Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?’
Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.’
The Sadducees were a religious group with a particular view of life and death, and their ideas clashed with what Jesus taught. They make up an implausible, though possible story about a woman’s duty to her seven husbands. Even the imaginative Noel Coward, in Blithe Spirit, stopped at just two wives!
Jesus dismisses the Sadducee’s construction by explaining that marriage is not an issue in heaven, where we become like the angels. We do not turn into angels: we take on eternity like them. Angels are not mortal beings – we cannot describe their age or life span because they are made for eternal service.
We know that in heaven our earthly bodies will be transformed for eternal life. Nothing in our new body will wear down or break, nothing will tarnish. Angels already have a form that does not age or decay. Gabriel is the same now as when he visited Mary. We shall be like that when we take on eternity.
What relationship might I be able to expect with angels in eternity?
Do stillborn babies or children who die prematurely turn into angels?
If I’ve married again, how will those marriage relationships work in heaven?
Father God, I am a child of Christ’s resurrection. In his rising I am risen with him into a new creation that will be fully realised at the end of this life. I will see and recognise angels I never saw in this life and rejoice that you placed them at various times to safeguard and protect me. Amen.
Advent 2022: Wed 30 Nov