Matthew 22:23-33 – Yeah, Jesus, But What if…?: Jesus Has the Answers! He Is God After All

Posted: March 6, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 22:23-33
Marriage at the Resurrection

Have you ever seen kids sitting around talking about their favorite superheroes and each one knows of the strengths and weaknesses of each superhero? They sit around and come up with scenarios and situations that would play upon the weaknesses of the superheroes and who would come out on top. Video games are built on this premise as well. In business, we make acquisition decisions or make capital purchase decisions based on what if scenarios as well. What if interest rates go up 2/10 of a point, what will that do to the payback on our investment and so on? Predicting hypothetical situations is part of life. As well, sometimes we get jealous of someone else’s knowledge and seeming understanding of a situation or a concept, and we try to come up with a scenario that is a no-win situation for that person. You’ve heard it before, “well, Mr. Smarty Pants, what if…” That kind of feeling of trying to dream up a no-right answer, no-win situation is what I think of when I read this passage, Matthew 22:23-33:

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’[b]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

Under the Law of Moses in Deutoronomy 25:5-6, if a husband died suddenly leaving his wife without children, it was the duty of the surviving eldest remaining brother who was not already married to marry his brother’s wife. In a society where a widow without male sons would be destitute and have to resort to begging it provided a social security for women that was beneficial. Also, since the Sadducees were old school when it came to what constituted the Word of God. They only believed what was written in the first five books of the Bible. They felt like anything that came after that like the books of the prophets, the Psalms and so on were not holy and therefore not to be binding on Israel. Since the books written by Moses, the Pentatuech, did not directly mention resurrection, they did not believe in it. Therefore, their question to Jesus was a surprising one for them to ask. Their question presupposed that life the other side of the grave will be exactly as it is this side, in terms of human relationships. In vv. 29-30, Jesus made it clear that the Sadducees did not understand the Scriptures because the Scriptures taught resurrection (e.g., Psalm 16). They did not understand God’s power because they assumed life after resurrection, in heaven, would be the same as it is now.

In the resurrection form of existence, sexual relationships will be different from what they are now. Marriage relationships as we now know them will not exist after our resurrection as we will have an existence which we cannot even fathom now and our whole purpose in eternity will be different from our purpose for existence is like here on this side of eternity. This is not to say that we won’t carry the memories of the ones we love with us but we simply cannot enforce what we know of our existence on this side of eternity on what it will be like on that side. In vv.31-32, Jesus returned to what Scripture teaches (v. 29). He introduced His clarification with a customary rebuke, “Have you not read?”. The passage He cited, Exodus 3:6, is as we had said previously was a part of the Hebrew Bible that the Sadducees treated with great respect.

In Exodus 3:6, God described Himself to Moses that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob not that He was, but that He is. He was still their God even though they had died hundreds of years earlier. This statement implied the continuing bodily existence of the patriarchs. The logical conclusion is that if God will fulfill His promise to continue to be the God of the patriarchs He must raise them from the dead. Thus Jesus showed that the Pentateuch, the abbreviated canon of the Sadducees, clearly implied the reality of a future resurrection.

So, what is it exactly in this scene that we can take away from it for our use as Christ followers in this day and age in which we live. I have struggled with this last night and again this morning as I prepared to write this blog. We know that Jesus demonstrated his complete understanding of Scripture. He is God in the flesh afternoon. The Bible is His book. He is the inspirer and guider of those who wrote it. We know that He shut the Sadducees up just as He did the Pharisees and Herodians before them on this day in the Temple. Jesus proved that He had a greater understanding of life and Scripture than anyone. Maybe that is what we take away. Compare everything to the Bible because it is the truth of God. We take Jesus’ word over any other because He and the Father are one. Jesus is God in the flesh.

We have many Sadducee like people in the world today who misinterpret Scripture. We have those out there that abound in twisting Scripture to meet their own agenda. We have people out there that do not know Scripture but claim that they do and make the Scriptures say what they want them to say. We have many Christian authors out there that people read with eagerness but yet their Bibles are gathering dust in the bookcase or on the coffee table. Sometimes we put more stock in what Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, and other mega-star preachers than we do in what is the basis of our lives, the Bible. I am not saying that we should not read the latest authors but it should never take the place of or be instead of the Bible. We must compare everything to the Bible. It is the basis, the baseline, by which we compare everything in life. It is God’s Word. Everything else is secondary to that. Everything must be held to its standard. We must place the Bible as the highest authority in our lives. The Bible is consistent and timeless and never will lead us wrong. We must trust it, believe it, and make it the measuring stick for everything in our lives. We must understand it. Study it. And not try to make it say what we want it to say but learn what God’s meanings are because He is the ultimate authority in our lives not the other way around. We should come away speechless at the authority of God. With reverence and awe.

Amen and Amen.

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