Luke 20:27 ‘Some of the Sadducees, who say there is NO RESURRECTION, came to Jesus with a question.’ They asked Jesus after a woman was married 7 times whose wife will she be in the resurrection attempting to show the absurdity of the resurrection. Jesus said, ‘You do not know the scriptures or the power of God.’ What’s that got to do with it?


Whose Wife Will She Be? (Luke 20:27-40)

By Pastor Delbert Young

Resurrection Whose Wife Will She Be? (Luke 20:27-40)

Scriptures: Luke 20:27, Acts 23:8, Luke 20:28, Deuteronomy 25:5-6, Luke 20:29, Luke 20:33, Matthew 22:29, Luke 20:34-36, Luke 20:37-38, Exodus 3:6, Luke 20:39-40

According to a Barna survey report, “Just one out of every ten adults contends that there is no form of life after one dies on earth.” This is fascinating to me and causes me to wonder why people don’t plan for it better. Humanity inherently knows there is life after death. From the earliest of recorded time and in every society man has known something after this life is out there. We know without being told or taught there is afterlife.

The day was likely Wednesday of Passion Week. Herodians had given their best shot to get Jesus to say something giving reason to arrest him. Now the Sadducees came. They would attempt to humiliate Jesus before the crowd. The teachings of Jesus Christ are to give abundant life now, but also prepare people for an afterlife.

Luke 20:27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is NO RESURRECTION, came to Jesus with a question.

We are given this brief description of the Sadducees. No wonder they were sad-u-see (I know. You can boo me.). They had no hope except this world only.

Acts 23:8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.)

Sadducees were empiricist (em-pear- i- cist: rational/scientific) who believed there is no afterlife, no rewards, no judgment, etc. This life was it. Their 60 years or so (old then) was it. Strange as it sounds to us, the resurrection of the dead teaching was somewhat new during the days of Jesus. Sadducees were also “Hellenistic” meaning they were leaving the Jewish ways and gravitating to the ways of Rome and the gentile world. Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it?

Pharisees outnumbered the Sadducees, but the Sadducees were more powerful. They were the aristocrats (educated upper class and wealthy). The high priests were Sadducees. The chief priests were Sadducees. Many of the Sanhedrin members (ruling government) were Sadducees. They were liberal in their beliefs, but cruel in inflicting punishment on people. We didn’t hear much about the Sadducees as long as Jesus was in Galilee, Judea, country sides, small cities, and villages, but now he’s in the temple at Jerusalem. The Sadducees ran the temple operation and Jesus was interrupting their lucrative business. He was in their arena every day taking over with crowds of people coming to see and hear him and he didn’t teach temple stuff.

How could they be religious leaders, but not believe in the resurrection, angels, rewards, judgment, life after death, etc when the scriptures say so much about these? They believed the “pure” Law of God was only in the writings of Moses called the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Since the resurrection was not mentioned in those five books then the resurrection was not valid.

The Pharisees, on the other hand discussed every detail of the resurrection such as will we be clothed or naked when the resurrection happens? If clothed, where would we obtain the clothes? Though Pharisees and Sadducees despised each other and differed greatly in theology, they were in agreement concerning Jesus. He must die.

Luke 20:28 “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 have children for his brother.

The fact Sadducee aristocrats would even approach Jesus, a backward hillbilly Rabi, shows us the impact of Jesus. Jesus was the buzz. Sadducees were well educated, very wealthy, and influential people. These type people are intimidating, at least to me. I’m none of the above, so I somewhat awe when around these people. Not Jesus. They referenced Moses who wrote the Pentateuch using Deuteronomy 25 concerning the “Levirate Marriage.”

Deuteronomy 25:5-6 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.

The purpose of this law was intended to maintain a man’s lineage and property. It also provided some protection for the widow. The Sadducees went on.

Luke 20:29 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.

Hallelujah! This was one dangerous lady. Talk about a “black widow!” The penalty for not marrying your brother’s wife was family humiliation. The widow was to spit in his face in public and take one of his sandals labeling him as “The Family of the Unsandaled” (Deu 25:10). To me this would be far better than taking a chance with this gal. Mercifully, she finally died too. Next is their “unanswerable question” meant to humiliate the country boy Rabbi.

Luke 20:33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

They felt this showed the absurdity of the resurrection, but it was another brilliant question. We are given great insights into the minds of the ancients with this question and the question about taxes. We think ourselves superior and as if we’ve progressed tremendously through the centuries. Have we, or are we simply arrogant? Thousands of years ago there were intelligent thinking people who could put me to shame intellectually. Maybe we need to realize we’re not so smart after all.

Their question was a hyperbole (purposeful exaggeration), meant to make their point, but perhaps some of you have asked a similar question especially if you’ve been married more than once. How will things be if you and your Ex or Ex’s are “in heaven”? As absurd as their riddle sounds we should learn something.

No one ever answered this question and it proved to them the resurrection is foolishness and myth. Its purpose was to humiliate and discredit Jesus. They had Jesus stumped, right? Matthew 22:23-33 and Mark 12:18-27 parallel Luke writing about this event. I love what Matthew said at this point.

Matthew 22:29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because YOU DO NOT KNOW THE SCRIPTURES or the power of God.”

Why do people error especially when it comes to doctrine and what we believe? We do not know the scriptures. Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection or afterlife. Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection, said resurrection life will be just like natural life. People will have the same physical features, same clothes, same relationships, etc. Their thinking was, and most thinking and teaching today is, the afterlife will be just like this life except better and longer. Before we look at Jesus’ answer, what is your idea of “heaven”? Is it a big mansion where you do nothing all day? What will marriage be like in eternity?

Luke 20:34-36 Jesus replied, “The people OF THIS AGE marry and are given in marriage. But those who are CONSIDERED WORTHY of taking part in THAT AGE 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.

Notice it’s “like the angels.” People don’t become angels, i.e. cupids, guardian, or otherwise. Everything changes in the age of the resurrection including marriage. Marriage is for this life/age, not the next. Marriage is for this dimension, not the afterlife dimension. Not only will there be no marrying in the afterlife, but no given in marriage. In other words, if you have been given in marriage one time or seven times, it’s irrelevant then. What?

(NLT) Luke 20:34-35 Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. But that is not the way it will be in the age to come. For those worthy of being raised from the dead won’t be married then.

So it really is until death do us part. I don’t intend to sound cold, but if you’ve lost a spouse to death your marriage is relevant to you, but it’s no longer relevant to them. They have truly “gone on.” Everyone will not be considered worthy of taking part in that age. Marriage is connected here with being worthy, but we are only worthy through attaining a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We got that, but it’s verse 35 where we go, “Huh? I won’t be married in heaven?” No. Not to your spouse.

Some with a difficult spouse may say “Wonderful! I knew God loved me.” I personally don’t like this as I now understand it. I’ve been with my wife over fifty years. I can’t imagine not being married to her in our afterlife. It saddens me. (This is a great place for you men to shout “Amen!”) Somehow being “there in heaven” is better than being “here on earth,” but I don’t get “better” as of now. What I do know is in this lifetime/age marriage, children, and all connected with these occupy a great deal of time, energy, and focus. In the age to come it won’t be this way. It won’t be “Does this dress make me look fat?” Or, “Do something with that kid!” Or, “For the fifth time, please take out the trash!” God has another focus for us.

Will we know and love our spouse? Of course but it won’t be a monogamous kind of knowing and love as marriage is now. Marriage won’t be the defining relationship of our lives as it is in this age. Jesus will be the defining relationship as the husband of the church (Eph 5:23-27). We will be a radiant bride without spot, wrinkle, or any blemish. Jesus will be our focus.

Luke 20:37-38 But in the account of the 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.”

Jesus took them to their Pentateuch and Moses. If God is the God of the living then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must be alive in the afterlife. Here is what Jesus referenced from the account of the bush.

Exodus 3:6 Then he said, “I AM THE GOD OF your father, the God OF Abraham, the God OF Isaac and the God OF Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

This is repeated in verse 15 as God’s eternal name. “I am the God of…” not I was the God of. God is not the God of corpses. He’s the God of the living Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Luke 20:39-40 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The teachers of the law (called “scribes” KJV) were the lawyer theologians and mostly Pharisees. They patted Jesus on the back. He’d proved there is a resurrection, but shortly Jesus will blast them (v 46). This was the last question Jewish leadership asked Jesus according to Luke’s gospel. Matthew speaks of one more – what is the greatest commandment? Jesus will ask one, but no one dared to ask Jesus anything more.

Whose wife will she be? It’s irrelevant in eternity. Jesus is the focus and defining relationship. So, why do we get in error concerning our beliefs? We don’t know the scriptures and the power of God. How do you personally align concerning this?

Other Related Sermons:

The Resurrection Proofed – Easter sermon video audio notes

Easter Nonsense – sermon video audio notes

What Then? – Easter sermon video audio notes