The Sadducees came to Jesus. Since they claim that there is no resurrection, they questioned him in this way, “Master, in the Scriptures Moses gave us this law: If anyone dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the woman, and with her have a baby, who will be considered the child of his deceased brother. Now, there were seven brothers. The first married a wife, but he died without leaving any children. The second took the wife, and he also died leaving no children. The same thing happened to the third. In fact, all seven brothers died, leaving no children. Last of all the woman died. Now, in the resurrection, to which of them will she be wife? For all seven brothers had her as wife.”
Jesus replied, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry, but are like the angels in heaven. Now, about the resurrection of the dead, have you never had thoughts about the burning bush in the book of Moses? God said to Moses: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is the God not of the dead but of the living. You are totally wrong.”
The Sadducees were aristocrats and more political than religious. They favored the Roman rule, because they received favors and money. Though they did not believe in the resurrection, it seemed at first that their question was in favor of the resurrection. They used this belief hypocritically to further their own agenda.
Levirate marriage in Judaism is mandated by Torah (Dt 25:5-10) by which the brother of a man who died without children has an obligation to marry the widow. This is also a common tradition among the Huns, Mongols and Tibetans. The intent of the law is continuation of the family and financial security of the widow. The Sadducees’ question presented subtleties, but more so their ignorance about God. If there is no resurrection, dead men don’t rise, there is no remarrying in heaven, therefore, God is not of the living, but of nothingness.
Henri Nouwen said, “Unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centered monologue to a God-centered dialogue.” When learned theologians and wise men pray, they think about God and not with God. God becomes a theological disputation, an abstraction, not a living person. God in this sense is scrutinized, almost a nobody, an object of discussion.
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