Study Guide: Growing Up Into Kingdom Adulthood

Sunday September 13, 2009 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Jesus was frustrating to most people who asked him theological questions. When the Sadducees challenged him, Jesus set them straight on the resurrection, the role of women, and gave a few hints about heaven, none of which they wanted to hear.

Extended Summary:

Jesus was frustrating to most people who asked him theological questions. Rather than answer the specific question being asked in a straight forward manner, Jesus usually redirected the conversation toward something more important. As we have seen, when the Pharisee’s asked about paying taxes or not, Jesus redirected people to reflect on what it means to give to each what is owed, to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

This time, it is the Sadducees who have a challenge for Jesus. They posed their question in the form of a puzzle. The details of the puzzle tell us much about the interests of the Sadducees. This group of Jewish teachers did not believe in the resurrection or the reality of angels.

Here’s what was going on with their puzzle: They didn’t believe in the resurrection, but they did believe that passing on the family names of Jewish men was extremely important. This is a very different way of thinking about “eternal life” than what is usually understood by that phrase today. The essential element is that the man’s name must be passed down to his son and so on. So, the role of a woman in this scheme is that of wife and child-bearer, not just any child, but specifically a son. So, they wanted to get Jesus to stumble over the question of to whom someone would be married “in heaven” (which they didn’t really believe in) if they had multiple spouses while on earth.

Jesus answered that there will be no marriage in heaven but those who are in heaven will be like angels. He referred to those in heaven as “children of the resurrection”. In this response Jesus makes it clear that relationships in heaven will work very differently than they do here on earth. He went on to refer to Moses’ (because it was Moses the Sadducees were quoting about marriage laws) understanding of God as being the God of those who are alive here on earth now, but also the God of all who have died but are alive in heaven.

In saying these things, Jesus confronted the views of the Sadducees in several ways and showed that their question was wrong-headed and based on the assumption that heaven (if it existed) would be just like earth only permanent. Among the assumptions confronted are: family lines are what is ultimately important, this is clearly denied since there will be no recognition of this in heaven. The idea of there being no resurrection was confronted by quoting Moses, who had authority for the Sadducees. The restrictive understanding of the role of women as son-bearers social pawns was confronted.

Greg went on to show how we all often fall into the same sort of assumptions about heaven than the Sadducees did. We wonder or even worry about who will be there, our family? Friends? Pets? What will we look like? What age? What condition? Then he pointed us to some important passages to help us get away from these sorts of questions. Read through all of the key scriptures before continuing on to the questions below.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. A large part of Greg’s sermon was based on Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 13. How does the comparison of childhood to adulthood in this passage apply to the larger conversation about Sadducees and questions about heaven?
  3. If we are in the position of children with regard to our questions and concerns about heaven, how much can we reasonably know about what heaven will be like? What can we know for sure? What details are unavailable at this point?
  4. Greg spent some time showing how this passage contained some “good news” for women during that time. What was that good news? How would that apply today?
  5. As citizens of heaven living here on earth, we are called to live out the new reality even though we find ourselves in the old. The good news for women discussed above also applies to other people who find themselves corralled into predefined roles that society puts us in. How does being a citizen of heaven, a child of the coming king, change the way we think about ourselves and live in this world? What freedom and good news is present in these texts for all of us?