There are often questions in people’s minds about how relationships will continue beyond death into life beyond death. These are not new questions. The Sadducees used their questioning on a specific aspect of relationships beyond the grave with the motive of discrediting Jesus’ assertion regarding not only his own resurrection but all ideas that resurrection was in God’s plan at all. The Sadducees were mainly from aristocratic and priestly families. They were in the majority in the Sanhedrin, the ruling religious council. They were conservative in their beliefs and practices. They rejected all the Old Testament as God’s word with the exception of the Mosaic books, Genesis to Deuteronomy. Based on their understanding of the law they rejected the idea of the resurrection. The Pharisees in contrast did believe in resurrection after death. 1
When the Sadducees devised their question about a widow successively marrying seven brothers in accordance with the law as each brother died in turn following her marrying him they were also motivated by the divisions represented on the Sanhedrin.
In his answer, Jesus makes two things clear. First, there is indeed life after death for God’s people. He reminds the Sadducees that in the Old Testament books of the law, God refers to himself as, ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ Because God is the God of the living, not the dead, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must still be living. vv26-27 Second, Jesus makes it clear that we shouldn’t think of life after death as though it were exactly the same as this life, just with the bad bits taken out. There will be significant differences. One difference is that people will not marry or be married. This is because marriage is a temporary institution which anticipates and reflects the marriage of God and his people. That is the perfect marriage that God’s people will enjoy after death in the new creation that God has prepared for them. This is why Jesus is described as the bridegroom and his people are portrayed as his bride. 2
References that speak of Christ as the bridegroom of the church – Mark 2:19-20, Revelation 19:7-9.
(1 – The above paragraph is almost entirely based on notes in NIV Study Bible 2015.)
(2 – The above paragraph is almost entirely based on notes in Christianity Explored Leaders Handbook 2016.)
How does understanding that the relationship between Christ and the church is described as one of bride and groom affect our understanding of marriage during our lifetime?
How does the knowledge that life after death is more than life as it is now with the bad bits removed affect our hope in Christ’s new creation?
Oh God Our Hope in Ages Past – Westminster Abbey