Nov. 8,2007; The Series - Jesus, Unique & Unequaled Teacher
Focus Text: Matthew 16.22-29
Detractors with specific agendas frequently set traps for their “victims.” Such was certainly the case when the things noted in today’s focus text unfolded. “The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: ‘Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.’” (Matthew 22.23-28).
Step back three paces and consider the “complex question” His detractors posed. Consider this question from a human standpoint, disregarding the person of the man to whom the question was addressed. Also consider the fact that the querists did not believe in the resurrection and therefore were obviously posing what they thought had to be only a hypothetical question. So from a human standpoint, one would certainly think that they had the upper-hand, and that Jesus was soon to be disposed of as a viable religious threat to them. However, if that is what you think, think again!
Jesus’ response was swift and telling! Remember, the names of His detractors were probably household names among the Hebrews; they were religious leaders and part of the Temple Hierarchy; they were the spiritually elite. Listen to His response! “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22.29). His indictment was two-fold: 1) They did not know the scriptures, and 2) They did not know the power of God. In this installment and the next of this miniseries, we will focus our attention only on the first of these two charges, i.e., “You do not know the Scriptures.”
Certainly His detractors on this occasion knew of the scriptures, and they knew some of the content of the scriptures. After all, their question embodied the principles written in Deuteronomy 25.5-6, the Leverite Law. However, the charge of Jesus was not that they did not know of the scriptures or that they didn’t know any of the scriptures; it was far, far more telling. They knew of the scriptures, they knew some of what the scriptures said, but they didn’t know the Scriptures! This charge might be likened to a constitutional lawyer who battles for unjust causes based on racial or ethnic discrimination; he may quote the constitution, and he may give lip service to the constitution, but no one who KNOWS the constitution could possible defend such classic discrimination. Such misguided efforts “fly in the face” of all that for which the constitution stands!
We will conclude these thoughts in tomorrow’s message, but a couple of interim conclusions are needed. First, Jesus had a high regard for Scripture and for the weight of scripture in settling any religious argument/dispute. Secondly, Jesus “pulled no punches” when it came to opposing those who openly and maliciously opposed the truth of God! Believers ought to go and do likewise!
1. What particular belief distinguished the Sadducees from other Jewish groups?
2. What was the obvious intent of the Sadducees in asking this question?
3. Did the Sadducees know some of the sayings of scripture? Were they correct in observing that Moses said these things?
4. Did Jesus know that the Sadducees were malicious in their attacks? Do you think His response might have been different had He not known this about them? Why or why not?
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