The King’s defence
The religious and political leaders are trying to trip Jesus up. The first was the Pharisees and Herodians; now it is the Saddusee’s turn. They hope they will stop Jesus, but they have no idea what Jesus’ mission is and they are actually helping Jesus.
Jesus came to be God’s sacrifice for all mankind, by trying to make Jesus and being able to find no fault in him despite their effort they show what he is, God’s perfect sacrifice. The temple sacrificial animals had to be without fault or blemish. Jesus fits the bill.
23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”
29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither 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 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘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.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.Matthew 22:23-33 ESVUK
Methodical Matthew strikes again. Matthew’s Gospel is full of things arranged in numbers – I first realised this when looking at the miracles in chapters 8 and 9, nine miracles grouped in three groups of three. There are more threes here: We have had three parables by Jesus aimed at the chief priests, and now three questions raised by religious leaders. I wondered, “Do these questions correlate with the parables?” They do,
So I’ll compare this to the parable of the tenants in the vineyard, which I have already posted about, Matthew 21:33–46.
The parable of the tenants in the vineyard. Told of the owner of a vineyard who sent his son to collect the profits from the harvest, but instead of paying up the tenants kill the son. There is no mention of resurrection in that parable, and the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, which it points to, is incomplete without talking of the resurrection.
The question from the Sadducees is all about resurrection. They do not believe in resurrection, and the story they bring is one they would have used in their arguments with the resurrection-believing Pharisees. This then is positioned in Matthew’s Gospel as the conclusion of the parable of the tenants in the vineyard: There is resurrection.
I regularly visit my father who has dementia and lives in a care home. One of the things that keep him going is his belief that he will be with Mum again in heaven. “I can’t wait to be with your mum again,” he tells me nearly every visit. I love that his love for Mum still shines through. I am also far too tactful to tell this sick old man in his 90s that there is no marriage in heaven and destroy the one thing that keeps him going, who knows, lack of tact like that could destroy his faith in God as well. Pastoral concerns, looking after people and their well-being, should always come before theological and philosophical concerns. Too many people have been hurt by churches and pastors who put theology first.
But these theological truths have a place for being discussed. “When a widow remarries whose wife will she be in heaven,” asked the Sadducees, trying to trick Jesus. Jesus tells them they are wrong. None of the tactful answers like that to the question by the Pharisees, is it right to pay taxes to Caesar? A straight answer, they are wrong because they do not know the Scriptures or the power of God on two counts.
- There is no marriage in heaven.
- Even they say that God is the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is, nit was, meaning that they attest that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been resurrected and are alive.
This answer of Jesus points not to his resurrection but to ours, we will be raised from death. We will be raised, but the resurrection of Jesus gives us confidence that we shall be raised. The Holy Spirit, which has been poured out by Jesus on all who believe in him, also testifies within us that Christ is risen, therefore we shall be raised, in fact, we are already risen in Christ. Hallelujah.