There’s a children’s song that humorously describes the Sadducees. It says, “I don’t wanna be a Sadducee, ’cause a Sadducee is ‘sad, you see?'”
Yes, I know, a very bad joke. 🙂
Nevertheless, they were a sad bunch of people because of one main thing. They had no hope for a resurrection. They thought this life was all we have. And because of that, it shaped the way they saw God, the way they saw life, and the way they saw scripture.
They didn’t understand that God’s power, nor his desire for a lasting relationship with us. They didn’t understand that life goes beyond the grave, and so they were more interested in the power and influence they had on earth, as well as their wealth. As a result of these things, it also affected the way they saw scripture. They only accepted the first five books of the Bible as scripture, and rejected everything else as divinely inspired.
They therefore came up to Jesus with a question that had apparently stumped the Pharisees who did believe in the resurrection of the dead. It was essentially an asinine question, although one technically possible. In Jewish culture, if a person’s brother died without having a son, they would have to marry that brother’s wife and have children through her so that their brother’s family line could continue.
So the Sadduccees asked Jesus if a man had 7 brothers, and this happened 6 times because the woman failed to have a son, whose wife would she be in the resurrection? Like I said, an asinine question, on the level of asking, “Can God make a rock so big that he can’t move it?”
Jesus answered the Sadducees,
You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:29-30)
Then he stuck the needle in using a passage from the book of Exodus that they had never really thought through (and most people don’t to this day). He said,
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. (Matthew 22:31-32)
In other words, God could have said, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” But he purposely said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even now, I am their God.”
Meaning, of course, that they were still alive, not dead, utterly destroying the Sadducees argument, using the only possible passage they would accept as scripture.
What does this mean for us? Let us not put God in a box that he has put himself in. In the Sadducees case, they had boxed him in as a God that could not raise the dead because they did not understand his power. And the reason they didn’t understand his power was because they did not understand scripture.
Let us not be like the Sadducees. Let us thoroughly study God’s word, and seek to understand it. And where it contradicts our ideas of God, let us not cast it aside as the Sadducees did. Rather, let it transform the way we think about God and cause us to draw closer to him.