Walking in Truth Devotional Update
Jesus Tested by the Sadducees
(Mat 22:23-33; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-40)
I believe that it is important to realize that when the religious leaders were asking Jesus questions, it wasn’t because they wanted to know the answers, but because they did not believe He was the Messiah and wanted to entrap Him.
Jesus was having to deal with their unbelief. Luke helps us to understand their intentions. “So, they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor” (Lk. 20:20).
The Sadducees constituted one of the major religious influences in the first century Judaism. They are mentioned only fourteen times in the New Testament with half the references being in Matthew’s gospel. They were generally wealthy; and their influence was mostly among the upper classes of society. The Sadducees accepted as Scripture only the five books of the Torah or Pentateuch. They regarded the other sections of the Old Testament (the prophets and other writings) as late and unreliable inventions. These people did not believe in the resurrection (Matt. 22:23). As a child I was taught that one can always remember that it was the Sadducees that did not believe in the resurrection by their name: they were “Sad,” Sadducees.
Their test case was built on the levirate marriage law described in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. This law provided that when a married man died before having children the dead man’s brother was to marry the widow and produce children in the name of his dead brother. Those children were considered legally to be the line of the deceased and allowed his contribution to the family tree to continue.
The case the Sadducees presented to Jesus involved a man who married and died without children. His brother then married the widow and died shortly thereafter without children. The next brother married her and died childless. The same process happened through seven brothers and finally the woman died. The question of the Sadducees was, “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection since all of them had married her?” Of course, they were speaking rhetorically. If we had a lady today who had married seven brothers and each had died, the police would be checking into why each one died.
The question of the Sadducees assumed that resurrection life (if there was such) was simply an extension or continuation of earthly life. Jesus’ response to the question charges them with ignorance of both Scripture and the power of God. “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels of God in heaven.” Jesus here exposes his opponents’ lack of Scripture knowledge with his standard formula, have you not read . . . ? (v. 31; see 12:3; 19:4; 21:42, 46) “what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:31-32). The Scriptures and the power of God had been set before them; but they didn’t first choose to “know” these things in such a way as to respect and reverence them according to their proper worth. They didn’t want to; because the truths of these things would have been a light shining on their sin at the most fundamental level of their commitments.
The wonderful relationship of “marriage” was provided by God from the beginning because it was not good that man should be alone (Gen. 2:18), and also for the perpetuation of mankind during their time on earth (Gen. 1:28). This relationship, as wonderful as it is, will no longer be needed in heaven. What kind of relationship will we have? I don’t know, but I believe we will have a relationship that will be wonderful but different.
When Jesus said it was written that God is not the God of the dead, He was emphasizing that God would not claim to be the God of someone who no longer existed. Therefore, when we leave this earth we still exist somewhere and await the judgment (John 5:28-29). And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching (Matt. 22:33).
By Guy Roberson
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