We’ve pondered the question for ages: What happens after death? Will there be anything at all? What you believe about that—what you really believe—pretty much determines how you live.

If you believe you’re finished when they pull the sheet over your face, you’re probably trying to squeeze as much fun out of life as you can. Eat, drink, and be merry, as the saying goes. This is all you’ve got. You won’t care what some clergyman speaks over your grave. You won’t care because you won’t know, and you won’t know because you won’t exist anymore. Many people believe that, and that’s how they live.

It’s what the Sadducees believed. We live, we die, that’s it. Game over. They were so sure about it that they had created what they thought was an insurmountable argument. They’d used it before, and now they plan to try it on this up-and-coming Rabbi who had proven to be a difficult sparring partner. As it turns out, he poked a few crater-sized holes in their argument.

Here’s the confrontation: 

And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong” (Mark 12:18-27).

They’d probably stumped quite a few teachers in their day, and they were eager to watch Jesus wilt under their inescapable logic. But Jesus was no ordinary Rabbi. By quoting one Scripture he exposed their biblical ignorance and theological bias. They denied the afterlife not because there was no evidence, but because they didn’t want to believe in life after death.
You are quite wrong, Jesus says, and being wrong about eternity is a pretty big thing to be wrong about. Imagine living your life as if this is it, only to die and find out there’s more. Much more. An eternity more. Imagine accumulating the toys and chasing the dreams and squeezing every ounce of fun out of life . . . only to realize that you missed the whole point.
Imagine realizing that God wanted you to live a selfless life to prepare you for something infinitely better than the passing fancies of a self-centered life here. Imagine God as the God of the living, not the dead. Imagine eternity with him.
Believing that completely changes the way we live. —Chuck