Matthew 22 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence Bowlin
In our text this morning in vv.23-33 Jesus is questioned by the Sadducees concerning the resurrection of the dead. One of the prominent differences between the Pharisees and the Sadducees was this particular doctrine. Although the Pharisees were legalistic in their application of scripture, they had a very high regard for the fundamentals of Biblical doctrine and were firm believers in the spiritual realm. The Sadducees, on the other hand, were the liberals in that particular culture and did not believe in angels or demons. They did not believe in miracles, and they certainly did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
So when they confront Jesus asking him what seemingly is a trick question, they are hoping to stump him and overwhelm with the ridiculousness of their example. Quoting the Law of Moses from Deuteronomy 25:5, they share this truth: ““If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” Since the Pharisees were great devotees to the Law of Moses, much more so than the Sadducees, this was the go-to passage for the Sadducees to use the law against them. But now they are seeking to use God’s law to trick God’s Son.
After quoting this passage, the Sadducees give a scenario in which a particular man dies having no children, and his brother, who is next in line, then takes his brother’s wife to raise up offspring in his name. But before that happens, he also dies. Then the second brother takes her as his wife but he also dies, then the third, and so on down the line until the poor woman herself dies. Finally, the Sadducees ask Jesus whose wife will be she be in the resurrection. At this point, I imagine the Sadducees are smirking widely thinking that they have put Jesus in the same quandary as the Pharisees in their discussion of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But immediately Jesus provides the answer in the form of a rebuke.
There are the two things the Sadducees are lacking in this discussion and in all of life: they do not know the Scriptures nor do they know the power of God. First, he corrects their faulty understanding of Scripture explaining to them that human marriage is a temporary contract only binding upon man on this side of heaven. But then he refers to a simple title for God that is used at least seven times in the Torah where God refers to himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Since the Sadducees only held that the first five books of Moses were binding, Jesus stuck to those books alone in defending his answer, showing them that Moses clearly believed in the resurrection of the dead, stating that the Lord God is a God of the living and not the dead.
It is always good to be reminded of the truth of Scripture and the power of God to raise our lifeless bodies from the dead. But in days like today, it is also good to know that the Lord is still working as our God in the realm of the living, and that He is, in fact, a living and moving God. Though we don’t often understand what He is doing or when or where He is moving, it is our knowledge of the Scriptures and of the power of God that distinguishes us from the unbelievers. Just as God was and is a God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so he is and will be a God to us both in this life and in the life to come. And as He promised Abraham originally, so He promises us today, that He will be our shield in the land of the living and that our reward shall be very great.” For those who believe these promises, their faith alone will be counted to them as righteousness.