Questioned About the Resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40)

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2008-08-19 13:19.

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The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, did not believe in a resurrection from the dead. (Acts 23:8) Knowing that Jesus taught that there would be a resurrection, the Sadducees determined to try to make this teaching appear unreasonable. They referred to what Moses had written concerning levirate marriage, which required that the brother of a man who died childless take the widow of the deceased as his wife and father offspring for his brother. They cited the example of a woman who, through the provision of levirate marriage, came to have seven husbands, all of whom died childless. (Matthew 22:23-27; Mark 12:18-22; Luke 20:27-32) Whether this involved an actual case or a hypothetical one cannot be determined from the narrative.

The Sadducees asked whose wife she would be in the resurrection. (Matthew 22:28; Mark 12:23; Luke 20:33) Seemingly, in their view, it would have been unthinkable for a woman to be the wife of seven husbands upon being raised from the dead and, therefore, the idea about a resurrection was problematic and unreasonable.

Jesus reproved them for knowing neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. “The sons of this age,” or humans in the present state of earthly existence, “marry and are given in marriage.” In the age to come, Jesus indicated that there would be a different kind of life, one that existed among the angels, heavenly beings who neither marry nor are given in marriage and who do not die. As persons raised to unending life or “sons of the resurrection,” the resurrected ones would be “sons of God.” Thus Jesus showed that the Sadducees did not know the power of God. They had rejected belief in a resurrection on the basis of only one kind of existence and allowed their narrow view to limit what divine power could accomplish. (Matthew 22:29, 30; Mark 12:24, 25; Luke 20:34-36)

Next Jesus made it clear that they did not know the Scriptures, failing to see indications about future life in words that they professed to accept. He called attention to the incident involving Moses at the burning bush. (Exodus 3:1-6) Moses heard the words, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Jesus added, “He is God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all alive to him.” (Matthew 22:31, 32; Mark 12:26, 27; Luke 20:37, 38)

His being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob confirms an existing and continuing relationship with them as persons. The Most High does not have a relationship with the lifeless elements of the ground to which the three patriarchs had returned long before the revelation to Moses at the burning bush. This enduring relationship confirmed the certainty of the resurrection hope. So sure was it that, to God, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were living.

Mark 12:27 indicates that Jesus also told the Sadducees that, by denying belief in the resurrection, they were very much in error. Many who had been listening to Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection were astounded, likely because of its clarity and simplicity. (Matthew 22:33) Even certain scribes acknowledged that Jesus had expressed himself well as a teacher. Thereafter the Sadducees did not dare to question him any more, doubtless because of having failed in their attempt to discredit him. (Luke 20:39, 40)