The CLEVER question about the wife who saw off 7 husbands!
Luke 20 v 27-39 “Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” 34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’. 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no-one dared to ask him any more questions.”
Jesus has known attacks of every kind, deceit, manipulation and flattery. But here we read of what a group called the Sadducees thought was a very clever question designed to trick him.
The Sadducees were a group of Jews who were known more for what they didn’t believe than what they did.
They held to the Torah, the first 5 Old Testament books of Moses. But nothing much else.
They did not believe in angels or spirits, life after death or anything supernatural.
More importantly to us here as we have read these verses, they also did not believe in what their question suggested they did!
In what to us seems like a crazy hypothetical story, they then ask this, “Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her? But they don’t believe in the resurrection. So they are not interested in the answer to their own question because they don’t believe in what the question is intimating! This is therefore an attempt to trick Jesus. But it is laden with assumption. Will she make the resurrection? Will the seven husbands make it? The Sadducees are trying to appear superior, clever, above anyone else. In a few minutes Jesus made them loom ordinary and foolish.
- Marriage is for the world we live in.
- Resurrection to life is for those considered worthy. Not everyone then.
- In that resurrected world we will not be in need of marriage. It will not have the same importance in the after- life.
- In that resurrected world there will be no death and in that sense we will be like the angels.
And in a grand finale twist of the knife, Jesus adds:
- Even their hero, Moses, believed in the resurrection.
The Sadducees may have died out but they still exist in different forms today. We all know the clever question. “Why does God allow suffering?” coming from someone who doesn’t believe in God is difficult to answer because if there is no God then why is there a need to ask the question? But even if the question is genuine the answer is the same as when Jesus implied, ‘your picture of the resurrection isn’t the one I have.’ The answer is ‘your picture of God is not the God I worship’. ‘The picture of a God who controls our will and prevents our selfish greed and our potential to be wicked is not the God I worship’.
So the next time you are quizzed, slow the question down, the answer may lie within the question. The CLEVER question isn’t always that clever.