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Resurrection – Luke 20:27-40

pharisee_thumb_1Resurrection – Luke 20:27-40 


The Sadducees formed the traditional priestly rulers of the Temple. As they only accepted the first five books of the Bible as normative, they held fast to the older idea in Israel, that there was no resurrection after death. Ideas of resurrection and after-life were very recent in Jewish thought. Thus they tried to test Jesus through a question which should make him look ridiculous. They posed the theoretical question of a woman who, in accordance with the Law of Israel, which allows a childless widow to remarry in the family of her husband, marries seven brothers in an attempt to raise up family to the clan. If there is a resurrection, ‘to whom will she be wife?’

Jesus gives two answers. He first shows that they have completely misunderstood what the resurrection is. There will be a transformation of the children of mortals into the children of God. The problem with the Sadducees is that they could only think in terms of and extension of what they already experienced. They were not open to the power of God, acting through the experience of death that leads to life. Had they understood the power of God they would have admitted that his intervention through death could only produce something beyond all human imagining, and certainly beyond human control and law.

Jesus second response reminds the Sadducees of Moses’ words at the burning bush. Moses spoke of YHWH as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But the three Patriarchs were long since dead in the days of Moses. Yet YHWH is still their God, able to say: “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” He is a God of the living, and thus, despite their deaths on this side of life, they must be alive to him. ‘For to him all are alive (v.38).’

Jesus’ teaching on the life which will always be ours is central to the Christian faith. A God who only directs and cares for human life on this side of death can never be part of the Christian faith. Yet, the world and its social structures live the present life as if it were the only one. Death is not the end of our story and our Christian faith guides and teaches us to live lives marked by the joy and hope that our ultimate resting in God can give.

(Adapted from This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year C, by Francis J. Moloney, pages 178-179)

Luke 20:27-40

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Question about the Resurrection

27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28 and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man[a] shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30 then the second 31 and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

34 Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but 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. 36 Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37 And 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. 38 Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him another question.