Seeing the Herodians being embarrassed by Jesus’s stance on paying taxes to Caesar, the Sadducees stepped forward and tried to trap Jesus in His own words.
The Sadducees and Pharisees were both part of the Jewish Sanhedrin but were on opposing sides. However, when it came to capturing Jesus the Nazarene, they set aside their differences and worked together to bring down the common threat. They were united by satan because of their hatred for Christ’s message. The Sadducees followed the book of law (Torah – the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) and did not believe in God’s power of resurrection. That itself is the evidence of their flawed belief system as satan had blinded their eyes and blocked their minds from being able to realize that God, who by breathing life into the dust created mankind, would not be able to do the same with dry bones. They put forward absurd hypotheticals using Moses’s law, wherein a man must marry the widow of his bother to continue his lineage. They questioned that if the process was repeated six times, whose wife would she be in heaven out of her seven husbands.
If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to herDeuteronomy 25:5
The Sadducees were treating the woman in question as a property of the seven brothers when in fact, God created one man and one woman to unite and become one body known as Adam. God did not create a woman named Eve but created a man and a woman whom He called Adam, meaning mankind. In fact, the law of Moses that they were referring to was meant as a safety net for widows in the society, who were often shunned and left at the mercy of the temple priests.
Oftentimes we too read the scripture in the reverse order of what God had intended for us to understand. Sabbath as a law was created for mankind but we have become the slaves of our Sunday services rather than utilizing it for the purpose it was created, to come together and worship God. We read the scriptures, we don’t try to know the heart or intention of God but blindly follow the laws to attain righteousness. The Sadducees were using a law that was created to protect the marginalized of the society and turning it to trick Jesus into committing blasphemy (if He would speak against the Torah or Moses’s law).
You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.Matthew 22:29
Jesus rebuked them for asking such immature questions saying that they had no knowledge of the scriptures or the power of God. The purpose of resurrection is not to have a blessed retirement life in heaven with our spouse and children, rather we will all be like angels and our purpose will be to only worship God for every moment of the rest of our lives. God always introduced Himself as the God of the living and not of the dead and buried but still the Sadducees were unable to grasp His power of resurrection.
When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.Matthew 22:33
The Greatest Commandment
After the Sadducees were silenced, the Pharisees sought to confront Jesus on what He believed was the greatest commandment. Will He choose one of the Ten Commandments or an obscure one, hidden in the book of law. The Pharisees were trying to shame Jesus in front of His followers by trying to prove that He was not well versed with the scriptures. But in doing so they unintentionally brought out the commandments that are the foundation on which all others laws and commandments are based.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.Dueternomy 6:5
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.Leviticus 19:18
The Israelites were taught to hate their surrounding territories but Jesus flipped the script on that too when He sent His followers to the ends of the earth and invited everyone to His Father’s banquet. Seeing their confrontational mood, Jesus posed a question of His own to the Pharisees.
“What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”Matthew 22:42
Their purpose was to trap Jesus but Jesus came with the purpose of introducing or reintroducing God to everyone, those who loved Him and even those who hated Him. The questioning session that the Pharisees and the Sadducees had been using to unmask Jesus before His followers was now turned into Jesus revealing the identity of the Messiah or at least a part of it to the Jewish leaders.
“The son of David,” they replied.
He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?”Matthew 22:42-45
By quoting king David’s own psalm, He made the doubters and the onlookers question the status of the Messiah. He is simply not another warrior from the clan of David but someone much greater than their beloved king. Jesus the Messiah was standing in front of these scholars and rather than bowing in reverence, the Pharisees and the Sadducees were trying to one up each other in their efforts to shame the king of the Jews.
- Who are the Sadducees?
- What was wrong with the hypothetical example that the Sadducees put forward?
- Why did the Pharisees want to know which is the greatest commandment?
- Why is Jesus asking about the Messiah to the ‘experts’ of the law?