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The Astonishing Teacher

Hebrew Scroll
Hebrew Scroll

Each and every word of Scripture counts. For The Bible is truly none other than the word of God.

Consider Jesus’ reply to the Sadducees concerning the truth of the resurrection in Matthew 22:23-33.

Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

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

But Jesus answered them, You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 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. And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

The Sadducees, who claimed there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit (Acts 23:8), attempted to vex Jesus by posing a question that they believed unanswerable. In the guise of asking Jesus an honest question, they began by citing the Biblical principle that when a man dies his brother had the duty to marry his widow and beget children on behalf of his brother. (Deuteronomy 25:5) After presenting a scenario in which seven brothers died successively after marrying the same woman, they asked, In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her. (Matthew 22:28) The Sadducees thought they had finally succeeded in proving Jesus wrong by creating an insurmountable problem that would make the resurrection of the dead a logical absurdity. In this scenario it would be unthinkable that a woman would have seven husbands in this or any life. What’s worse, each husband would have the right to call the woman his wife. In the minds of the Sadducees this proved that the resurrection of the dead must be a farce.

Amazingly, Jesus proved that the Sadducees were wrong on two points. You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29) Now, when it comes to having knowledge of the Scriptures a Sadducee was no slouch. However, what Jesus so cleverly proved, among other truths in these arguments, was that they didn’t really know scripture.

The Bible says that when the crowd heard Jesus’ teaching they were astonished. (Matthew 22:33) What’s so miraculous about Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees was that when he taught that the resurrection was clearly and convincingly taught in the Scriptures, Jesus didn’t attempt to prove it from one of the nearly express statements in Old Testament passages such as Psalm 16 or Isaiah 26. Instead, Jesus chose to cite the Exodus passage about the burning bush. (Exodus 3:6)

And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 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.

Jesus’ entire argument hinged on one word: am. God said I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, as opposed to I was. (Exodus 3:6) With this passage, Jesus concluded, God is not God of the dead, but of the living. (Matthew 22:32) When God had said these words to Moses the patriarchs had long since passed away. However, if God was currently the God of the patriarchs when he spoke to Moses and if God is not God of the dead, but of the living, then the patriarchs must still have been alive at that time and still alive today, even though they had died physically. There’s more: One could argue, while this certainly proves the immortality of the soul, there’s still the question of the immortality of the body. In Ryan M. McGraw’s essential work, By Good and Necessary Consequence he explains:

As William Hendriksen correctly remind us, The men with whom the immutable Jehovah established an everlasting covenant were Israelites, not Greeks. In contrast to the Greeks, who viewed the body as the prison-house of the soul from which the soul sought liberation, the Jewish people conceived of man as a unit consisting of body and soul. For this reason, redemption must take place in both body and soul, if it is to take place at all.

Truly the resurrection will take place and truly Jesus is the astonishing teacher. Because of the richness of this passage and its implications, there’s much more to be said. Every word counts.

But he answered, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

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Joshua Ambrose

Joshua Ambrose is a restless disciple of Christ and sometimes whimsical mischief-maker. When not writing about theology, he writes about philosophy, history, economics, finance and basically anything that involves being a good neighbor in a way that honors his Lord.

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