27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too.33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
There were 3 main classifications of religious leaders in Judea, during Jesus’ time. The Pharisees were the keepers of dogma and they were the holy rollers, always offended by others inability to keep the law, even though they often only kept the law when it benefited themselves. They were formed after the Maccabean revolt some 160 years or so earlier. The second group were the scribes. They transmitted and litigated the laws. They were also in charge of interpreting the laws in many cases. The third group was the Sadducees. They were formed much earlier than the Pharisees. They dated back to the days of Zadok the high priest. They were in charge of temple maintenance and priestly duties. Given their status in the post-exile world, the Sadducees gained great wealth and power, even after the Jews were overrun by the Greeks and Romans.
The Sadducees are relevant to this passage because they asked Jesus about the afterlife. One reason why they wanted to gain wealth was because they did not believe in the afterlife, like the Pharisees did. They believed whatever blessings they had on this earth was given to them by God and once they died that was the end. The Pharisees believed that sacrifice in this life would result in blessings in the next life. As a result, the early Pharisees were very pious and poor, much like the early Catholic monks.
But the trick question about the afterlife from the Sadducees to Jesus was hardly a difficult one. Jesus not only answered the question in a way that they were not expecting but he provided an answer that they had not previously thought of. This is why they left him alone after Jesus answered. It is here that the reader of the gospel of Luke should take notice of Jesus’ authority. He speaks with truth that most do not see coming. As a result, He is able to cause the Sadducees to reconsider their task. In fact, nearly every interaction Jesus had with the ruling elites He spoke truth to them that they were not prepared for. Some were angered but some saw the light.
We will encounter the same thing if we are speaking the truth of the gospel to people. We may anger some. We may offend others. But a certain amount will have their eyes and ears opened to receive the word of the gospel. This is the harvest that Jesus came for and sent His disciples out to reap. Do not grow weary in doing the work of preaching the truth, even in the face of tough opposition.