I love the chronological bible. It's more like reading a novel, like hearing things as they happened, in the order they happened, and hearing what everyone had to say about that no matter when they lived or died or prophesied. Seriously. Revolutionary to my biblical understanding.
Today I'm reading about the Sadducees (a.k.a. self righteous punks who wanted to catch Jesus in a mistake and thereby strip him of all credibility), when they came to Jesus with the question about the widow.
I love this, 'cause I can just picture it.
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother."
Let's take a moment and be thankful this rule is no longer in play. No need to go disrupting Robb's brother's family with a second wife who wants to have more kids who will now be simultaneously nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters and daughters and sons. Have a crack at that family tree.
"Now there were seven brothers. The first one married the woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her…" Good grief! The poor woman of the story, widowed over and over. And over. And the Sadducees don't stop there. Oh, no. Three dead husbands wouldn't be enough to illustrate the complication of the issue.
"…and the same thing happened to all of the husbands, right down to the seventh brother. Finally the woman died too."
I bet she sure did.
"At the resurrection, when all of these men are alive in heaven, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?"
Jesus first answer, paraphrased, is, "You're all wrong. You don't know the Bible, and you don't know the power of God." And that right there, I would think, is reason enough to stop asking him the complicated math questions. Because he's going to keep calling you out with his wise answers, you ding-dongs.
Then Jesus gives them his answer: "In heaven, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage."
His next sentence says 'they will be like angels,' and I don't really understand what that means so I'm just going to focus on the first part: No marriage in heaven.
This never made sense to me in my married years. I was so puzzled: why would God give this man to me - only me - on earth, if in heaven he'll belong to anyone and everyone? Why don't the married years count, like an investment you get to cash in when you get to heaven?
But I get it now, at least with a little more clarity.
I think the ultimate goal of marriage is pure intimacy. It's knowing one another from across the room, knowing the history and the preferences, remembering what he's good at and what her gifts are. It's the purity of loving each other in an untainted place, where nobody can change your mind about how much you love this person. And I think we get a taste of heaven in a relationship where we know each other inside and out, we continue to learn about one another, and we are perpetually interested in learning more.
In heaven, maybe this kind of intimacy will be true in every relationship. At first that baffles me, making me feel like all my relationships will run together if they are defined the same way.
But then I think about how I have no two friendships that are the same, no two friends who bring the same kinds of joy and presence to my life, no person who is replaceable with someone else. And I see how all these unique shades and hues bring color to my life.
So if that's the case in heaven, if I will know how to love everyone with a holy, sacred intimacy, and if they in turn will love me to the same degree, and we all get to hang out with Jesus and have great meals and stellar parties, then sign me up.
You should come too.