Sermon: He is Not God of the Dead, But of the Living Matthew 22:23-33

Truth Taught- Jesus teaches that the Resurrection is truth found in both Old and New Testaments

Today, we are going to look at a second question put forth from those religious elite to entrap Jesus in His words.  Just like last time, they would be astonished at His answer.  Last time it was the Pharisees who asked Jesus about whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar.  We learned that part of Roman practice was to worship Caesar as God and that was placed on the coin they used to pay the tax.  Jesus, replied that they should pay but that’s it, never worship Caesar.  Worship is rendered unto God alone.

Our current passage has the Sadducees trying to ensnare Jesus with yet another question.  In order to better understand what’s happening here, we need to understand a little more about who the Sadducees were.  They were the liberal theologians of the day.  They didn’t believe in anything supernatural, angels, or the resurrection of the dead.  One other thing that is relevant to the text today is that they only recognized the first five books of the Bible as Scripture…the Books of Moses.

They were like many of our modern so-called theologians who teach basically the same things or at least many of the same things.  

Theological Liberalism today denies the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures, Supernatural, Angels, Resurrection, Miracles of Jesus, and objective truth.

It’s a movement that interprets Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrinal authority.  

Liberal theology grew out of Enlightenment rationalism and romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was characterized by an acceptance of Darwinian evolution, a utilization of modern biblical criticism and participation in the Social Gospel movement.[5] This was also the period when liberal theology was most dominant within the Protestant churches.

The reality is that to deny the authority of Scripture, the works and miracles of Jesus is to be left with a very poor social institution which fails at everything it attempts and condemns its followers to hell.  All it’s left with are a worldly focus and works.  

Liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all.  The people who are its teachers are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The Sadducees were very much along this vein.  They pursued rewards in this life, to attain riches and power were among their great pursuits.  In order to achieve their goals, the people were sacrificed to their religious pursuits.  They had collaborated with Rome and Rome would surprisingly appoint a member of the Sadducees as the high priest each year.  

This, in a nut shell is a very good picture of the Sadducees during Jesus’ day. 
With this small bit of history concerning the Sadducees let’s look at our text for today…

As a side note, it was the Liberal Churches and leaders in Germany who sided with the Nazis in their goals.  They were more interested in wealth of Germany than in doctrinal truth and biblical ethics.  This is where liberalism always takes you.  Their path is a path of government sanctioned Christianity and they are willing to do anything that keeps them relevant and in step with culture.  The sad truth is all they become are inept and useless.

Church, be on guard.

Prayer

Matthew 22:23–33 (ESV) 

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. 

1.  The Sadducees and Their Theology of Death (22:23-26)

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died.

So, we must remember that these liberals of Judaism did not believe in the resurrection.  So their goal is to make Jesus look foolish and to prove that their views are seen as true.  Can they make Jesus and the resurrection look foolish?  That’s their goal. 
They approach Jesus with false respect, 24 saying, “Teacher…. They had no respect for Jesus and simply wanted to look good to the people.  They looked like they were showing Him respect but they were not. 

Their question is formulated from the Section of Scripture they accept as God’s Word.  Remember, they only accepted the Books of Moses.  Here’s a side note, when you encounter any religious group that rejects certain portions of Scripture or highlights certain portions over others or has their own book or has the Bible and their book then you have just run across a cult.  

Deuteronomy 25:5–6 (ESV) 

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 

So, to try to prove their view of the resurrection and to humiliate Jesus they formulate their question.  

If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died.

Notice their theology of death.  All seven brothers die and she is left a widow seven times with no children.  We understand this didn’t actually happen but was their way to ask a made-up question to trap Jesus. 
Have you ever noticed how sceptics and liberals always want to discuss fringe and exceptional circumstances?  Rather than seeing the Levirate Marriage as a wonderful provision of God to keep the widow cared for and to prolong the family name, they were all about focusing on death.  The Liberal focus is always on death because that’s the end of their beliefs.    

27 After them all, the woman died.

They end their scenario of death with the widow also dying.  Seven dead husbands and a dead widow.  

2.  The Snare is Set for Jesus (22:28)

28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 

Ok Jesus, we have shown from the Bible the Levirate Marriage that God prescribed now explain to us how this works in the afterlife.  This woman has had seven brothers as husbands and now they are all dead so, Jesus answer that questions for us?

So the Sadducees and the Pharisees got together and they said, “What do we do? For this man does many miracles. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Now you see the heat? They’re afraid that He’s going to start a revolution, He’s going to lead the whole of the people after Him, attracted by His miraculous power, Rome’s going to come in and a holocaust will result, which will affect the power, prestige, wealth, opportunity of the Sadducees. And one of them, named Caiaphas, who was a Sadducee and was the high priest, says He has to die. So verse John 11:53 says, “From that day forth, they took counsel together to put Him to death.”
So the Sadducees got in on the death plot with the Pharisees when they saw the potential for Jesus to bring about a revolution, which could mean Roman intervention, the holocaust of which could cause them to lose their careers or even their lives. And so they sought to kill Him. And then to add to that when on Tuesday He cleaned out their operation, they were only doubly angry and ready to take His life.

3.  God’s Theology of Life

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. 

The first thing Jesus tells them is not an answer but a statement… You are wrong

People do not like to be told they are wrong.  We live in a world where it seems, everyone is right and that there is not definite or objective truth.  Our Lord simply tells them they are wrong.

What is the reason for their errors in belief?

because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

They do not know the Bible.  Of course, in their case they didn’t know the OT.  Does the OT teach about the resurrection?

Isaiah 26:19 (ESV) 

19  Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. 

You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! 

For your dew is a dew of light, 

and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Job 19:25–27 (ESV) 

25  For I know that my Redeemer lives, 

and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 

26  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, 

yet in my flesh I shall see God, 

27  whom I shall see for myself, 

and my eyes shall behold, and not another. 

My heart faints within me!

Daniel 12:2 (ESV) 

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 

The OT not only teaches the immortality of the soul but that, in fact, our bodies will rise and be united to our souls.  This is all from the OT.  The problem was, the Sadducees did not accept Isaiah, Job or Daniel as being from God. 
Whenever someone argues a point about the Bible you don’t like just cut that part of the Bible out.  That’s what they did.
So, Jesus tells them they don’t know the Scriptures nor the power of God.  When you limit your Bible to just a few books, you limit what you can know about God.  God has the power to raise people from the dead.  

A.  No Marriage in Heaven

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Our Lord tells these liberals that in heaven we will be like the angels.  How will we be like angels?  Angels do not marry.  In heaven there will be no marriages except the marriage of Jesus to the Church. 

You see, their problem because they didn’t know the Bible was that they assumed that the afterlife would be like this life.  Because this woman had seven husbands here then which one will she be married to in the afterlife?  Jesus tells them that she won’t be married at all.  Because there is no marriage in heaven.

B.  As for the Resurrection…

31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

Here’s where Jesus leads them into their own snare.  Where does Jesus go to prove to them that there is a resurrection?  He takes them to Exodus…one of the Books they accept as Scripture.  

Exodus 3:6 (ESV) 

And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 

Jesus’ argument is that God can say in the present tense, I am the God of Abraham because Abraham is alive.  God is currently his God.  Jesus used the Scriptures correctly.  He read them the way they were intended to be read and He, of course, knew the Scriptures.  The only way God IS the God of Abraham currently is if Abraham is alive and the only way he is alive is if there is a resurrection from the dead because Scripture also records for us Abraham’s death.


Genesis 25:7–8 (ESV) 

These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 

Conclusion

This amazing text teaches us three main theological truths:

The Bible teaches us that God is powerful.  So powerful that He can and will renew all His creation.  He will raise us all from the dead and place us into His wonderful new world.  He will recreate all that we see; renew it into a place where sin will be no more.  Not only is God powerful but He loves His people and will raise us from the dead and place us in this wonderful place. 

Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV) 

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Second, Jesus told the Sadducees that their main problem was that they didn’t know the Bible
.  We must read the Bible and read it carefully.  We must notice things like present tense verbs which was Jesus’ entire argument.  Jesus read the Bible as it was meant to be read.  God’s Word teaches us that He is the God of the living not the dead.  Just like Abraham who is currently alive so to are our loved ones who died in the faith.  God is their God right now.  Because He is not the God of the dead but of the living.

Third, this text teaches about the New Heavens and the New Earth.  God will be with His people forever.  Many things in this life will not have a place in the recreated new world.  Our attention will be entirely fixed on Christ.  Jesus tells us we will be like the angels in that we will no long be married.  So, in heaven there will be no marriage.  

When the crowd in the temple heard Jesus’ answer to the trick question, they marveled…

33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. 

I’d like to ask you a question?  Are you ready for the resurrection?  Do you know Jesus Christ?

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