Matthew 22:23-33 (ESV)
23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
The Pharisees failed to break Jesus with their question about paying taxes to Caesar, so a different group came to test him. Sadducees were more liberal than the Pharisees. They didn’t believe in angels, resurrection from the dead, or any form of an afterlife. The Sadducees attempted to baffle Jesus with a question they were certain he would not be able to answer. They appealed to a teaching of Moses in which if a man died and had no children, his brother had to marry the widowed wife to carry on the name of the dead brother. The Sadducees asked in essence, “Suppose there were seven brothers who died one by one, and each one successively married the widow before he died. Then the widow died. Which one of the seven brothers would have her as his wife in the next life?” The Sadducees were confident they had Jesus stumped now! Jesus told these men who considered themselves the elite thinkers of the day that they didn’t know either the Scriptures or God’s power to bring people back to life (v. 29). In heaven, no one will be married. Once we have our glorified bodies, there will be no more death. No more death means no more need to reproduce and no more need for marriage. Jesus also used Moses as an example. Jesus quoted from when God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush and said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been dead for some time, but God spoke as if they were still alive, saying, “I am” and not “I was.” Jesus cleverly showed the Sadducees how God’s declaration proved the truth of an afterlife.
It may seem like only within the last hundred years or so that people have begun to deny any existence after death. Yet we read about the Sadducees, 2,000 years ago, arguing that death is the finality of man’s existence. Jesus himself confirmed that God is able to and will bring the dead to life again. The question isn’t “will we live forever?” but “where will we live forever.” Some will be resurrected to eternal life and some to eternal death. Let’s pray for our friends and family who, like the Sadducees, are still blind to the coming resurrection. This life is a vapor compared to eternity. Let’s choose today to make decisions consistent with a belief in the life to come.