Matthew 22:23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him.25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, 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.
Big Idea: Knowing the Bible does not equal understanding the Bible
The Sadducees were a separate religious faction from the pharisees. Specifically, they didn’t believe in a resurrection. Once you were dead, that was it. Their argument was that resurrection wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). Since they only recognized the Torah as scripture, they viewed the idea of resurrection as a silly religious trend.
So their question regarding marriage in the afterlife wasn’t meant enable the Sadducees to arrest Jesus, they just wanted to make him and the pharisees look stupid. So they asked a question that they believed highlighted the absurdity of life after death… how are you going to deal with all of our spouses suddenly around at the same time?
Just like with the pharisees, Christ showed his deep understanding of the scripture and the fallacy in the Sadducees’ question and their own understandings of God’s word. He responded that there is no marriage after death at all. And if you claim to believe the scriptures but don’t believe in the resurrection, then why did God refer to himself as the (present tense) God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? The God of the living!
Application: The Sadducees knew the scriptures. They knew what the Bible said, but they didn’t understand what it meant. As believers, we have an advantage over the Sadducees, we have the Holy Spirit guiding our understanding and giving us insight. But it also takes humility. Pride comes from believing that we, ourselves, know what is best, therefore our own understanding of scripture can’t be flawed… can it? The crowd surrounding Jesus had the opportunity to clearly hear the truth and to hear it explained. Some of them undoubtedly accepted what he said, and some more than likely rejected it, just like the Sadducees. The Spirit can teach us. Humility means the pursuit of truth is never ending, because we are always ready to learn, even if that means admitting we were wrong about something.