The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the religious leaders in Jesus’ time. They were not fond of Jesus to say the least because He challenged their beliefs and practices. One day the Sadducees decided to try to trick Jesus by asking Him a riddle. They hoped Jesus would not be able to answer it, and thus prove there was no resurrection which is what they believed. The Leviticus law said that if a husband died, his brother was to marry his wife, so there would be sons to carry on the dead man’s family name. The Sadducees carried it to the extreme by asking Jesus what if there were seven brothers and none of them had any sons, who would the woman be married to when she died and went to heaven. (Luke 20: 27-38)
Jesus told them they didn’t really understand the Scriptures or the power of God (Matthew 22:29) – that relationships would be different in heaven than here on earth. People won’t marry, but husbands and wives and families will know each other. We’ll have gloried bodies and personalities. We won’t ever die again but live with God and Jesus forevermore. We will all be our “bestest” selves in every way. Jesus tells them we will be like the angels – not angels, but like them because we will serve and praise God forever. (Sometimes we hear people say that those who die become angels, but that is not true. Angels are not dead human beings.)
Jesus finally quotes from the Old Testament Book of Exodus and tells them about Moses calling God the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who all died. God is the God of the living, not the dead, and we are all God’s children because He loves us and wants us for His own always.
Death will come to everyone eventually, but it is nothing to fear if we know God and love Jesus. Our loved ones will always be with us, and God will send the Holy Spirit and angels to help them and us get through anything that could ever happen. We will be sad when someone we love dies, but we can be assured that they are OK, happy, and with Jesus in heaven and know that we will see them again someday. Those things are what we really need to remember. Death is not the end – just a change of address and a new beginning.
Let’s pray. Father God, thank You for being there for us always – even in death. Help us to remember that we will go to live with You forever then, so we don’t have to worry about it or be scared. When someone dies, they are with You, and we will see them again someday in the future. They are OK, and we are Ok because we are all Your own children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.