This is Jesus' response as he was posed with a theoretical question regarding resurrection. Here was the question raised by the Sadducees:
“You are in error - do you not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? Because when we arise from the dead body we neither marry nor be given in marriage – but will be as angels in the spiritual realm. With regard to the arising from the dead body, have you not read in the Scripture of Moses about the burning bush – how from within the bush God spoke to him saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living – therefore you are greatly mistaken.” (Mark 12:24-27)
Then the Sadducees – who say there is no resurrection – approached him and asked of him, “Master, Moses wrote that if a man’s brother dies, leaving his wife behind without children, the brother should marry his wife and she will raise his brother’s children. Now there were seven brothers and the first married the wife but died, having no children. And the second married her and died and didn’t have children – the same with the third brother. All seven had married her and had no children – and then at last the woman also died. Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise from the dead body, whose wife will she be? For all seven had married her?" (Mark 12:18-23)Why does Jesus say they are in error? These were Sadducees - who were known in that society to be the keepers of the temples, and strict advocates of the scriptures. They were so strict in fact, that they only believed what their eyes could see - and thus did not accept resurrection.
We should note that in Jesus' reply, the Gospels of Jesus translation uses the phrase, "arise from the dead body" instead of the term "resurrection." This is because, as explained below in Mark 12:23 above and as explained below with the translation, this is the direct meaning of the original Greek.
So what is resurrection?Resurrection is translated from the Greek word ἀνάστασις (anastasis). This word actually means, according to the lexicon, “raising up” and “rising from the dead.” This is referring to what happens to each of us at the time of death. At the time of death of the physical body, each of us - the spirit-person or living being (soul) - “rises up” from the body.
In the context of Jesus' statement, he says ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῶσιν.
The word ἐκ means "from." The word νεκρῶν refers to the death of the physical body. And the word ἀναστῶσιν refers to rising or to arise. For this reason, the phrase is being translated to: "arise from the dead body."
Some sectarian translations will say "rise from the dead." But what does this mean? What is "the dead?" "The dead" makes it sound like they are arising from some sort of zombie apocalypse or something.
Jesus isn't teaching about a zombie apocalypse. He is teaching about something very practical. He is teaching about what happens at the time of death, and what happens to us after our body dies.
Basically, Jesus is discussing what happens when the soul - the spirit-person - leaves the physical body at the time of death and rises up to heaven.
We rise from the body at the time of deathWe can see clearly from Jesus' statements above that Jesus is teaching that a person rises up from the physical body at the time of death. This means the person who rises up from the body is distinct from the body.
This reality has been proven out in so many clinical death studies, where people will report rising up from their body at the time of death and looking down at the body. They will report seeing things that could not have otherwise been seen from their hospital bed. They may have a sheet over their eyes or are otherwise unconscious. But they see these things nevertheless.
They are seeing without the body's eyes, in other words.
This means the person who rises up from the body is not the body. It means we are not composed of physical matter. We are composed of spirit. For this reason, we can refer to our true composition as being a spirit-person. We could also refer to our composition as being the "soul."
In other words, we don't have a soul - we are the soul.
In Mark 12:25 above, Jesus describes the ascension of the spirit-person or soul to the spiritual world. These verses also indicate this teaching circulated prior to Jesus’ time. Mark 12:18 indicates the sadducees did not teach resurrection. This indicates that others did. This includes the Prophets, the pharisees, Jesus, and Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus' explanation of resurrection means the spirit-person who returns to the spiritual realm after the time of death disengages from the relationships of the physical body.
Jesus discredits the Sadducee philosophyThis is indicated clearly as Jesus not only discredits the sadducee suggestion that the wife might be married to one or all of the brothers after ascending into heaven. The fact that she does not continue being married means she is no longer connected to the physical body she previously wore on earth.
This misunderstanding regarding heaven still continues today among sectarian teachers, despite Jesus' clear statement here. Many of these teachers will suggest that people will die to go live with their relatives in heaven, maintaining those same relationships. Some will even suggest that we will meet up with our pets in heaven.
Jesus clearly refutes this notion in his response to the sadducees. He says:
“You are in error."He also says:
"Because when we arise from the dead body we neither marry nor be given in marriage – but will be as angels in the spiritual realm."Being "as angels" makes a distinction from human society. This means our relationships based upon our temporary physical body - spouses, siblings, parents, children, pets - will cease for those who return to the spiritual realm.
This doesn't mean that we won't reunite with the souls of our former body's family members or spouses in the spiritual realm. Yes, it is very likely that we will be reunited with those we were close to here.
But because the specific relationship we shared on earth is dependent upon this temporary physical body, our relationship with them in the spiritual realm will be different. That relationship will be as angels, as Jesus says.
When many think of "angels," many think of some kind of bright winged being - someone who flies around and appears here and there in the physical realm.
But this impression is from the mind trying to place a physical description upon something outside the confines of the mind.
The reality is that the mind cannot enter the spiritual dimension. The mind is a subtle part of the material realm. It can record the things it picks up from the physical senses. Then the mind can jumble and sort those memories and come up with speculative impressions based upon the recordings of the senses.
This is contrary to reality. The reality is that the spiritual dimension is beyond the physical dimension. It is not perceivable by the physical senses. The spiritual dimension also cannot be accessed through the speculations of the mind.
We don't see the soul leave at the time of deathThis is why we cannot see the spirit-person leaving the physical body at the time of death. We can certainly see that the physical body stops being animated after the time of death. We can see that the physical body no longer maintains a personality after the time of death. But we cannot see what separates from the body at the time of death.
By deduction, we can logically conclude that since a dead body is no longer animated nor maintains a personality - that the animating personality has left the body at the time of death. This is logical - but still open to speculative conclusions if left to the mind.
The reality that Jesus teaches is that neither the senses nor the mind cannot perceive this animating personality after it separates from the body at the time of death. The senses can see that when the animating personality is in the body - the body is alive. But when separated from the physical body - the senses - and thus the mind - cannot perceive this animating personality.
This indicates clearly that the animating personality lies within another dimension. A dimension inaccessible to the physical senses and the physical mind. This is the dimension Jesus is discussing.
Just as the driver of a car is made of a different composition as the car - the spirit-person is made of a different composition than the physical body.
This is why we cannot see GodMaterial scientists claim that God doesn't exist because the physical senses cannot perceive God. But the reality is that the spiritual dimension cannot be seen by the physical senses.
This is also the dimension God regularly resides within. It is also the dimension of the spirit-person. The physical senses cannot see into this dimension. God can certainly appear in whatever dimension He wants to be seen in - but the spiritual realm is His regular habitat.
Why should material scientists have a problem with this? Material scientists are constantly coming up with existential theories about multiple (unseen) dimensions and alternative realities. Why should we believe material scientists' theories about these unseen dimensions and alternate realities if we can't see them with our eyes or other sense organs?
The reason why material scientists are convinced there are alternate realities and multiple dimensions are because it is perfectly logical. The assumption that the only dimension that exists is the one that we see with our physical eyes is completely illogical.
Why? Because our eyes can only see a small portion of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
Our eyes can only see a tiny part of realityJust look around at the different dimensions that exist even within this planet. Fish, for example, live in a completely different dimension than we do. Their oceanic atmosphere - seen by eyes built for underwater viewing - is made up of water. Our atmosphere - made up of oxygen and other gases - is in many senses a different dimension.
Space is also a different dimension - with a differing atmosphere and different rules of gravity and so forth. The microscopic world - the world of bacteria - can be considered another dimension as well. As we extend beyond these, we find that other dimensions also logically exist. Different atmospheres exist, and only senses made to see into that atmosphere can perceive them.
As such, material scientists readily accept the notion that there are different dimensions - many that exist without us having any entrance into them. Nor any knowledge of them whatsoever.
Yet these very same material scientists refuse to accept the existence of the spiritual dimension where God and the angels exist. Why?
Because they simply want to refuse there is a Supreme Being - someone who is superior to them.
They don't want to accept a Supreme Being because they want to believe they are superior. Each of us humans who refuses to believe in the Supreme Being is doing so because we don't want to accept there is someone greater than ourselves.
We want to be superiorThis is, in fact, our disease. This is why we are here in these physical bodies in the first place. Because we are the stubborn ones. We are the ones who didn't want to accept the superiority of the Supreme Being. We didn't want to be subservient. We wanted to be superior.
So the Supreme Being - in His ultimate wisdom - gave us a dimension - this physical world - where we could ignore His existence. He gave us what we were seeking - an escape from Him. A place where we could act independently of Him - and pretend that we are superior.
This is why these physical bodies were built in such a way that they cannot see into the spiritual dimension. They were built in order to block our view into the spiritual dimension.
For example, a sedan car is built for driving on paved roads. The tires and the chassis are built for smooth surfaces. The sedan isn't built to go off-road. It isn't built to drive over giant boulders or mud swamps. It is build for a particular type of journey - over roads and highways.
In the same way, this physical body is built for a journey through the physical world, to be virtually away from God. It is not built for access into the spiritual realm.
However, the human form of life was also built with an intellect and a passageway back to the spiritual realm. This is through the heart - the loving nature of the spirit-person.
This is the part of us that is alive. This is the part of us that loves. This is the part of us that cares about others. This is the living part of us - our loving heart.
This is what Jesus is speaking of when he says about God:
"He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living."Jesus' use of the phrase, "the living" - translated from the Greek word, ζάω (zaō) - refers to the part of us that has the ability to exchange love.
The reason Jesus mentions Abraham and Jacob in this context is because Abraham and Jacob both loved the Supreme Being. They cared for God. They spent their lives trying to please God. They were truly alive.
You see, all of this junk in the physical world - all our chase for material things, self-centered fame and position - is dead. It is temporary. It is illusion. When our body dies, these things will cease to exist for us. At the time of death, all of our money, our family, our fame, reputation, house, car - everything - will disappear. It will all disappear from our view. It will be as if they didn't exist.
It is like turning off a computer video game. Once the computer is turned off, everything in the video game disappears.
At that time - the time of death - the only thing that will remain with us is our love - or our self-centeredness. Whatever love we have in our hearts for the Supreme Being will steer us towards Him. And whatever self-centeredness plaques our hearts will steer us away from Him.
This means our only task - our only mission as we travel through this world - is redeveloping our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is the only accomplishment that will live on after the death of our physical body.
This is reflected in Jesus' most important instruction:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord –and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction." (Mark 12:29-30)