Luke 20:27-38 (NRSV)
Verse 27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him Verse 28and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Verse 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; Verse 30then the second Verse 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Verse 32Finally the woman also died. Verse 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." Verse 34Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; Verse 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Verse 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. Verse 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Verse 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive."
This story from Luke’s Gospel was especially challenging to a widow in a congregation I served who had recently lost a beloved spouse of more than six decades. What? No marriage in heaven?! In our limited human capacity to think about heaven and the life to come, we tend to imagine it as simply a more glorified version of what we already know and have experienced here in this earthly life.
But the point of Jesus’ teaching is that eternal life with God is beyond our imagining! Everything will be changed. Everything will be made new. As the contemporary Christian hymn, “I Can Only Imagine,” by Mercy Me, suggests, the love we have for one another and the relationships that we will enjoy together will have a completely different focus and understanding—that of loving God. But we can be assured, life will be glorious! So perhaps today might be a good time to begin imagining our life with God here and now differently by loving and caring for all who are the beloved children of God in Jesus.
Surprising God, today give us imaginations big enough to reach out beyond what is comfortable, that we might be surprised by your life-giving and life-sustaining gifts of mercy and grace. Amen.