Summary: When a person’s religion is false at its foundation, they won’t even know the right questions to ask.
Some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Jesus, and began questioning Him, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN’S BROTHER DIES and leaves behind a wife AND LEAVES NO CHILD, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER. 20 “There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children. 21 “The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise; 22 and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also. 23 “In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 “But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, and the God of Jacob’? 27 “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.”
It was near the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus and things were heating up between Him and the Jewish leaders who wished to catch Him in some inconsistency or some supposed violation of the Mosaic Law so they could get rid of Him.
With His crucifixion only days away and spending His time healing and teaching in Jerusalem and at the Temple Jesus also fields questions from the Pharisees, finally asserts His divine authority in the cleansing of the Temple and in telling them the parable of the Vine-growers and their treachery against the owner’s son.
When they try to trap Him into showing disloyalty to Caesar He turns the tables on them once more and shuts their mouths with simple common sense. They should give to Caesar what bears his name and likeness, and they should surrender to God that which bears His name and likeness. Not exactly rocket science, but we do so often miss the point, don’t we?
Such is the case with the Sadducees.
In his Bible exposition commentary, Wiersbe offers this simple description of the sect known as the Sadducees.
“This group accepted only the Law of Moses as their religious authority; so, if a doctrine could not be defended from the first five books of the Old Testament, they would not accept it. They did not believe in the existence of the soul, life after death, resurrection, final judgment, angels, or demons (see Acts 23:8). Most of the Sadducees were priests and were wealthy. They considered themselves the “religious aristocrats” of Judaism and tended to look down on everybody else”.
In his statements Wiersbe refers to Acts 23, where Paul has been dragged up before the Council of the Sanhedrin to defend his gospel. In the room are members of both the Pharisees, who did believe in a resurrection and in angels and demons and so forth, and Sadducees who did not.
Then in verse 6 Paul declares that the very reason he is on trial is for his belief in the hope of a resurrection from the dead. This starts a clamor between the Pharisees and the Sadducees that almost turns into a riot, which moves the Roman commander present to remove Paul for his own safety.
So what we have here are men who are very zealous for their religion, two groups believing very different things, both putting their trust in the traditions of men and human understanding and wisdom, going about with a veil over their eyes and blinded to truth.
In Matthew 13:14-15 Jesus applied the words of Isaiah to these people when He said through the prophet:
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.’
It is a primary characteristic of faulty religion that its adherents will deliberately close their ears and eyes and hearts to correction and instruction, because they have made up their mind about what they will believe and nothing can be allowed to change that; even the Scriptures and even the Holy Spirit.
There is an abundance of evidence even in the five books of Moses, for angels, demons, the fact that man does indeed have a soul (Gen 2:7), and although the resurrection is not taught specifically in those historical books, there are ample references to ‘forever’ and ‘everlasting’ things in the promises of God to the patriarchs that should have been clues to something beyond this life for those who put their trust in Jehovah.