The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. So too the second and third, down to the seventh. After them all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘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.” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Here we see how politics makes strange bedfellows. For the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians this was pure politics. It was a power play. Jesus threatened their hold on power. So they came together to oppose the Christ.
We see this today in civil government. We see this in the church. We see this in civic clubs. Even the bowling club has people who want what little power it has. Where ever there of organizations made up of people, there are those how what to be top dog. They want to control it.
The Pharisees and Herodians failed to entrap Jesus. Now it is the Sadducees’ turn. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. That is why they were sad you see. Sorry for that poor attempt at humor.
They brought Jesus a question. This question appeared to have no answer if you held to the resurrection. If they could trap Jesus on the horns of this dilemma they might force Him to reverse his position. That would destroy Him as a teacher.
Their question is like one asked today. “Can God make a rock so big He cannot lift it?” If He can then He is not all-powerful. He cannot lift the rock. If He cannot then He is not all-powerful because he could not make the rock. The issue is the false assumption built into the question. The question asked is can God stop being God? Can He create something else to be God? The answer to that is no. If God stopped being God all things would seize to exist. Even the rock He created would stop being. God creates and sustains all things. So God cannot make a rock so big He cannot lift it because He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13) He cannot, not be God.
The Sadducees’ question is similar. The underlying assumption is incorrect. This appears to be a question they often used to stump those who believed in the resurrection.
It is rare we get to point out when the Pharisees were correct. But here, the Pharisees were correct. There is a resurrection. They may not understand it. We may not understand it. But ignorance does not deny its reality.
Luke tells us the Sadducees denied the final resurrection, angels, and spirits. (Act 23:8.) They were modern-day imperialists. If they could not empirically verify something that meant it did not exist.
According to Mosaic Law, if a man died without offspring, His brother was to raise a son for him through his widow. (Genesis 3:38; Deuteronomy 25:5-10). This is a levirate marriage. (see Ruth 4:12). The brother of a man who died without a son had an obligation to marry his brother’s widow. This served a few purposes. First, it provided for the widow with children to care for her. Otherwise, she had to beg in order to live. Second, it preserved the name of the deceased. The deceased man was the legal father of the first son produced from the marriage. But if there were children, in the first marriage, the brother was not to take the woman. That was incestuous. (Leviticus 18:16)
Their error is this. “God will restore everything He gave a man in this life after the resurrection. So to whom will He give this woman? God had given her to seven different husbands.”
Sinful men and heretics make use of similar means to make their claims. They distort sound doctrine. They use their distortion to shame the servants of Christ. It is for that reason we must study and prepare for their ambush attacks. They feel no shame when they question God’s clear teaching. That is why Paul tells us to prepare so we may repel them, (Titus 1:9.)
Jesus’ rebuke is swift. It is straightforward and direct. And it is unmistakable. Jesus did not say they erred. He did not say you did not understand. His response was brutal. “You are wrong!” Not only are you wrong. You don’t even have a clue. You don’t know the scripture to which you are referring. And you have no idea of the power of God.
This rebuke applies not only to the Sadducees but to all who invent new and false doctrines. To avoid this condemnation we must study the scripture. We must draw closer and closer to Christ every day.
The resurrection exceeds our ability to understand it. It seems unrealistic. It even seems ridiculous. That is because we don’t understand the boundless power of God. Paul tells us, God is able to subdue all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:21.) The Sadducees could not understand. They underestimated the glory and power of God. They equated heavenly life to this present life. Their ignorance caused them to deny God’s power.
What does Jesus mean by the resurrected are like angels? He is not saying they are like angles in all respects. Luke clarifies this. (Luke 20:34-36) The resurrected can no longer die.
But it may appear that Jesus created another problem. Men need wives. (Genesis 2:18) That is why God created woman to be a helper. That conclusion ignores the first three rules of biblical interpretation. They are context, context, and context. In the context of this world, men need wives. Men need helpers. But that is not the context in which Jesus was speaking. Jesus’ context was after the resurrection.
Well, what about Genesis 2:24? It says the two shall become one. What about that? Well Scooter, ya messed that up as badly as the Sadducees. The first step in understanding the Bible is to ask, “What does it say?”
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”(Genesis 2:24)
It does not say they become one. It says they become one flesh. That is a strange way of speaking. What does “one flesh” mean? I know this comes as a shock but verse 24 follows verse 23. (See you learn new things every day) So let’s back up and understand the context.
Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.(Genesis 2:23)
When we come across a word or phrase we do not understand we need to look at how the bible uses it elsewhere. That can help us understand its meaning. But that is not helpful because this is the only place the bible uses the phrase, “one flesh.”
Adam declared the woman “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” The Bible does use that phrase elsewhere. It refers to blood relation. The phrase describes the relationship between Laban and Jacob (Genesis 29:14) . It describes the relationship between Abimelech and the Shechemites. (Judges 9::2) It uses it in David and the Israelites. (2 Samuel 5:1) It describes David and the elders of Judah. (2 Samuel 19:12) It describes David and his nephew Amasa. (2 Samuel 19:13) There are other references as well.
So, the woman is bone of bone and flesh of flesh. The man and woman become one flesh after the man leaves his father and mother. When we put the phrase in that light its meaning becomes clear. They become a new and separate family.
In this first marriage, God formed the woman from the man’s actual bone and flesh. Later marriages do not involve this divine surgical operation. But the first marriage sets the pattern for understanding later marriages. It explains why marriage supersedes the parent-child relationship.
But wait a minute! What about the family? Is Jesus saying there will be no families in the resurrection? No. Family is of vital importance. Jesus referred to God as Father. He refers to the redeemed as children of God. (Romans 8:16-17; 9:8) We are part of a family. The family of God. God adopted the redeemed into the family of God. The family exists in the resurrection. It is the family of God.
Then Christ tops this off with a final touch. He quotes Exodus 3:6. This was a part of scripture the Sadducees valued. God is, not was, the God of the patriarchs. God is the God of the living not the dead. God calls us to an eternal relationship with Him. The patriarchs continue to live. They live now. In the future God will resurrect them. This is a both/and. It is not an either/or.