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God’s Word for You

Mark 12:24-27 Marriage in the resurrection - Part 2

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 1, 2022

24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

I know that this subject is difficult for many people, especially certain Christians who have lost a spouse. While I never speak lightly about the Word of God, I especially want to assert here: I do not say these things lightly or without consideration. This is what the Bible has to say; what our Lord assures us about.

This passage raises a lot of questions and also proves the answers to certain questions. Jesus ascribes the power of the resurrection to God himself, not to any act of nature nor to any ability or discovery of man. Also, the teaching of the resurrection of the body is taught in the Scriptures, otherwise Jesus would not rebuke the Sadducees for not knowing the Scriptures.

  • Human beings do not become angels in heaven. This is a popular myth today. The text does not say that we become angels in heaven, but that we “will be like the angels in heaven.” The likeness does not extend to wings and such, but that in the matter of sex and marriage we will be like the angels, who do not marry and therefore do not have sex or bear children.
  • In the resurrection, our souls and bodies will be reunited with one another. The immortal soul is not remade, but it is the same soul we have in our lifetime. The body is not a different body, but a body made perfect and glorious. Gerhard says: “If the gears of a clock are taken apart and the same ones are cleaned of dirt and reassembled, it is not another clock but exactly the same one—so also the essence of the human body will be exactly the same because God took it apart and will put it back together again. He will remove its weaknesses and raise it up again from the dust” (On the Resurrection of the Dead, par. 78).
  • In the matter of those who died at a very young age, will they be doomed to be unable to walk or talk, or remain infants or even unborn in the resurrection? Here we have the testimony of Paul to help us: “Just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49). While Paul’s words are especially about the spiritual nature of the resurrection, the spiritual cannot be completely removed from the physical. We also rely on the Lord’s compassion: “When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate” (Exodus 22:27; Nehemiah 9:17). It is likely (and we must be careful to say “likely”) that those who died at a very young age will have bodies that will be mature in heaven if this pleases the Lord.

    On the other hand, who would not admit the glory and the delight of an eternal life of play in the innocence and delight of childhood, when green grass is a luxurious mattress, a low tree branch is a schoolroom, a shallow creek is a bathtub or ocean beach, and a peony bush is a vast forest?
  • We will not lose the gender with which we were born, but will retain it in heaven. Yet what led to desire and passion in marriage (or lust outside marriage) will no longer do so in the resurrection, not because of a change in our physical bodies, but a change in our spiritual nature. What made Adam and Eve ashamed happened on account of sin (Genesis 3:7), but did not affect them at all when there was no sin (Genesis 2:25).

    In our modern and perverse culture, some questions may be avoided by stating that, for example, a man who was castrated as a eunuch in his lifetime will no longer be castrated in the resurrection, but neither will he be concerned about sexual matters because, with regard to marriage and sex, we will be like the angels. Likewise, if a man mutilated his body by choice, the mutilation will be undone by God. The raised body is the body given by God, not the body with modifications chosen or imposed by man.
  • Our bodies will be more glorious in the resurrection in ways we cannot describe. “Christ will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). The likeness to God will be seen in quality, not in substance. So one’s body remains one’s body, but in a glorified and holy manner. And the new glory we will have in heaven (as different from the present body as the sun is more radiant and glorious than the moon, Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3) will never fade or be lost, but will remain forever.
  • Human beings, including those who were married in life, will continue to know one another in the resurrection, but the marriage will not continue. Marriage concludes with the death of one spouse (1 Corinthians 7:39), but friendship need never end. Jesus called his disciples “friends” at the Last Supper (John 15:15) and looked forward to eating and drinking with those same friends in his Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:29). “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). It delights the bride to describe her husband in two ways in the Song, as both “my lover” and “my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:16). The one relationship we have only in this lifetime, but the other we will also enjoy in the next.
  • Our human bodies will look like the bodies we have now, except in a perfect form. Resurrected bodies are described with limbs and other members such as the bodies we have now, flesh and eyes (Job 19:26,27), bones, tendons, flesh, and skin (Ezekiel 37:7-8), the ability to eat and to drink (Acts 10:41, Luke 24:42-43), to breathe (John 20:22), to show compassion (John 20:15), to remember and recognize friends (John 20:16), to speak (Mark 16:14-18), and to discuss matters of faith (Luke 24:18-27). In our resurrected bodies we will be able to touch and be touched, to hold (Luke 24:30), to be held and hugged (Matthew 28:9).
  • Our resurrected bodies will have a power we do not yet understand because they will be completely free of troublesome corruptions and human weaknesses, pains, and the illnesses to which we were subject in this life. Our bodies will be incapable of suffering in heaven (although resurrected bodies in hell will be capable of nothing but suffering), and we will be firm, strong, agile, exquisite, etc., with nothing to thwart our being caught up in the air on our ascend (1 Thessalonians 4:17). However, the ancient belief among certain Christians that our bodies will be “without weight or heaviness” (they were trying to imagine ascending into heaven in an age before flight was possible) is answered by the simple words of Jesus that we will be carried to heaven by angels (Luke 16:22) and therefore obstacles such as weight, mass, air resistance, etc., are removed by the word of God.

26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” (NIV)

The Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been dead for centuries, and yet God said to Moses, “I am their God” (Exodus 3:6). If he is not the God of the dead, then they are not dead. If he is the God of the living, then they live. In Greek, there is a grammatical point worth noting here. There is no definite article with the words nekron (νεκρῶν, “dead”) and zonton (ζώντων, “living”). This shows that the quality of death and life are being stressed. Those who have had faith in Christ have eternal life (John 3:16). “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). The resurrection is taught even by the way God describes himself, in his very titles and names.

Jesus ends by saying, “You are badly mistaken.” The Sadducees hadn’t made a small mistake, easily overlooked and explained, nor were they in error because of difficult doctrine, discovered only with a great deal of study and patience. No, they had made a fundamental mistake. This was no mere thread that could be repaired, but it was like the hole that my cat tore in my mother’s old afghan blanket. The blanket no longer functions as a blanket because the hole just gets bigger every time anyone tries to use it. The doctrine of the Sadducees was not a doctrine of faith, but of unbelief. They could not be called Israel’s leaders, because they did not lead anyone to heaven, but to hell.

Job asked, “If a man dies, will he live again?” The Scriptures answer: Yes. He will live, in the body he had in life yet perfected and forever. The ‘Why’ is more important than the fact: We will live because Christ lives. We are forgiven in Christ, and we will be raised in Christ.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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