This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on November 6th, 2016.
This is no easy text to preach, but it poses an additional challenge for those preachers who observe All Saints Sunday on the Sunday following All Saints Day (Nov 1st). Add to the difficulty of the text itself the reality that many loved ones will be in attendance to remember those saints (“soulmates”) who have passed on, and many preachers will be passing on this text in favor of one of the other lectionary options. There’s also an opportunity that accompanies this challenge, though, to offer theological interpretation over and above sentimentality.
The Sadducees, most likely deriving their name from Zadok (righteous), the first high priest of Solomon’s temple, did not believe in the resurrection. They followed the Torah, but not any oral traditions, which put them at odds with Pharisees. Because the Torah did not allude to an afterlife, the Sadducees did not believe in it. As they follow on the heels of consecutive stories in chapter 20, where Luke highlights the attempts of the religious establishment to ensnare Jesus in religious legalese, the Sadducees bring up a practice from Deuteronomy 25 known as Levirate marriage. We see a couple examples of this in the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East, the most prominent being the story of Ruth and her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz.