The Sadducees were testing Jesus again after he had silenced the Herodians. The Sadducees believed there is no resurrection, but showed their malice towards Jesus by questioning him over a matter to do with resurrection, marriage in the resurrection.
They concocted a situation of a man who had a wife and the man died leaving no children. Under the Law of Moses the man’s brother was to take the wife and raise up children for his dead brother. However the second brother died. The woman was then married to a third brother who also died. She was married in total to seven brothers all of whom died leaving no children and finally the woman herself died. Their question to Jesus was, “In the resurrection, to which of the seven will she be wife?” (Verse 28)
The mere fact that they would ask such a question shows their malice. They did not believe in the resurrection anyway, so why would they accept a response from someone who did? This was purely a question designed to put Jesus to the test. But Jesus could simply answer the question, for unlike the Sadducees, He knew how the resurrection worked and he knew how these things would occur in the kingdom of heaven.
He began his response quite clearly and put them in their place. “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.” (Verse 29) This is a warning to all of us to be sure that we learn and know the scriptures so that we are not likewise pushed away. They were wrong because they failed to realise from the scriptures that marriage is of this life only. A man and a woman are married only while they live on this earth. Marriage does not extend beyond the grave; it is for this life only. We see that marriage is binding on a husband and a wife while they are alive, but if either one of them dies the living party is freed from the bond and laws of marriage. They are then free to remarry anyone they may choose.
If the Sadducees had known the scripture they would have realised the foolishness of their argument. For if marriage extended beyond the grave and into the resurrection, then the woman and the last six of the seven brothers would have been guilty of committing adultery. But marriage is of this life only and so there was no sin in what they did. At death every married person is freed from his or her vows, so there is no marriage carried forward into the resurrection. They are all free like the angels in heaven as Jesus stated.
Will there be marriage in the kingdom of God when He returns to the earth to rule and reign forever? Perhaps there will, but what form it may take is unknown. Scripture suggests there will be children in the new kingdom, so one would expect there may be some kind of union of a man and woman, but how or what that may be has not been shown to us. I should add here that this is pure conjecture on my part and I do not offer it as doctrine. I will wait to see what the Lord has in store.
As for the issue with the Sadducees though, Jesus then goes on to upbraid them about their lack of belief in the resurrection of the dead. He quotes the words of God saying, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Verse 32) Now when he says “I am” he is not talking in the past tense. He did not say, “I was the God of Abraham, etc.” speaking of these three forefathers of Israel as being dead, but he speaks of them as being still alive. Then Jesus adds, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Verse 32)
These three men were alive then and are still alive today. Jesus and God do not see what we know as death to be the true death. What we know as death is the separation of the spirit from the body. The body decays and rots away, but the spirit is still alive and living. This is why Jesus said God is God of the living and not the dead.
A further aspect is that those who choose to do evil and to reject Jesus Christ could also be considered as dead, even while they live on the earth. Their lot is to be destroyed after the final judgement, so they are good as dead even while they live. Their God is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the god of this world, who is Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
While we live we need to focus our priorities and attention on finding the truth. Learn the things of Jesus so that you can be counted amongst the living and find your place in the resurrection of the just.