Third Sunday before Advent 10.11.13 Luke 20.27-38

4 11 2013

Trick Questions

You would have thought that by now people would learn not to ask Jesus trick questions.  But here we go…

Luke 20.27-38
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and 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. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In 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; 35but 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. 36Indeed they cannot die any more, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And 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. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.’


To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. Is this passage more about marriage or death?
  2. In what ways are the departed like angels – and in what ways are they unlike angels?
  3. If you were there, would you have been silenced by Jesus’ answer in v. 34-38 or would you have asked a supplementary?  What would that supplementary be?

Heart Questions

  1. Which is easier emotionally – to believe in the resurrection or not?
  2. Do you feel that the Sadducees’ question is simply an intellectual question to catch Jesus out, or is there a genuine pastoral question there?
  3. Verse 39 says that the scribes praised Jesus’ answer.  Do you feel he spoke well?

Hand Questions

  1. Does this passage give you any suggestions about how to develop your ministry around weddings or funerals?
  2. How does the idea that God is not ‘of the dead’ but ‘of the living’ challenge your priorities?
  3. Part of the power of this is that Jesus addressed the top concern of the Sadducees straight on.  What is the top concern of people today?  What would a ‘head-on’ answer look like?


These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.



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