The Sadducees are the liberals of that time. They only believe in what they can reason. Therefore they do not believe in the resurrection, nor in angels and spirits (Acts 23:88For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.). They are rationalists, as the Pharisees are traditionalists. The Sadducees come to the Lord with a question as insincere as that of the Pharisees and Herodians in the story before.
They approached Him with hypocritical respect by calling Him “Teacher.” And He is, but they do not recognize Him. Nor do they recognize the Word of God. They take a part of it, let their human and foolish reasoning loose on it, and then believe that they have shown their own right and God’s wrong.
They propose to the Lord a case they themselves invented of seven brothers who marry the same woman one after the other. They explain from their corrupt thinking how the situation develops in their invented example. They start with the first brother who marries the woman and dies without having offspring, leaving his wife to his brother. Here they do not violate the Word yet. That is how Moses said it. The same goes for the second who marries her, then dies and leaves his wife to his brother. All subsequent matrimonial bonds would also be in accordance with what Moses said. Finally, the woman dies. So far, there is nothing wrong with their representation of things, however nonsensical the story itself may be.
Then, in their folly, they come up with a question which, according to their darkened mind, proves the impossibility of the resurrection. They believe to have eliminated the Lord with this and have to have demonstrated the absurdity of the Word of God. In the certainty of their victory they triumphantly ask Him to which of the seven she will be a wife in the resurrection. After all, all of them have had her as wife in a perfectly legal way.
He Who knew exactly where they were going with their example, does interrupt them. He lets them finish and thus expose themselves completely. Then comes His answer! He does not spare them in it. He exposes the source of their error and folly. Scripture is often misquoted and always misunderstood by people who lean on their own understanding. Furthermore, by their reasoning they denied the power and glory of God, which places them in insurmountable difficulties in connection with God’s ways.
In His grace for us, the Lord declares how it will be in the resurrection. In the resurrection the situation is not the same as on earth. Those who rise up, will then be genderless like the angels, as there is already in Christ neither man nor woman (Gal 3:2828There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.). Often, false teachings are occasion for the Spirit of God to present the truth in all its brilliance and glory. They have quoted the Scriptures, now the Lord quotes the Scriptures. Have they read the following? Of course they have read it.
But He also says if they have read what has been spoken by God “to you”, that is to say to these Sadducees who stand here before Him. That has passed them by. They have their own explanation for Scripture and are therefore blind to the real explanation. It passes them by because they don’t know how to address it to themselves personally. They are only intellectually concerned with Scripture.
Yet the Lord makes an effort to enlighten their darkened minds. He points to the Scripture that speaks of God as the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (Exo 3:6,15-166He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.15God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.16Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.). He cites this Scripture to show that in the days of Moses the patriarchs lived in another world, although they were not yet raised from the dead. The fact that their spirits are there guarantees that at the end of time they will be in the kingdom with resurrected bodies.
The moment God says this, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have long since passed away. But God has given them His promises. Would He then no longer be able to fulfil them? Surely He will fulfil them, and in the resurrection. How different was the faith of Abraham from that of the Sadducees. He believed that God was able to raise even the dead (Heb 11:1818[it was he] to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.”).
By calling Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while they have already died, God says that He is still their God. This means that, for Him, they are alive. He is not connected with the dead, but with the living. In His answer, the Lord makes it clear that the resurrection brings us into another world, where different conditions apply. This teaching about the resurrection makes a big impression on the crowds.