Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; and the second married the widow and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.”
Do you remember from your high school math what an axiom is? Well, an axiom is a statement that serves as a starting point for further reasoning and arguments. If this starting point is wrong, then, obviously, everything that follows is going to be wrong. In our passage today, we find the Sadducees coming to Jesus with a very fanciful scenario. A woman had been married to seven brothers. They all died. What happens after the resurrection? Whose wife does she become?
Why did the Sadducees ask Jesus this question? They may have been out to trap Jesus, but let’s be charitable and believe they had no ulterior motive. Why, then? Well, they didn’t believe in the resurrection, and they were hoping that Jesus, being the wise celebrity that he was, would endorse their views. But they made a basic mistake. They had their axiom — their basic premise — wrong. They seemed to have forgotten that God is the God of the living. And if he is the God of the living, then no one really dies. Yes, we die physically but we will be raised to eternal life, and when this happens we become like angels, so there is no question of being married.
Now, why did they get their starting premise wrong? Listen to what Jesus says, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mark 12:24). And that’s why we get things wrong too! One, we don’t know the Scriptures. Two, we don’t know the power of God. Let’s look at them in turn. Firstly, if we don’t know the Scriptures, how do we determine the truth? For instance, how do we tell right from wrong? Without a moral compass to follow, we will do whatever suits us at a particular moment in time. Consequently, we will invariably end up doing the wrong thing, because, if we don’t know Scripture, our starting point is likely to be wrong.
Secondly, if we don’t know the power of God, how will we lead the lives of abundance that Christ says we will live? Because if we don’t understand his power, we will depend on our own abilities, our own strength, our own intellect, and our own will to achieve or accomplish things. This leads to us being in constant worry, stress, and fear. Doesn’t that describe most of us? But when we understand God’s power, not as something abstract, but as something that has relevance to our lives, then we will lead lives of peace, joy, and freedom. You see?
This is what Jesus did. In reply to the questions the sad-guys asked him, he went to the Scriptures. He quoted Exodus 3:6 and then applied the truth contained in it to the answer. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had walked the earth hundreds of years ago, were alive unto God. He didn’t speak of them in the past tense because they had not ceased to exist; they had simply gone to a waiting place to await their resurrection. As for the power of God, didn’t he demonstrate it in everything he said and did, including his reply to the Sadducees.
So, if we want to get it right, let us know the scriptures and the power of God.