The Sadducees believed in neither angels nor in a future resurrection because they believed these were not mentioned in the Law of Moses. The Law, or the first five books of the Bible written by Moses, the Pentateuch, did not use the word ‘angel’ or ‘resurrection’; therefore, the Sadducees felt they were being more pure to scripture by not believing in these concepts. What is translated as ‘angel’ in our Bible has the meaning of ‘messenger.’
Also, these Jewish leaders prided themselves of their living their lives on the subtlety of scripture meaning. Jesus takes this element of their pride to show the fallacy of their thought process.
In Matthew, it tells us, “That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. ‘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. 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. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?’ Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry not be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’ When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”
This was sort of a one up to their subtlety. In a way, Jesus was saying that if you value subtlety of scripture so much and want to live by that so you can show how devoted you are, then you need to also study the spiritual aspects of the scriptures and not just the physical acts of obedience. Again, this angered these Jewish leaders rather than them admitting to their error.
However, this was consistent with many of Christ’s teachings, which were paradoxical. In Luke, Christ stated, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” At first glance, this requires a double-take, but with thought it makes sense. Christ is saying that if we want to do as we want in this current life without Him, we have no eternal life, but if we give up our life by trusting in Him for our life, then we will have eternal life to look forward to when this life is over.
In Mark, Christ stated, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Again, this sounds strange at first. However, Jesus is stating that our eternal greatness will be determined by how much we served others and were concerned about other’s eternal future.
Many of Jesus’ parables had paradoxical teachings. He told his disciples that “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables.” Again, this sounds strange. If he was trying to teach them why would Jesus say this? In other words, those that wanted to understand Jesus would be able to do so and would glean more and more from his teachings. However, those that were there for the food His miracles provided would receive no benefit and even that would be taken from them.
But how new were Jesus’ teachings? Paradoxical? Yes, with their current thinking but not if one really studied the prophets of
The psalmist Asaph stated, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old.” (Ps 78:2)
The prophet Samuel stated, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” (1Sa 15:22)
The prophet Joel stated, “Rend your heart and not your garments.” (Jl 2:13)
Therefore, Jesus was proclaiming similar concepts that previous prophets had proclaimed but still the Jewish leaders were not listening just as their forefathers had not listened previously. However, Jesus is perhaps more emphatic than past prophets because the ultimate choice was now before them. The one to whom the previous prophets spoke was now before them and so their last chance was now being presented to them.
How are we doing? Do we just take Biblical teaching just because that is what we have always heard? Or are we willing to open our minds to the center truth of what God’s Word is trying to tell us. Let’s study with prayer for God’s understand and a mind open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit and a desire to comprehend our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Was Jesus a Radical?
Spirit of the Law