The Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity is November 5, 2022.

Readings for Year C can be found here.

The Gospel reading is as follows, emphases mine:

Luke 20:27-38

20:27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him

20:28 and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.

20:29 Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless;

20:30 then the second

20:31 and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless.

20:32 Finally the woman also died.

20:33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

20:34 Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage;

20:35 but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.

20:36 Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.

20:37 And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

20:38 Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Commentary comes from Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Last week’s reading about Zacchaeus was near the end of Luke’s 10-chapter long account of our Lord’s final lessons to His disciples and the Pharisees, along with His final healing miracles to those in the crowds following Him.

We are now in the middle of Holy Week.

John MacArthur says of the timing of this story:

this is Wednesday Matthew, in fact, gives the parallel account to Luke in Matthew 22.  Mark gives a parallel account in Mark 12.  Matthew says they came on the same day.  The same day as the prior questioning by the Pharisees which puts it on Wednesday. 

Wednesday was a busy day for Jesus, the last week of His life.  He is crucified on Friday.  On Wednesday He’s teaching in the temple, and He is in dialogue with the people, and He is in conflict with these leaders.  The Pharisees have come after Him.  The Herodians have come after Him.  And now it is the Sadducees’ turn.  And they are furious at Jesus. 

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that the Sadducees were the theological free-thinkers of their era, as they did not believe in the resurrection of the body:

I. In every age there have been men of corrupt minds, that have endeavoured to subvert the fundamental principles of revealed religion. As there are deists now, who call themselves free-thinkers, but are really false-thinkers; so there were Sadducees in our Saviour’s time, who bantered the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, though they were plainly revealed in the Old Testament, and were articles of the Jewish faith. The Sadducees deny that there is any resurrection, any future state, so anastasis may signify; not only no return of the body to life, but no continuance of the soul in life, no world of spirits, no state of recompence and retribution for what was done in the body. Take away this, and all religion falls to the ground.

II. It is common for those that design to undermine any truth of God to perplex it, and load it with difficulties. So these Sadducees did; when they would weaken people’s faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, they put a question upon the supposition of it, which they thought could not be answered either way to satisfaction. The case perhaps was matter of fact, at least it might be so, of a woman that had seven husbands. Now in the resurrection whose wife shall she be? whereas it was not at all material whose she was, for when death puts an end to that relation it is not to be resumed.

Marriage is an institution meant for this life; it will no longer exist in the next. Jesus’s teaching appeared in an old episode of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm several years ago. Larry told his Gentile wife that they would no longer be married in the next life. She became very angry, indeed. He said, ‘But it’s true!’ If I remember rightly, he chided her for not knowing the New Testament, which made her even angrier.

MacArthur has a fascinating account of the Sadducees’ ties with Rome, even though they were the top of the elitist heap that made up the Sanhedrin. Their links with Rome, which made them very rich, angered everyday Jews who experienced the corruption at the temple in Jerusalem, particularly with regard to purchasing animals for sacrifices:

When you study the gospel accounts, you don’t see the Sadducees very often.  You don’t see them in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.  You don’t see them as He’s moving around in the land of Judea.  Where you see them is where they always were, and that’s at the temple.  They come into play at the times that Jesus cleanses the temple. 

He did it at the beginning of His ministry.  He did it again at the end … in chapter 19.  They ran the temple operation, very lucrative, very powerful.  They were wealthy.  And Jesus interrupted their very successful business.  They hated Him.  They were furious at Him for what He had just done a matter of hours before this event in cleansing the temple, throwing out the buyers and the sellers and the moneychangers.  And so He had assaulted them.  Just as He had assaulted the theology of the Pharisees, He had assaulted the economics of the Sadducees.  They had the power over the temple operation.

Now let me just give you a little more background about them.  Politically, they were eager to cooperate with Rome.  Since there was no resurrection, since there was nothing to be worried about in the life to come, they put all their stock in this life They went after all the power, all the wealth, all the position, all the control that they could get.

And in order to do that, they had to cooperate with Rome because they were an occupied country under Roman power.  It was the Romans who gave them the right to do what they did.  They had a delegated authority from the Romans.  And so they did everything they could to kowtow to Rome to make sure they curried the favor of Rome to keep their position.  The people hated them.  They hated them.  That’s why there weren’t many of them.  It wasn’t a popular thing to be. 

The people hated them for their accommodation to Rome and they hated them for the corruption of the system to which the people were subjected every time they came to the temple They pursued policies that pleased Rome, and therefore they pursued policies that angered the Jews.  And their corrupt temple operation was a continual irritation to the nation.

When the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the Sadducees disappeared:

… in the destruction of 70 A.D. when the Romans finally had all they could take from the Jews who were rebelling against them and came in and destroyed Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, crushed the nation, actually massacred people in up to a thousand towns and villages around Israel, when the Romans finally brought it all down, the Sadducees ceased to exist.  Once their priestly position and power was broken their history was over.

Although the Sadducees were free-thinkers when it came to the resurrection of the body and everlasting life, they were more fundamentalist than the Pharisees when it came to interpreting Scripture for the ordinary Jew:

Religiously, they were very narrow and very strict.  Some people have thought that they were liberal.  They were liberal in the sense that they didn’t believe in resurrection and angels and spirits and that’s a view like liberal theologians take today.  But in applying justice in the land and in applying the law, they werecruelIt was part of how they kept their power to be cruel. 

Josephus tells us they were more savage than any other group of Jews.  The Pharisees, he says, does Josephus, were lenient in dealing with people compared to the Sadducees.  They were brutal in enforcing their will upon the people as they interpreted the Law of God in order to keep their power and position.  They were viewed, then, as fundamentalists and traditionalists who refused to accept the oral law and the scribal law.  Which, by the way, the Pharisees fully accepted.  The Pharisees accepted Scripture and the oral tradition and the scribal writings.  But the Sadducees did not.  They only accepted Scripture. 

They prided themselves on being committed to the pure faith, nothing more.  They interpreted Mosaic Law more literally than any others and were fastidious beyond all others in the matters of Levitical purity … 

They ended up like that because they honoured only the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses:

Now the question comes, how in the world could they call themselves literalists, fundamentalists, traditionalists, purists, adhering to Scripture and not accept the Scriptures that I read to you about resurrection?  And the answer is they very likely held to the primacy and the priority of the Mosaic Law, that is the five books of Moses, the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, the five books.  Everything was subordinated to the books of Moses.

Since they were protectors of the pure faith, they apparently affirmed the absolute priority of Moses.  And they said all other books in the Old Testament are merely commentaries on those five books, and since nowhere in those five books is resurrection mentioned, therefore resurrection is not a part of the pure faith, and any other attempt to talk of resurrection is an aberration, even by another Bible writer.

The doctrine of resurrection life cannot be found in the Pentateuch, they said, so resurrection as a reality must be rejected, since all of the rest of the Old Testament is only commentary on Moses and it wasn’t in Moses’ writings, then there must be another way to understand that commentary than to believe in resurrection. 

That’s how they defined themselves.  They lived life as if there were no tomorrow, being fastidious on the one hand, pounding people in a cruel and brutal way with the law, but with a view to using that to keep their power base so they could indulge themselves in anything and everything they wanted at the expense of the people.

It sounds illogical to me.

The Pharisees, by contrast, believed in the resurrection of the body and the life to come. Naturally, questions arose about what would happen. The Pharisees devised answers to those questions:

the Pharisees were very, very definitive about the resurrection.  And the Pharisees loved to discuss the resurrection.  It seems to me that they sort of followed the flow of Baruch and some other writers, that you would be raised the same way you died because the Pharisees discussed things like when you are raised from the dead, will you be naked or will you have clothes on? 

Well, they couldn’t comprehend that everybody in the resurrection would be naked so they came to the conclusion that you would have clothes on.  And then the question was where would you get the clothes?  And then the debate was about whether you get new clothes or whether you rise in the same clothes you used to wear, in fact the very clothes with which you were buried.  And then the question they loved to discuss was if you have defects in this life, physical defects, or mental defects, or whatever, when you rise from the dead again will you have those same defects? 

And many of the Pharisees felt that you would rise in the same clothes you died in and you would rise with the same defects you had in this life.  In fact, some of them believed that all Jews would rise, all Jews who died throughout all of history would all rise in the land of Israel.  In other words, wherever they died, they would all rise in the land of Israel.

And, in fact, it was suggested that beneath the earth there’s a massive network of tunnels and somehow they’re all slanted so that whenever Jews go into the ground, they wind up rolling down a series of tunnels till they all land in a pile in Israel So that they’re all conveniently there as a result of this complex of tunnels and they’ll be raised there.

The Sadducees found such statements absurd:

The Pharisees loved to discuss these kinds of things and occasionally discussed them with the Sadducees.  The Sadducees thought this was ridiculous, as it is.  Thought it was bizarre.  Thought it was outrageous and loved to scorn and mock such ridiculous things.  They became mockers of the resurrection.  They were so defined by not believing in the resurrection, that they had mastered the art of infuriating the Pharisees and the rest of the people with their arguments.  They made a joke out of resurrection.

With this in mind, some Sadducees approached Jesus (verse 27), with a question they thought would stump Him.

MacArthur says the Sadducees wanted Jesus out of their way, because if enough Jews believed in Him, their corrupt system would disappear:

I don’t really think they wanted Him arrested by the Romans.  I don’t think they necessarily cared about that.  Eventually they fell in line with that.  I think they were very worried about Rome getting involved in anything, doing anything to irritate Rome at all threatened their security But in this conflux of Pharisees and Sadducees in John 11:47, they come together, hold a council and they say, “What are we doing?  This man is performing many signs.” 

They never denied His miracles, even the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  That was what they feared, they feared losing their position, losing their place.  “And if we don’t do something about Him, the Romans are going to come and take away our position.”  That has to be the sentiment of the chief priests.  The Pharisees, they want the Romans to come and arrest Him and the people will immediately know He’s not the Messiah because He can’t overthrow the enemy.

But the Sadducees, they don’t want the Romans involved in this because they think they’ll lose their position.  So a certain one of them, the high priest, Caiaphas, who is a Sadducee, said to them, “You know nothing at all.  Do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish?”  In other words, we have to have Him put to death.  He’s got to die or we’re all going to perish. 

And so the Pharisees and the Sadducees come together, even though the Pharisees wanted Him dead for sure, the Sadducees might have not necessarily wanted Him dead thinking Rome would invade, Caiaphas steps up.  He’s the high priest.  And says, “Wait a minute, He’s got to be dead or we’re all going to lose everything.”  They’re determined that Jesus has to die.

The Sadducees’ approach is to discredit Him in front of the people by asking Him a question that nobody’s been able to answer.  This is their ultimate question.  This is the one that stumped everybody, I’m sure, all the way along in the debates.  This is their best shot.  Let’s make Him look stupid.  Let’s make Him look foolish by this question on the resurrection.

The Sadducees ask Jesus a question, addressing Him as Teacher and citing Mosaic law, about a man marrying his brother’s wife and raising his children should she become a widow (verse 28).

MacArthur explains the source of their question and why that command was there:

They bring up Moses, of course.  They bring up the Pentateuch, of course.  They bring up Deuteronomy 25.  Deuteronomy 25.

Now, I just remind you of it.  Deuteronomy 25, part of God’s law for the nation Israel, this is what it says, verse 5, “When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man.”  There are several brothers, one of them gets married, he dies before he can raise up a child to propagate the family.  She’s not to marry a stranger.  “Her husband’s brother shall go into her take her to himself as wife and marry her perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.  And it shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.”

In the time when Israel is on the edge of going into the land in the book of Deuteronomy, they’re going to go in.  The land is going to be apportioned.  Families, tribes are going to get certain portions of the land.  It is very important for those tribes to have progeny, to have offspring, to continue God’s covenant promise, and the promise is in the giving of the land to those tribes.  What happens if somebody has a wife and never gives birth to a son?  A brother in the same family then takes that woman as his own wife to raise up the seed to keep the family moving, because that was God’s covenant promise and purpose.  That was a way of protecting and preserving the nation and the identity of the peoples and the places that God had designed.  It is called levirate marriage from the Latin meaning “brother.”

It first appears in the Old Testament, by the way, back in Genesis 38 in the household of Judah, son of Joseph.  Onan refused to comply and raise up a child to his dead brother’s wife and it resulted in God taking the life of Onan in Genesis 38.  God wanted to protect and preserve His people and the tribes of His people for the fulfillment of His plan and prophecy and this is the way God did it

The hypothetical woman the Sadducees describe sounds like a black widow spider.

There were seven brothers, the first of which married and died childless (verse 29). The second and the third brother married the woman in sequence and also died childless, along with the remaining brothers (verses 30, 31). Then the woman died (verse 32).

The Sadducees asked Jesus whose wife the woman will be at the resurrection if all seven brothers married her (verse 33).

They knew the Pharisees had a view on this, too, as MacArthur tells us:

How many times had they posed that question before?  How many jokes had they made out of the absurdity of resurrection using this kind of illustration or analogy?  The Pharisees were the ones who said the next life will be just like this life.  Same person, same features, same clothes, same weakness and strengths, same relationships.  Are you kidding?  And there were some, like Maimonides, who actually said children will be born after the resurrection He’s the original Mormon.  That’s not new.

Jesus replied succinctly, saying that those who belong in this age — live on earth — marry and are given in marriage (verse 34).

Henry says that marriage is an institution that reins us in from sin and gives us a structure in which to raise children:

The children of men in this world marry, and are given in marriage, hyioi tou aionos toutouthe children of this age, this generation, both good and bad, marry themselves and give their children in marriage. Much of our business in this world is to raise and build up families, and to provide for them. Much of our pleasure in this world is in our relations, our wives and children; nature inclines to it. Marriage is instituted for the comfort of human life, here in this state where we carry bodies about with us. It is likewise a remedy against fornication, that natural desires might not become brutal, but be under direction and control. The children of this world are dying and going off the stage, and therefore they marry and give their children in marriage, that they may furnish the world of mankind with needful recruits, that as one generation passeth away another may come, and that they may have some of their own offspring to leave the fruit of their labours to, especially that the chosen of God in future ages may be introduced, for it is a godly seed that is sought by marriage (Mal 2 15), a seed to serve the Lord, that shall be a generation to him.

MacArthur gives us a bit of Matthew’s account of this question, which includes a response from Jesus that Luke does not include:

Matthew 22, which is the parallel passage giving the same account, adds this, Matthew 22:29, “Jesus answered and said to them – listen to this “ ‘ – You are mistaken, not understanding the scriptures or the power of God.’  

He was telling them that, as the high priests, their knowledge of Scripture was woefully deficient:

Wow.  If you think it was painful for Him to go in with a whip and clean out their business, how painful was it for them to take that shot at their theology?  They prided themselves at being interpreters of Scripture.  You are mistaken, from the verb plana meaning “to cause to wander, to lead astray.”  Means “you have caused yourselves to wander.  You have led yourselves astray.  You are cut loose from the truth and from reality.  You don’t get it.”  Why?  “Because you do not understand the Scriptures.”  What an indictment that is …

Not understanding the Scriptures, you couldn’t have said anything more painful for them to hear than that You are ignorant interpreters of Scripture.  You’ve gotten it wrong.  You have misled yourselves.  You have wandered from the truth.  You do not understand the Scriptures.  And that could describe every false teacher ever.

They prided themselves on the knowledge of the Scripture.  They didn’t have it.  And then “you do not understand the Scriptures – ” He says “ – nor the power of God.”  Had they known the Scriptures, had they really known the Scriptures, they would have known that God promises resurrection.  Had they known the power of God, they would have understood that God can raise people in a state where all their supposed absurdities are absent.  They were spiritually blind.

And so, He’s going to tell them the truth.  Verse 34, “Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.’ ”  “Sons of this age.”  That’s a Hebraism for “people living in this world,” us, temporal humans.  What is Jesus saying?  The matter of marriage, sex, reproduction, childbirth, and everything accompanying it is for this life, not the next.  It’s for this life, not the next.  There is for this age marrying and giving in marriage.  That is a part of this age.

Mormons take note, you will not spend forever on your own planet having celestial sex and producing supernatural children.  Muslims take note, you will not be on green pillows having sex with 72 virgins either in the life to come.  Marriage is for this life only.

Jesus went on to tell the Sadducees that those who are worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection neither marry or are given in marriage (verse 35).

He was talking about the life to come.

Henry says:

Note, There are more worlds than one; a present visible world, and a future invisible world; and it is the concern of every one of us to compare worlds, this world and that world, and give the preference in our thoughts and cares to that which deserves them.

With that in mind, MacArthur says that Jesus was warning the Sadducees about their spiritual inadequacy and blindness:

Notice that little phrase in verse 35, “who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection of the dead.”  That poses the question, why does He say that?  I think it’s a warning.  I think it’s a direct warning to the Sadducees.  In effect it’s saying to them, implying to them, “You obviously aren’t worthy to attain to this since you don’t even believe in this.”  It’s a warning.  “You don’t even believe in angels, sons of God, sons of the resurrection, that age to come, the resurrection from the dead.  You reject all of that.  Obviously, you’re not worthy.”

On the other hand, how would one be considered worthy to enter heaven?  How is one considered worthy to become a son of God, a son of resurrection?  Answer, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Bible is clear about that.  We don’t have any worthiness of ourselves.  All our righteousness is filthy rags.  The Old Testament was clear on that.  Isaiah said that.

Henry explains the life to come, saying that, as there will be no more death, there is no longer a need for marriage and procreation:

(1.) Who shall be the inhabitants of that world: They that shall be accounted worthy to obtain it, that is, that are interested in Christ’s merit, who purchased it for us, and have a holy meetness for it wrought in them by the Spirit, whose business it is to prepare us for it. They have not a legal worthiness, upon account of any thing in them or done by them, but an evangelical worthiness, upon account of the inestimable price which Christ paid for the redemption of the purchased possession. It is a worthiness imputed by which we are glorified, as well as righteousness imputed by which we are justified; kataxiothentes, they are made agreeable to that world. The disagreeableness that there is in the corrupt nature is taken away, and the dispositions of the soul are by the grace of God conformed to that state. They are by grace made and counted worthy to obtain that world; it intimates some difficulty in reaching after it, and danger of coming short. We must so run as that we may obtain. They shall obtain the resurrection from the dead, that is, the blessed resurrection; for that of condemnation (as Christ calls it, John 5 29), is rather a resurrection to death, a second death, an eternal death, than from death.

(2.) What shall be the happy state of the inhabitants of that world we cannot express or conceive, 1 Cor 2 9. See what Christ here says of it. [1.] They neither marry nor are given in marriage. Those that have entered into the joy of their Lord are entirely taken up with that, and need not the joy of the bridegroom in his bride. The love in that world of love is all seraphic, and such as eclipses and loses the purest and most pleasing loves we entertain ourselves with in this world of sense. Where the body itself shall be a spiritual body, the delights of sense will all be banished; and where there is a perfection of holiness there is no occasion for marriage as a preservative from sin. Into the new Jerusalem there enters nothing that defiles. [2.] They cannot die any more; and this comes in as a reason why they do not marry. In this dying world there must be marriage, in order to the filling up of the vacancies made by death; but, where there are no burials, there is no need of weddings. This crowns the comfort of that world that there is no more death there, which sullies all the beauty, and damps all the comforts, of this world. Here death reigns, but thence it is for ever excluded.

Jesus continued, saying that those belonging to the next life cannot die again, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection (verse 36).

Henry and MacArthur cite the same Greek word used in that verse, isangeloi — angels’ peers.

MacArthur says:

“Rather they’re like angels.”  That’s a verb that Luke coins, isangeloi, “equal to angels,” used only here.  The angels were all created at one time, they don’t procreate and they don’t die Their number is fixed.  There’s no need for marriage because there’s no need for propagation.  There’s no need for replacement.  There’s no need for continuity in the race.  There’s also no need for that kind of union because having a relationship with God and Christ as our true bridegroom and having a perfect relationship with everybody else in the glory of heaven precludes the necessity of having any other lesser relationships.

Verse 36, “Because people don’t die anymore, they are equal to angels, they are sons of God.”  What does that mean?  They take on God’s life, God’s life, which is not sexual.  They take on God’s life, which is an eternal life.  They become sons of the resurrection.  Whenever you see in the Bible “son of, sons of this age, sons of God, sons of the resurrection,” and you’ll see that repeated throughout the gospels, it’s simply a way to identify the essential nature or essential defining quality of something

If you’re a son of Belial, the essential quality is satanic.  If you’re a son of God, the essential essence of life is divine.  If you’re a son of the resurrection, you possess resurrection life.  That’s the defining reality.  If you’re a son of this age, humanity is your defining reality.  If you’re a son of the age to come, eternality is the defining reality.

And so He says those who come to the age of resurrection will take on the character of angels who do not procreate, do not have those kinds of relationships, take on the character of sons of God, that is they will be the possessors of the pure fulfilling life of God.  And they will take on the character of resurrection, newness of life.  Marriage is not necessary.  Marriage does not define any aspect of life in the age to come.

And so our Lord corrects their theology.  If you want more about that, read 1 Corinthians 15, start at verse 35, read to the end of the chapter, where the Lord through the  apostle Paul gives us a look at the form of the resurrection body.  It will be a body like the glorious resurrection body of Jesus as it tells us in Philippians 3:21.

Henry says:

[3.] They are equal unto the angels. In the other evangelists it was said, They are as the angelsos angeloi, but here they are said to be equal to the angels, isangeloiangels’ peers; they have a glory and bliss no way inferior to that of the holy angels. They shall see the same sight, be employed in the same work, and share in the same joys, with the holy angels. Saints, when they come to heaven, shall be naturalized, and, though by nature strangers, yet, having obtained this freedom with a great sum, which Christ paid for them, they have in all respects equal privileges with them that were free-born, the angels that are the natives and aborigines of that country. They shall be companions with the angels, and converse with those blessed spirits that love them dearly, and with an innumerable company, to whom they are now come in faith, hope, and love. [4.] They are the children of God, and so they are as the angels, who are called the sons of God. In the inheritance of sons, the adoption of sons will be completed. Hence believers are said to wait for the adoption, even the redemption of the body, Rom 8 23. For till the body is redeemed from the grave the adoption is not completed. Now are we the sons of God, 1 John 3 2. We have the nature and disposition of sons, but that will not be perfected till we come to heaven. [5.] They are the children of the resurrection, that is, they are made capable of the employments and enjoyments of the future state; they are born to that world, belong to that family, had their education for it here, and shall there have their inheritance in it. They are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Note, God owns those only for his children that are the children of the resurrection, that are born from above, are allied to the world of spirits, and prepared for that world, the children of that family.

In the final two verses, Jesus pointed out where the Sadducees failed in their knowledge of Scripture.

He said that even Moses showed that the dead are raised to new life in the story of the burning bush, where the Lord said that He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (verse 37).

MacArthur explains that this is the real shot across the bow:

The main answer comes in verse 37 and it is a powerful answer.  Listen to this.  “But that the dead are raised,” in other words, let’s get back to the point.  Forget the marriage thing, we settled that.  “But that the dead are raised – ” which is the big issue here.  You say they’re not.  “Even Moses showed – ”  Wow, now He’s coming at them in their own zone, right?  In their own zone, because that’s the issue.  It’s not in Moses.  It can’t be so.  So He says, “Even Moses showed in – ” literally “ – in the bush – ” in the text about the bush, the passage about the bush, the burning bush, Exodus 3.

What?  In Exodus 3 Moses showed the truth of resurrection?  How did he do that?  Because it was there “where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  Well, what does that mean?  Well, I think the important thing for you to know is that when in Exodus 3:6 God said – listen to this – here’s a quote, “I am the God of Abraham.  I am the God of Isaac.  I am the God of Jacob.”  When He said that emphatically, and the I am is recorded in Matthew’s version of this, Matthew 22:32, I think it is.  When He said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” He did not say, “I was the God of Abraham.  I was the God of Isaac.  I was the God of Jacob.”  I am.  I am, and therefore they are.  Follow that?  A little bit of a careful exegesis of verb tenses.  He doesn’t say, “I was their God.”  He says, “I am their God.”  I am and they are, not I was and they were.

In Genesis 26:24, in Genesis 28:13, God calls Himself “the God of Abraham,” and Abraham is dead.  In Exodus 3:6, 15, 16, again in chapter 4, God calls Himself “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” and all three are dead.  So is God the God of dead people?  Verse 38, “Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”  From our perspective they’re dead.  From His perspective they’re – what? – they’re alive.  They all live to Him. 

The God who says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” isn’t establishing His glory on the basis that He’s worshiped by corpses.  That wouldn’t bring Him any honor.  Notice that each is singled out individually: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, emphasizing the personal reality of each Each is alive to God, in God’s presence, in relationship to God, though dead from a worldly view.

Jesus emphasised that reality by saying that God is not of the dead but of the living; to Him, all of them are alive (verse 38), meaning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

That also includes God’s chosen, those who are worthy of eternal life with Him in glory.

MacArthur says that if we are alive in Christ, we, too, will share that life to come:

“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.”  To God, all who are His are alive and in union with Him in His presence, just as the Old Testament says.  Death does not end one’s existence.  There is another life, an afterlife, a resurrection life, for those who belong to God in His presence.  “I am – ” said Jesus in John 11 “ – the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in Me though he die yet shall he live.”  We will live forever and if we belong to Christ, we will live forever in the presence of Christ and in the presence of God.

It is a pity that the Lectionary compilers did not include the next two verses in this reading, because they show that Jesus silenced the Sadducees in their folly. ‘Teachers of the law’ here refers to the scribes:

39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

MacArthur says that, in popular parlance, we could say that Jesus blew away their minds:

And that leads us to the last point, the astonishment of the crowd, the astonishment of the scribes, and I guess you could say the astonishment of the Sadducees.  “Some of the scribes answered and said, ‘Teacher, You’ve spoken well.’ ”  Scribes are the legal experts.  They were the theologians.  They were the ones who thought most carefully and deeply about Scripture.  They were wowed.  They were floored. 

This is an understatement, “You have spoken well.”  Matthew 22:33 says, “The multitudes heard and were astonished.”  The word “astonished” and there could be a number of words in the Greek, but the one that’s used in Matthew 22:33 is ekplss and one lexicon, I think, gives it a good spin.  This is what it essentially means.  “To strike out of one’s wits.”  It’s kind of an Old English approach.  We would say this:  To blow their minds.  That’s exactly what it means.  He blew their minds.  They were just astonished at the teaching of Jesus, astonished, amazed, astounded, marveling.

And the Sadducees?  They were done.  Verse 40, they didn’t have courage – the Greek verb is “to dare, or to presume.”  “They didn’t dare question Him any longer about anything.”  They gave it their best shot.  They were done.  They had been cleaned out economically and then they had been dismantled spiritually and theologically.  They’re done.  They disappear.

May all reading this have a blessed Sunday.

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