July 24

Text: Matthew 22:23, 24

On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him and questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'IF A MAN DIES, HAVING NO CHILDREN, HIS BROTHER AS NEXT OF KIN SHALL MARRY HIS WIFE, AND RAISE UP AN OFFSPRING TO HIS BROTHER.'”  (NASB)

This was “discredit Jesus day.”  It was “attack him through questions of the day”—use his answers to challenge his credibility.  The Pharisees tried and were defeated.  Now it was the Sadducees’ turn.  Since Sadducees were religious rivals of Pharisees, the Pharisees’ defeat did not discourage the Sadducees.  They recognized each other as devout Jews, but they often disagreed with each other’s conclusions.

A basic difference between the Sadducees and the Pharisees was a belief in the after-death existence.  The Sadducees believed all of God’s blessings occurred in physical life—there was no afterlife.  The Pharisees believed God also blessed the devout after death—there was existence after physical death.

The difference between the Pharisees’ question and the Sadducees’ question went beyond the subject matter.  The confrontations between the Pharisees and Jesus were continuous from Jesus’ early ministry.  The Sadducees do not seem to be old foes of Jesus.  However, Jesus invaded the Sadducees’ turf when he caused confusion in the temple area.  Whereas the Pharisees resorted to deception and flattery, the Sadducees used one of their best arguments against the concept of resurrection.

Their argument was based on an injunction in Deuteronomy 25:5-10.  Land was inheritance.  If a married man died without an heir, there was a potential break in the family/tribal system.  Therefore, a brother was to marry the deceased’s wife, and her first child was to be the heir of the deceased.  In that way the inheritance line of the deceased continued.

The Sadducees’ question was based on this serious responsibility.

To use biblical scripture to annul a biblical concept in order to establish a theological perspective is a deceitful use of the Bible.

Suggestion for reflection: What is the difference between using scripture to promote a personal view and searching for the meaning of scripture?  (Read Psalm 119:105-112.)

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