The Sadducees were the educated elite of the day. The Sadducees had no interest in the afterlife, resurrection, and really just thought the purpose of life was to be a good person, and then die, and that view isn’t really that different than many of the people who live in this part of our city.
In verse 23 the Sadducees come to Jesus with this scenario to catch Jesus in a Kobayashi Maru, an unsolvable problem, because who will be the woman’s husband in this “so called” resurrection.
Matthew 22:29-33, “29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.”
The first thing Jesus does is tell them, “You’re wrong.” Isn’t that great? The Sadducees, Ivy League Educated, Elite who think they have Jesus backed into a corner and Jesus just says, “Nope!”
In the Greek it is even stronger like you “They are going astray, the Greek word planao, which is where we get the word planet, like you are living on a another planet.” You’re not understanding the Scripture. You’re not understanding the power of God.” Jesus rebukes the argument!
In verse 31 Jesus says, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”
- Now, we need to be clear here. First, did you notice we aren’t married in the resurrection? So many times we elevate marriage, which is a gift, but the greatest erotic, romantic, sense of oneness in marriage will seem like a dewdrop compared to the resurrection we have in Christ. What a horrible response from the Pope to give the impression that marriage is the primary pathway into family! No, our pathway into family is Christ!
- Second, we need to be clear that Jesus doesn’t say we become angels in verse 31. I know we all love those angelic figurines, or we like to think of our aunt becoming an angel watching over us, but Jesus says in the resurrection we will be like angels. Yes, we will be spiritual beings, eternal beings, like angels, but angels are created beings and in Christ we are redeemed. As the Apostle Paul writes, “We are sown perishable, but raised imperishable; we are sown in dishonor, but raised in glory; sown in weakness, but raised in power, and more glorious than any angel because in the resurrection we are redeemed in Jesus!
But, then the hammer drops when Jesus takes the Sadducees to verse 32 and quotes Exodus when God speaks to Moses and says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Do you see what Jesus does in verse 32?
Jesus doesn’t say, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” but now I am not because they are dead, but instead “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Of course there is life after death, and Jesus does it with one verse!
What can we learn from Jesus on how to engage arguments? We probably aren’t going to run into any Sadducees, but what can we learn as we watch Jesus engage arguments in His day?
1. Jesus is aware that people are trying to bait Him into nonsense. We are going to go home around the holidays, maybe the person at the grocery store, and even in our community groups there are going to be times people are trying to bait us into an argument?
2. Jesus doesn’t constantly cover up arguments with niceties. In our culture today we are so sensitive to one another and we say things like, “Good point, that’s interesting” and we need to take this in, “Jesus just says you’re wrong.”
3. Jesus meets the Sadducees where they can find common ground. Are people wondering about the afterlife today? You know it!
But, I think somehow life after death in Jesus has been reduced to clouds, harps, and a really long worship service for eternity, so that people in our culture and maybe even in the church are thinking of life after death with Jesus as almost boring.
But, you need to know God’s Word doesn’t describe life after death as a white room with a choir where we listen to Pastor Jesus preach for eternity.
No, God’s Word is like 1 Corinthians 15, Romans 8, Revelation 22 all talking about a glorious New Heaven, New Earth, and the story of resurrection is really a story of restoration.