In this morning's Gospel, the Sadducees are playing games, trying to stump Jesus with an impossible dilemma - “If she had seven husbands, whose wife will she be?” It’s an outlandish “what-if” scenario, the absurd possibility of six of the so-called “brother-in-law” marriages prescribed in the Book of Deuteronomy. What makes it even more ridiculous is that the Sadducees don’t even believe in the resurrection. For them, the dead are dead, period. It seems pretty clear- they only want to taunt Jesus. “Let’s see how he gets out of this one.” And we can imagine his frustration.
But Jesus is undaunted. With characteristic beauty, integrity and directness; he takes the Sadducees’ crazy story, flips it around and draws them and us into a more astounding revelation. Marriage in its beauty, intimacy, and commitment is appropriate to this present age, but it will come to an end.* And raising up heirs, so that family and race may endure, will be inessential in the age to come. Something new, breathtaking in its beauty, is to come - the reality of eternal life, unending intimate relationship with God and with those we have loved, in God’s Kingdom.
Photograph of grisaille glass in the Abbey church by Brother Daniel. *Insight from Joseph Fitzmyer, Luke: Anchor Bible Commentary.