Luke 20: 27–38
The Sadducees did not believe that people would rise to life after death. So some of them came to Jesus and said:
“Teacher, Moses wrote that if a married man dies and has no children, his brother should marry the widow. Their first son would then be thought of as the son of the dead brother. There were once seven brothers. The first one married, but died without having any children. The second one married his brother’s widow, and he also died without having any children. The same thing happened to the third one. Finally, all seven brothers married that woman and died without having any children. At last the woman died. When God raises people from death, whose wife will this woman be? All seven brothers had married her”.
“The people in this world get married. But in the future world no one who is worthy to rise from death will either marry or die. They will be like the angels and will be God’s children, because they have been raised to life. In the story about the burning bush, Moses clearly shows that people will live again – he said, The Lord is the God worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So the Lord isn’t the God of the dead, but of the living. This means that everyone is alive as far as God is concerned.”
Such challenges were common in the synagogues as the Jews debated the words of the Torah. They would justify their stance claiming the name of Moses and so it would begin. This is a convoluted challenge by a group of people who do not even believe in an afterlife. So this question is simply meant to confuse matters; Jesus’ answer seems to confuse matters even more.
We may be disturbed by the idea that we won’t be spending eternity with those that we love. The Sadducees, in the world they represent, are not talking about a loving relationship, but dutiful ownership. The widow is passed from one to another as property; a legal obligation to avoid being abandoned to poverty. Whose property will she be in the afterlife?
If Jesus takes this challenge at all seriously it is only to address this one failing of humanity – the failure to love others as we love ourselves; to make caring for others an obligation rather than a privilege. In his reply, Jesus assures those whose lives are not their own that life in God will be a life of eternal and loving freedom.