To me the most interesting element of this story of Sadducees trying to trap Jesus with a no-win question isn’t their ploy but Jesus’ understanding of God. He recalls how Moses had encountered God in the burning bush when the Creator gave him the task of leading the Hebrews out of Egypt. At that meeting God referred to himself as, I Am Who Am. Jesus goes on to say that “all are alive as far as God is concerned.” This was his way of making the point that God is beyond human understanding.
What we know of God are some good theories and best-guesses that we must always submit to the wisdom of the entire believing community including those who gave us the Scriptures. As Christians, Jesus’ life is our most practical and complete experience of God.
What difference does that make? It seems an occupational hazard of Christians to decide that we know God’s mind about nearly every issue. Once we think we’ve figured God out, we’re quick to tell everyone else how God intends them to think and behave. Since God very rarely whacks people on the head for taking his name in vain, we presumptuous God-knowers generally get away with it.
There are many, important things that we actually do know about how God relates to human beings from the life of Jesus who was one of us. He mirrored God’s generous love and forgiveness. He told his followers that by imitating his behavior in their relationships they would be imitating God’s behavior. In particular, they should love their enemies.
It’s worth noting that while we demand rigid adherence to our speculative interpretations of God’s thinking whom we’re incapable of imagining, we allow ourselves great flexibility in adhering to the specific instruction of Jesus about whom we know so much.
Humility in pontificating about God’s mind is always a good idea. Far better that we stick to what we know for sure from Jesus’ way of treating people.