By Fr. Felix (African Times Guest Writer)

Since they did not believe in the resurrection or

any sort of life after death, the Sadducees are

trying to make fun of Jesus. By the Levirate

Law of Judaism, if I marry and die without

begetting a son, my nearest male relative is

bound to marry my widow and raise up a son in

my name to carry on my line.

The Sadducees’ neat mockery is to ask what

happens if this is repeated seven times (and

worse than that, for the perfect number ‘seven’

means ‘ad infinitum’). The first answer which

Jesus gives is that they misconceive the

scriptures: in heaven there is no such institution

as marriage: since there is no death, there is no

need for procreation, and the overwhelming love

of God needs no supplement.

Then Jesus, again with typical neatness, turns

their argument by returning to this fundamental

text of scripture, God’s reply to Moses at the

Burning Bush. Not only is this in the present

tense, ‘I am (still) the God of patriarchs long

dead’, but it is the fundamental text which at a

critical moment in Israel’s history guarantees

God’s rescue and protection to his people

through thick and thin.

This is one more instance of Jesus’ deep

control of scripture, of the way he passes over

the flippant and superficial arguments of his

opponents to penetrate to the basic sense of

scripture (compare his answer about divorce in

Mark 10, commented on Friday, Week 7),. To

God no one is ‘dead and gone’, but we all remain

safe in his hands. Luke alone adds, ‘for to him

everyone is alive.’

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