We’ve come far enough along into the Gospel of Luke that the Sadducees have taken note of Jesus. Throughout the last big section of Luke, Jesus has been drawing closer and closer to Jerusalem. The Sadducees were largely active only in the city, which is why they are not frequent participants in the Gospel accounts which largely cover more rural territory. They were part of the wealthy, cultured elite that surrounded the Temple power structure, and often led it. But this ragamuffin from Galilee has been drawing big crowds, so they show up to knock him down a peg. Their scoffing question is about life after death, and what happens in the resurrection. They don’t believe in the resurrection (that’s why they’re so sad you see [Sadducee, ha ha ha, thanks Rev. Nancy Kollhoff for teaching me that one]), and they hope to trap Jesus in a theological conundrum. But he takes their question seriously, and his answer leaves them only able to acknowledge his wisdom and leave him to his crowds.
The answer from Jesus is powerful stuff. We never get a detailed description about Heaven or life after death in the scriptures. Instead, we get bits and pieces of information, enough to build hope on, but not so much that it becomes all we focus on. After all, Jesus mission was here, and our call is here while we are here. Jesus’ answer basically says that “in the age to come” everything will be different. We will be eternal like the angels, and no longer engaged in marriage. I have to wonder if proximity to and full revelation of God’s love won’t make all other loves pale in comparison. But then Jesus closes the deal by pointing out to the Sadducees that when Moses (in effect, the Sadducees’ patron saint) talks to God, he names God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Moses doesn’t do this in the past tense. It is a masterful stroke of theology.
Thinking about Heaven and the resurrection can be hard for me sometimes. My smallness kicks into gear, and I assume that it’s just the best of the best that I’ve experienced here. But that’s like an animal trapped in a cage thinking that bliss is just a bigger cage. Instead God’s grace and goodness are so much more than I can even begin to imagine that I can only handle a foretaste of that hope now. But what a powerful thing that hope is.