Jesus continues his criticism of the religious leaders, telling the parables to show their disobedience and rejection of God—the two sons (only one was obedient), ungrateful tenant farmers and a feast that only the poor ended up attending; He then talked about paying taxes and resurrection: Matthew 21:28–32; Mark 12:1–12; Matthew 21:33–46; Luke 20:9–19; Matthew 22:1–14; Mark 12:13–17; Matthew 22:15–22; Luke 20:20–26; Mark 12:18–27; Matthew 22:23–33; Luke 20:27–40
The Sadducees were as eager as the Pharisees to entrap Jesus with their questions. On top of that, it’s easy to imagine the Sadducees—a Jewish elite—thinking they saw their chance to gain the upper hand over the Pharisees. After all, Jesus had been telling off those legalistic, judgemental Pharisees for some time.
Now the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, leading to this self-contradictory question (how can they all meet in heaven if there is no resurrection?):
Mark 12:19-23 Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. So the second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. Then the third brother married her.This continued with all seven of them, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman also died.So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.
This could well have been their landing blow in most of their debates.
Jesus just pulled out the rug from under them:
Mark 12:24-27 Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.
So this idea of heaven being like earth, but more of it and longer, was not quite on the money. Heaven will be different.
But then a rebuke:
But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error.
What a rebuke:
- You don’t understand the scriptures you’re quoting.
- You don’t know the power of God.
- You’ve made a serious error.
This is the God who made a covenant with Abraham, then confirmed it with Isaac and confirmed it again with Jacob. Then, after some centuries, quoted that very covenant back to Moses to affirm who He was, and used the present tense (I AM), before sending Moses back to rescue God’s people from Egypt.
In speaking to Moses through a burning bush, God referred to these three people—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—as if they were alive. Now Jesus quoted the same covenant to show that the I AM had made an agreement with living people.