Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jesus Uses The Sadducees’ and Pharisees’ Questions Against Them

Matthew 22:23-46

“The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.  And last of all the woman died also.  Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.” (Matthew 22:23-28)

The Sadducees had adopted the Greek philosophy and Jesus teaching was offensive to them as it was to the Pharisees.   Like a lot of Journalists and political figures who brag about asking the hard questions, they decided to ask a question such that any answer that is given makes the respondent look foolish because of the way it is worded. 

They referred to the law that if a man died childless, his brother was to marry his wife and their first child would be considered the dead husband’s.   If all seven brothers married her trying to fulfill the law, and died, which one’s wife would she be considered?  No matter what answer Jesus gave, they could challenge him that another of the brothers should be considered.  Instead of answering their question, Jesus pointed out that it was based on some incorrect assumptions.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29-32)

Because the Sadducees didn’t believe in God or spiritual matters, they didn’t read the scriptures and didn’t know that people would not be married in heaven in any case.  The entire question was based on their own ignorance.  Jesus then challenged their ignorance, asking if they had least read God’s statement about being the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.  The present imperfect tense used implies he is at this moment the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob even though all three had died.

Had he used the present perfect tense, it would have meant he was the God who had been Abraham’s, Isaac’s. And Jacob’s God but the form he used does not allow that translation.  It can only be used if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive.  Even their question placed them in a position of contradicting what they claimed to believe.

“And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.” (Matthew 22:33)

For years the Pharisees and Sadducees had been arguing about the existence of God and his power.  The multitude was amazed that Jesus could so simply show their ignorance using what the scripture said. 

“But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:34-36)

The Pharisees had apparently hoped to get Jesus discredited without having to get involved themselves.  After Jesus had left the Herodians with no argument and embarrassed the Sadducees, they had to get involved themselves.  They sent one of their best and brightest lawyers to try to trick him into saying something they could use against him.  Like the Sadducees before him, the lawyer tried to use a trick question, which is the most important of the commandments of the Law?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

The Lawyer was undoubtedly expecting Jesus to try to pick out an individual law.  Instead, Jesus lumped all the first commands about obeying God, and not making idols or worshipping other gods into one command to love God with everything you had.  He then said the second, about obeying god in other areas was similar in that they were to care for their neighbor as if he were themselves.   All the law could be summarized or condensed down to those two principles.    Like the Herodians and Sadducees, the Pharisees could not debate his answer without appearing foolish. 

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?

 They say unto him, The son of David.

“He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?  If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matthew 22:41-45)

Like he had done with the Herodians and Sadducees, Jesus now said something that would force them to think about what they were doing.   He asked them why, if the Messiah was a descendent of David, David called him Lord.  According to custom the ancestor would naturally be assumed to be greater.  It turned their whole social order upside down, and clearly challenged their claim to power. 

“And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:46)

Jesus had trapped them in the same kind of trap they had tried to set for them.  Any answer they gave was a potential victory for him.  They dared not answer, and were afraid to ask more questions for fear he would trap them again.

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