One aspect of Jesus’ response to the Sadducees about the resurrection was that they didn’t understand the nature of the future life. The Sadducees attempting to trip Jesus up with questions had posed a conundrum. A certain man had married but died childless. According to the law, his brother was to marry his former wife and raise up children for his brother’s lineage. In the story of the Sadducees, the second brother also dies childless and the same happens through all seven brothers. The Sadducees thought they have reduced the resurrection to an absurdity: whose wife will she be if seven brothers were all married to her?
Jesus’ reply counters this misconception, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30, ESV). I recently had someone email about this passage, and he noted no marriage, no sex, and no births in the resurrection. His “what do you think about this passage” likely had a subtext that he didn’t make explicit but went something like this. Marriage is the greatest thing I know in this life; how can that not be in the life to come!
The resurrection life will have no death, so there is no need for replacements, that is new births. The result is the marriage relationship is no longer needed as well. I suspect my friend felt like the next life sounded more like a fast than a feast, if that is the case.
I like C.S. Lewis’s reflections on this found in his book, Miracles. He imagines a small boy who finds the greatest pleasure in his life to be chocolate. Someone older attempts to explain that after puberty and in marriage, he will find a greater pleasure than chocolate. Chocolate is what the small boy knows, and he cannot imagine the greater pleasure. We are in much the same position as we think about resurrection life.
Every good and perfect gift comes from God. I find many joys in this life, and our good Creator is deserving of thanks for every one of them. The one in charge of the joys of this life is also in charge of the joys of the next.
Yet, this is not a perfect world. We experience pain. We suffer sickness and injuries. Evil is perpetrated to the hurt of others. Natural calamities happen. If even in this broken world, we experience great joys, imagine what it will be like in the life of the resurrection.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4, ESV)
I trust the one who is the source of all joys that even greater joys await those who will be like angels in heaven.