Summary: Many times we seek to understand and manipulate God by our human ideas. We need to get rid of our preconceptions about what God is doing in our lives and let Him direct how we think and pray.
Do you ever watch one of those martial arts movies – pick one, any one, it doesn’t matter – how about "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?" There is always a scene, at least one, where the hero or heroine is taking on a whole group of bad guys or gals. Two of them square off in the middle – and when the hero dispatches one guy, another steps up to take his place from a different angle. I always wonder why they take turns like nice kids in kindergarten? But anyway – today’s events in the life of Jesus as recorded by Matthew remind me of a martial arts movie – where first one foe tries their best to trip up the Messiah – then when Jesus knocks them to the mat by His wisdom, the next group steps up and tries to confound Him.
They start by posing a hypothetical situation.
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 have children for him.
Very little is known about the Sadducees – except that they probably came into being in the 2nd century BC. They believed only in the Pentateuch – the first five books of Moses. Because Moses didn’t make any direct references to the resurrection of the dead, they rejected it – and in fact, anything supernatural.
As I have mentioned before – they were the equivalent to what we know of today as rationalists – the only things that exist are those things which we can see around us.
The law they were quoting is from Deuteronomy 25:5-6. The law was designed to make sure a family line continued and they didn’t lose their property. It also protected the widows who were in those days not cared for unless they were married.
So far they are merely quoting the law – but they attempt to weave a logical noose around Jesus as they press their logic forward.
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?""
"Aha," they think, "we’ve got Him now." They didn’t believe in the resurrection – and so are using this extreme example to make their case. The law against polygamy versus the law of continuing the family line.
Once again these groups are trying to get God to cancel Himself out – like in the laws regarding marriage and divorce where the Pharisees tried to show that God commanded and frowned on divorce. But as in that case, Jesus points out that these men look at the letters of the law, and miss the Spirit behind the law, and the God who wrote it.
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.
Jesus refuses to fall into their silly riddle. The Sadducees didn’t believe in heaven or angels – but that wasn’t the point of Jesus’ answer. What He was telling them was that the same rules on earth do not apply in heaven. He wasn’t saying that we become angels – but that like the angels, there won’t be any need for propagation in heaven as there is on earth to continue to replace humans that die.
In heaven there will be no death – because God gives a new life to us – not a physical life like we have here – but an eternal life. This isn’t a teaching about marriage or angels – but about the principal that eternal life exists and that it is fundamentally different that life here on earth.
If the Sadducees had know the Scriptures they wouldn’t have asked the question because God clearly talks about a resurrection from the dead – and if they knew the power of God they would know it is possible.
They tried to get God to fit into their nice little belief system – a box where they could control Him. But God won’t fit into any box.
We need to be careful that we don’t try to fit God into our preconceptions. Sometimes we base our theology on our ideas about God, instead of what He says. God isn’t like we think – He is who He is. How do we know Him – by reading and seeking to understand Him through His Word and His power. Study the Bible – get to know the God of the Bible, and take Him at His Word – don’t try to monkey the Bible around to your way of thinking.