will the woman be?” I doubt this was an original question. They had probably asked it before, trying to “prove” that there was no resurrection.
The question had its basis in Deuteronomy 25:5-6 which said that if brothers were living together and one of them died without a son, the widow must not marry outside the family. She had to marry her husband’s brother. This was to perpetuate the lineage of each tribe, which takes special significance when we realize that Jesus had to be born from one of them. Anyway, Jesus’ answer throws some light on a question that we might have about what happens to the relationships we have on earth when we get to heaven. Do our spouses remain our spouses? Do our children remain our children?
No, they don’t. The universe as we know it will cease to exist, replaced by another universe (see Revelation 21:1,4). In this universe, there won’t be death—or marriage—because our bodies will be different. They will be glorified bodies. What kind of bodies will these be? I can’t even begin to imagine. People asked Paul the same thing, and he said: “But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else (1 Corinthians 15:35-37). I think the point he was making is we won’t know until it happens!
Will we recognize each other? Given that both Elijah and Moses were recognizable by Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-13), we will be able to recognize one another, although it might take some doing. Consider how long it took some of his disciples to recognize Jesus after his resurrection. So, if you do recognize me when you get up there, please say hello. But while you are still on earth, you might want to watch “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”
May the Spirit be with you.