November 11, 2001

Luke 20:27-38

Some Sadducees came up. This is the Jewish party that denies any possibility of resurrection. They asked, "Teacher, Moses wrote us that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to take the widow to wife and get her with child. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife, He died childless. The second married her and died, then the third, and eventually all seven had their turn, but no child. After all that, the wife died. That wife, now -- in the resurrection whose wife is she? All seven married her."

Jesus said, "Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those who are included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage nor, of course, with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, 'God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!' God isn't the God of dead men, but of the living. To [God] all are alive.

<The Message >


1. Is it the first experience, or the later experiences which is to be our guide. This is an on-going issue in Biblical interpretation. Some people think it is the first principle which is to be the guide and that later writings run the risk of misinterpreting the import of the first image. Others run it the other way around, that later pictures correct the dim glimmerings of a first impression.

I expect we all play with those to benefit our own current understanding. Sometimes we choose one way and sometimes another.

In this case, Jesus chooses the early experience of Moses over a later Mosaic rule. How would you have approached the trick question?

2. If you go back to Deuteronomy 15:5 ff. to read up on this leverite marriage process you will find the option of spitting in faces and shaming people. These kinds of rules often bring with them a focus of hierarchy taking precedence to care of individuals.

Be that as it may be, what would be an equivalent question today? How would you phrase this in terms of same-gender legalities? And, once having phrased it, how do you think Jesus would cut through our presuppositions and hypothetical straw arguments?

3. Marriage still is a major preoccupation here. As lovely as that gift of relationship is, how do we recognize its covenant responsibilities in light of a whole passel of covenants? Does an intimacy with GOD sometimes call one out of a covenantal call? Does an intimacy with GOD call all our covenants into a new focus?

For those of you who are married, how does this conversation challenge and deepen your marriage covenant?

For those of you who are not married, how does this passage challenge and deepen your intimacy with GOD?

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