30 Mar. Mark 12:18-27

30 Mar. What happens when we die?

"Then some Sadducees came to Jesus and asked him a question. (Sadducees believed that people would not rise from the dead.) They said, 'Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, then that man must marry the widow and have children for his brother'."

"'Once, there were seven brothers. The first brother married and died, leaving no children. So the second brother married the widow, but he also died and had no children.'"

"'The same thing happened with the third brother. All seven brothers married her and died, and none of the brothers had any children. Finally the woman died too. Since all seven brothers had married her, when people rise from the dead, whose wife will she be?'"

"Jesus answered, 'Why don't you understand? Don't you know what the Scriptures say, and don't you know about the power of God?'"

"'When people rise from the dead, they will not marry, nor will they be given to someone to marry. They will be like the angels in heaven.'"

"'Surely you have read what God said about people rising from the dead? In the book in which Moses wrote about the burning bush, it says that God told Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." God is the God of the living, not the dead. You Sadducees are wrong!'"

          (Mark 12:18-27)



The Sadducees formed the largest group of Jewish leaders on the Jewish council (the 'Sanhedrin'). Like the Pharisees - who hated Jesus because he opposed their imposition of numerous religious rules and regulations not contained in the Jewish Scriptures - the Sadducees disagreed with Jesus, but for a different reason. They wanted to curb Jesus's influence among the Jewish people in Jerusalem because he taught positively about the resurrection of the dead.

Sadducees, on the other hand, were extremely conservative in their religious views. They believed only in the written Law of Moses (the ‘Torah’ contained in the first five books of the Jewish Scriptures) and rejected any later ‘customs’ or oral traditions.

So they didn't believe in any form of life after death because it's not mentioned in the Jewish Torah; and they were in continuous conflict with the Pharisees, whose ‘new’ interpretations and additions to the Jewish law they vehemently opposed (see Acts 23:7-8).

Jesus disagreed with the Sadducees because they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23-33). Like the Pharisees, they believed that the souls (or spirits) of people who died went permanently to 'Sheol', the 'world of the dead' (where Jesus went for 3 days after he died - in the words of the Apostles' Creed, "he descended to the dead"). (see Mark 15:37&16:6)

In contrast to the Pharisees (who believed not only in the life of an individual after death, but also in the transmigration of souls or ‘re-incarnation’), the Sadducees did not believe in any form of afterlife.

Jesus made clear to his followers that he believed not only in the resurrection of the dead in the 'last days', but he also believed that those who rose from the dead would live in the presence of God for eternity.

In John 14:1-4, Jesus told his followers, "There are many rooms [i.e. 'places where you can stay'] in my Father's house [i.e. 'dwelling place']. I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back [at the 'second coming' at the end of time] and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am".

When his friend Lazarus had died, Jesus said to his sister, Martha, "Your brother will rise and live again". Martha replied, "I know that he will rise and live again in the resurrection on the last day."

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will have [eternal] life even if they die. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die'." (John 11:23-26)

So what happens when we die? Contrary to the popular belief that Christians immediately go to heaven, the Bible teaches that everyone who dies goes to 'sleep' in 'the world of the dead' (Sheol). Then when Jesus returns to earth on the 'Day of Judgement', those who believe in his saving power will rise from the world of the dead and join Jesus in the newly re-created 'new heaven and new earth', and live with him there for eternity (see Revelation 21:1-7 & 22-26).

The photo shows the churchyard at St Swithin's church at Barston near Solihull, UK, containing the graves of those 'sleeping in death' and awaiting the resurrection of the dead at the second coming of Jesus.

You can read more about the resurrection from the world of the dead @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/the-resurrection-of-the-…/

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