What’s your point? What are you trying to get at? What’s the bottom line? For so many of us, a long, babbling discourse, without direction or purpose, is difficult to listen to. We can do without all the fluff and window dressing. Just give me the information that’s really going to matter.
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman but died childless. Then the second and the third married her, and likewise all the seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Frankly, the Sadducees could have cared less about who’s married to whom in heaven. They simply wanted to throw a problem at Jesus with all sorts of tricks and traps, with all kinds of diversions. Trying to confuse the issue at hand. Doing their best to show the absurdity of something they themselves are not even clear about.
It seems, the underlying issue at hand is really the matter of death. Is death simply an end? Or is something more? Does our existence completely end at our last breath? Or does something new follow the last exhale? Put simply, is death finally a death? This is the fundamental question of faith. If all things converge to death – to an end – then the short life we live on earth is an exercise in futility. Is death the end of what we thought were authentic loving relationships? If love ceases after the last breath, then is it really love, or some kind of emotional and chemical reaction during life? Is all the time we spent loving God and neighbor nothing more than a pleasurable earthly experience, like eating a delicious dinner or engaging in great conversation?
As you can see, there are more questions than answers going down the rabbit hole of nonexistence. Is it not logical, if death is definitive, then, must it also be true that we who were created in God’s image and likeness also must also come to an end? The atheists have answered this dilemma early on, they surmise there is no such thing as an eternity, let alone God’s eternal love.
Of course, our Christian experience rejects such nihilism. Our experience and reassurance from God’s word and actions indicate there is something which lasts. Authentic love does perdure beyond separation, and in some cases, is strengthened by it. Those who are no longer with us do remain intimately close to us – their peace, their joy, their love. Our experience tells us that God’s presence does remain and sustain us through our deaths, even the small deaths we endure daily.
Nature is our first teacher. The seasons which change annually showing the endless cycle of death and rising. Next, are those times which are more personal, something so simple as falling to sleep and rising from our slumber. Then, the times when we have fallen into sadness only to be revived and raised up by an unexpected joy. The minor aliments which had debilitated us are now only a distant memory after we found healing. In all of these experiences and more, the death and the rising motif, so prevalent in earthly life, is a constant reminder there is something greater than our senses reveal. The death and rising ritual give mere mortals a glimpse into eternity and to ponder on a reality well beyond our comprehension.
Disillusionments and disappointments. Unfulfilled hopes and dreams. Lost promotions and broken hearts. In spite of all that can go wrong, we know that one thing can’t go wrong. In spite of all our failures, we know that the one who shares his eternity, cannot, and will not, fail us. Isn’t this really the heart of the matter?
The Resurrection of Jesus is the certain hope life always outdoes death. The Resurrection of Jesus is the confidence that another’s strength and life will become ours. The Resurrection of Jesus is the assurance that we will enjoy an everlasting communion with him and those we love.
You see, the question isn’t so much about the reality of eternal life after death. It is rather about living a seamless life, where eternity is not some distant thing in the future, but a truth which intersects earthly life each and every day.