It’s About the Resurrection
27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
Students of the Bible often say “The Pharisees and the Sadducees” in the same breath as if they are all a part of the same movement. For our reading today, we need to understand that while these two groups were both represented on the Sanhedrin (the Jewish Court, made up of Pharisees, Sadducees, and lawmakers), they had disparaging beliefs about many important theological topics. This text points out one of those important disagreements and Jesus makes their lack of understanding clear. This passage is also a fantastic opportunity for Jesus to teach the people about the pivotal Christian doctrine of The Resurrection.
Sadducees came from wealthy and privileged families in Jerusalem. Religiously they were completely devoted to the temple cult, but sociologically they were cut off from the rest of the people. Many of them were attracted to Hellenism. They were considered theological liberals because they denied the resurrection and the existence of angels. They held to the written code of the law, especially the Pentateuch. they were theologically opposed to the views of the Pharisees (scribes) regarding the oral law, doctrines such as the resurrection, and their stance toward the Greek and Roman culture.
Just, A. A., Jr. (1997). Luke 9:51–24:53 (p. 774). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead but the Sadducees did not. This Sadducee asks Jesus a ridiculous question that is based on Levitical law. It was indeed the case that Levitical law did allow for the widow of a deceased man to marry his brother in order to create an heir for the deceased man. Jesus doesn’t even address that question but goes to the heart of the matter which is the resurrection from the dead. In His answer to the question, Jesus brings up Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For Jesus, these patriarchs are all alive. They may have passed far this life, but currently reside in God’s presence. They have not simply disappeared into death, never to be seen again. They are awaiting the physical resurrection that will come with Jesus return.
This particular teaching takes place only just a few days before Jesus’ own resurrection from death, His ultimate victory for us! The resurrection is real and that is the point that Jesus decides to make over this crazy question. Jesus assures us in this passage that our own resurrection is real because His was real.