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Daily Devotional • December 1

Sarah Cornwell
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 20:27-40

27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28 and 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. 29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married a woman and died childless; 30 then the second 31 and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32 Finally the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

34 Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but 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. 36 Indeed, they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37 And 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. 38 Now he is God not of the dead but of the living, for to him all of them are alive.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

I don't like to commit myself about Heaven and Hell, you see, I have friends in both places. -Mark Twain

The Sadducees think themselves terribly clever. Bless their hearts. They believe they’ve asked Jesus the rhetorical equivalent of a checkmate. They’ve boxed in the king with these seven dead husbands, and now he has nowhere to go. They have mastered the rules of the game and now they control the board.

Here’s the thing: Jesus is the king of a very different kind of board that is governed by very different rules. The Sadducees think they have Jesus on the marriage question, but Jesus merely shrugs. There is no marriage in heaven, therefore there is no checkmate. Though earthly entities such as Hollywood and Hallmark would have us believe that the “love of our life” continues into the afterlife, the marriage rite of the Church makes the limit of that union very clear: ‘til death do us part. On this earthly plane, the king and queen are married. In the heavenly plane, they are, we pray, reunited, but this time as friends.

For the Christian, friendship is not second-best in a hierarchy of relationships, but it is paramount. It is privileged even above marriage, for while only some are called to the one, all are called to foster deep and everlasting friendships. John 15:13 says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 

In today’s world, the Sadducees are not the only ones confused about what is meant by Christian relationships and looking for a “Got ya!” moment in conversation. Let these moments be an opportunity, not to try and checkmate one another according to the rules of this world, but to open up another’s heart to a different sort of game altogether.  It will clarify some points on Christian theology, which is often misunderstood, and we may just gain another friend in heaven.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have seven children and they live in Wheaton, Illinois.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Diocese of Nyang – The Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan
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