Summary: Sadducees disagreed--with nearly everybody. They had their version of the Torah, much like the Samaritans. So the question must be asked; want to argue or be "all in" the service of our God?
November 10, 2013
A man opens his eyes and realizes he’s in front of St. Peter at the pearly gates. Immediately St. Peter said, “It’s not so easy getting into heaven. There are some criteria to be met before entering. “For example,” Peter said, “were you religious? Did you attend church? Were you generous; give money to the poor? What about charities? Do you do any of these things?”
The man sheepishly said, “No.”
“Oh, that’s bad,” Peter mumbled.
“Well, did you do any good deeds? …help your neighbor? Anything?”
The man only shook his head.
“Look,” Peter said, “everybody does something nice sometime. Work with me! I’m trying to help. Now think!
The man’s face took on a smile then he said. “There was this old lady. See, I came out of the store and found her surrounded by a dozen mean bikers. They had her purse and were shoving her, taunting and abusing her. So, I threw down my bags and fought through the crowd, got her purse back and helped her to her feet. Then I went up to the biggest biker and told him how despicable, cowardly and mean he was then spat in his face.”
“Wow,” Peter said, “that’s impressive. When did this happen?”
The man replied, “Oh, about 10-minutes ago.”
The Master must have felt like Sadducees mirrored the bikers by constantly going against Him, yet the Sadducees were coming at Jesus in our focus scripture of Luke 20:27 through 38, with their disbelief in the resurrection of the soul.
Luke is loaded with accounts of arguments, since this is the Book where so many disagreements are documented, from Messiah at age 12, when He stayed behind in the Temple to argue. Like the other events recorded in Luke, this one is also about what the Torah teaches. The writer of Luke makes it clear that Yeshua observes the Law in the Torah and knows about tradition of the Jewish ancestors. Once educated in tradition, Sadducees became fixed in their ways and thinking, so they were among the best at right fighting.
Today we would likely call Sadducees “nit-pickers” since they were determined to get others to see their way, using minor issues. Some of the things they believed included; there is no such thing as fate, the soul is not immortal and there is no afterlife, and there are no rewards or penalties after death. They did believe that man has the choice of being good or evil. Obviously, this line of thinking has not gone away.
This sect of Jews was active in Judea for about 300-years, and according to Josephus, was considered in the upper social and economic echelon of society. Sadducees were involved in religion, social and political affairs, including maintaining the Temple. After destruction of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD, they virtually disappeared from everyday life. Perhaps the stage from which they demonstrated their pride had gone away.
In Luke 20, the Master is confronted by some of the Sadducees who were most animate about no afterlife. To prove their point by using teachings from the Torah, they asked Jesus a hypothetical question through a description. They wanted to know which man could claim a woman as his wife, after going to heaven, if she had legitimately been a widow six times after marrying seven brothers? Remember, they didn’t believe in the resurrection but used their interpretation in an attempt to defeat the Teacher’s credibility.
It is legitimate to ask; why would the Sadducees believe so differently while they were a part of the Temple structure? The answer is that they believed in what they believed were the inspired books of the Torah. The Pentateuch was the only part of the Bible accepted by their sect, while Pharisees added and followed the Prophets and Psalms as scripture. Pharisees accepted the idea of the afterlife and resurrection of the dead, but not the Sadducees.
It certainly sounds like denominational thinking today, doesn’t it? Theological differences causing arguments that drive Christians apart, replace activities that God needs us to accomplish. Yet, like the Sadducees, we confront other believers, pushing them into defensive positions for our own satisfaction rather than promote unity for the purpose of saving a lost world. Like fussing siblings, we just can’t help ourselves. It appears that being right is more important than being happy and loving one another. Can’t you see God, with His mighty fists on His hips, bellowing at the top of His thunderous voice, “Stop it!”
Maxwell Perkins, the famous book editor, once wrote, "One of my deepest convictions is that the terrible harms that are done in this world are not done by deliberately evil people, who are not numerous and are soon found out. They are done by the good--by those who are so sure that God is with them. Nothing can stop them, for they are certain that they are right.” Perkins’ comment is so parallel with Luke 20. While we often demonize Sadducees, they were no worse than the Samaritans, who also believed in still a different Torah, and would have nothing to do with people who disagreed with them. Both were wanting to be correct to garner God’s approval, still the evil in such disagreements is the time arguments take away from service to God’s people, and removal of love for one another.