Wed, November 2, 202210 mins readFather Hans Buob

32nd Sunday

Biblical Homilies on the Sunday Gospels in Reading Year C

The Question of the Sadducees by Harold Copping

Bible passages


Luke 20:27-38

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him, 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.' Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childlessly. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise, all the seven died childlessly. Finally, the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her." Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry and remarry; 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. 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. 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; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

Biblical Homilies


"Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him, 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.' Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be? For all seven had been married to her."" (cf. verse 27-33)

In this Gospel, we again find a situation that Jesus uses to add a teaching. Who are the Sadducees who approach Jesus here? There were two main groups in Judaism, the so-called Pharisees and the Sadducees. However, both seduced the people instead of leading them to the Word of God. The Pharisees were of a certain hypocrisy: they had tassels and flaunted their piety on the outside so that the people would recognize them. The Sadducees, on the other hand, represented bare unbelief under the pretense of knowledge. The Pharisees clung to the law - we have seen this in many Gospels -, the Sadducees to their arguments and above all to freedom of spirit.

For example, the Sadducees denied the resurrection. For them, everything ended after death and with the example they give Jesus in this Gospel, they want to demonstrate exactly that. They want to show that even Moses did not believe in the resurrection when he demanded remarriage. Moses demanded in the Law: if a man dies and leaves no children, his brother shall marry that woman and beget him children, so to speak. The Sadducees use this example to show that Moses did not believe in the resurrection either, because it is impossible for this woman to have seven husbands in the resurrection. That would be against the law.

This is, of course, a completely wrong view of our relationship with God. Whoever thinks this way despises the one who cannot show the same as he does. This happens all too often. If we as Christians try to live seriously, we will realize how quickly we are in danger of despising other people who apparently do not "render" the same before God as we do. Our own supposed righteousness is then taken as the standard for others. But through this condemnation of others, we ultimately condemn ourselves. Therefore, we must always examine ourselves very carefully in our hearts in this regard!

"Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry and remarry; 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. 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." (cf. verse 34-36)

Jesus takes advantage of the Sadducees' question, which they use to deceive him and try to make him claim that there is no resurrection, to give an important lesson to all the people who follow him: Earthly relationships are not continued in the hereafter, for marriage in this world has the service of completing the number of the called. In this world, the people of God, the Bride of Christ, the Church that belongs to Christ, grows. The people of God represent the bride, Christ the bridegroom, in the eternal wedding of the Lamb we call heaven. When the Body of Christ is completed at the end of this age in the resurrection world, there will be no need for marriage.

Jesus calls the members of his body sons of God. The completion of his body in heaven is synonymous with the completion of Jesus' sonship. Jesus is already in perfection now. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, but we are his mystical body. We belong to him completely, so the sonship also has to be completed and Jesus, in accordance with his human nature, is still awaiting completion. This expectation is fulfilled when the whole Christ, the whole body of Christ, which is us, has been completed and has reached where there is no longer diminishment or death. Then it is no longer necessary to increase to replenish those who have died. Then the Bride is perfected. They will all be children of God, not husband and wife in the sense of marriage. They will all be the Bride of Christ and full sonship. Paul says, "Now we are children of God. But what we shall be has not yet been made manifest." (1 John 3:2). So what we will be when Christ and we, his mystical body, are with him in the final consummation is not yet revealed. The Bride is then prepared for the eternal wedding of the Lamb and no longer needs any additions. Therefore, in eternity, marriage no longer exists.

This completely refutes the reasoning of the Sadducees. They want to prove that if there is a resurrection, then the woman in their example will have seven husbands after the resurrection. That would be against the law of Moses and therefore cannot be.

So Moses did not believe in the resurrection either. Jesus refutes this claim by saying clearly: The laws of this world no longer apply in the final world. After the marriage of the Lamb, other laws apply.

"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; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." (cf. verse 37-38)

The interesting thing here is that the most important proof that Jesus brings is always the Word of God and not our rational proofs. These are very legitimate, but Jesus' real compelling proof is always the Word of God. And so he also gives the Sadducees a word from God as the most important proof that there is a resurrection, a continuation of life after death, a glory and an eternity.

The Sadducees want to claim that Moses did not believe in the resurrection either. Moses calls God the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But these three have been dead for a long time. Since this God is not a God of the dead, but of the living, there must be life after death.

So Jesus refers to the Scriptures as the strongest proof. He does the same, by the way, with John when he sends his disciples to Jesus because he has become uncertain in prison and asks him, "Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for another?" (Luke 7:19) John has seen Jesus do other things that he, John, has proclaimed. John proclaimed words of the prophet Isaiah: When the Messiah comes, he will cleanse the threshing floor, cut off sinners, etc. That is true. However, Isaiah proclaimed the Christ who will come again to judge. How does Jesus respond? He does not comfort John with human words. He answers him with the words of God from the same prophet Isaiah to whom John refers: "The blind see again and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is he who finds no cause for stumbling in me". (Mt 11:5f.; cf. Is 26:19) He gives him the certainty of the Word of God.

We often struggle with human words and arguments, which is not wrong. However, the most important argument for the believer is the Word of God. It is absolutely true.

Jesus is trying to tell his hearers very clearly: there is a resurrection. He is now in Jerusalem, shortly before his death. He himself will bear witness to this word through his resurrection. This is why it is important that we do not allow ourselves to be disturbed by false statements. Nowadays we hear again and again that after death everything is over, etc.... People take their lives and believe that then everything is over. But we cannot tear our life away because it continues. If we believe in the resurrection, we must decide in this life. Atheism and disbelief in the resurrection are the same. People are often blind. They close their eyes, so to speak. Many deny the resurrection and think that they can then live as they wish. They even give up their rational and logical thinking, which is quite incomprehensible, and just live and tell themselves that there is no resurrection. Here Jesus clearly says: there is a resurrection. Therefore, we have to make a clear decision in our lives.