Sunday, November 6th, 2016
A Reflection on Luke 20:27-40, N.A.B.
By: Larry T
Riddle me is a figure of speech that means: Go ahead and try to explain that to me. It’s easy for us to shake our heads and smile at the Sadducees’ foolishness at approaching Jesus, the Author of Life, with a riddle, a brainteaser which they had used to stump the Pharisees for years.
In Judaism of Jesus’ time, a childless widow would marry the brother of her late husband, according to the custom known as levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5). The law was designed to perpetuate the name of a man who died childless. The hapless woman in the Sadducees’ made-up story suffered through seven childless marriages and finally died. At the resurrection, whose wife would she be? The haughty Sadducees had cooked up this riddle to show that resurrection would lead to ridiculous results; it suited their purpose perfectly because they didn’t believe in a resurrection whereas the Pharisees did. The riddle had never been satisfactorily explained, that is, until the high and mighty Sadducees decided to challenge Jesus with it.
27 Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him,
28 saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’
29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless.
30 Then the second
31 and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless.
32 Finally the woman also died.
33 Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her.”
34 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry;
35 but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.
36 They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.
37 That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
38 and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
39 Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.”
40 And they no longer dared to ask him anything.
– Luke 20:27-40 N.A.B.
– Luke 20:27-40 N.A.B.
The eavesdropping scribes might have been clapping and high-fiving when Jesus solved the riddle by contrasting life in the current age with life in the age to come where marriage will not be a part of the age to come because one of them approached him and said, “Teacher, you have answered well.” Not only had the arrogant Sadducees, along with their gloomy doctrine of no life after death, been put in their place, but the scribes and Pharisees could look joyfully forward to life after death.
At this confrontation Jesus not only upheld the doctrine of resurrection, but he also spoke of the age to come noting that “only those who are deemed worthy” would have life in the coming age. Since worthiness to enter the age to come cannot be grasped or assumed because it comes from God’s judgement, and is therefore a grace, Jesus’ words bring endless joy to those souls God calls to himself, to those who hear and obey. Are these words of dread or discomfort to those souls who hear and fail to respond or understand? If they aren’t, they should be. Do those graceless souls hate God? Probably not, it’s His commandments that they dislike and choose to ignore.
What can we learn from this Gospel story that has meaning in our modern world? Our earthly transformation, the path to worthiness, begins when we start to model ourselves after Jesus by following his example and his teachings. This is how He is spiritually resurrected millions of times a day, even by the slightest act of kindness performed in His name; it is how He continues to live through us. In following Jesus’ teaching we announce His resurrection to the rest of the world.