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Matthew 22:23-32: Seven Husbands

Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 30, 2012


Matthew 22:23-32 NLTse That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees–religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question: (24) “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.’ (25) Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. (26) But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them. (27) Last of all, the woman also died. (28) So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.” (29) Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. (30) 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. (31) “But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead–haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, (32) ‘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.”

 

Not long after the priests left, the Sadducees approached Jesus in the temple court. Everyone was wondering if the crafty Sadducees had a question more difficult to answer than the priest’s about paying tribute to Caesar. Jesus had answered them by saying, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

 

The Sadducees question began by quoting a law given to Moses. “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.” The question began with a point everyone agreed on. This was meant to win the trust and respect of the crowd. They continued, “Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow. But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them.” This made Peter think about the time he asked Jesus if he should forgive his brother seven times. He knew it had little to do with the Sadducees question, but it gave him the opportunity to consider how he had grown since that day. Now he could admit he asked the question to impress Jesus and the other disciples. Since that day he felt deep remorse for acting in such a shallow manner.

 

Peter thought about the question. He always thought the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection. He wondered if they posed such a question in an attempt to confuse Jesus. Were they attempting to enter into a debate about the resurrection? Were they suddenly going to change their stance on the subject to get Jesus to take both sides of the subject, or were they attempting to coax Jesus into taking the opposite view on their question? Peter thought they could be probing Jesus to find out if He supported their beliefs? Peter knew the Sadducees and Pharisees disagreed on the resurrection. Maybe they were finding out if they could recruit Jesus in their quest to convince the Pharisees there was no resurrection. Either that or they thought nothing of compromising their beliefs in an attempt to convince the people they were superior to Jesus. It soon became evident to Peter no matter what Jesus’ answer was, the Sadducees thought they had an opportunity to use it to their advantage.

 

Something bothered Peter about the question. Why did they use seven brothers in this scenario? Why not two? It would have been more believable if they would have asked which one was her husband if there were two, or three brothers, but why seven? Suddenly the idea hit Peter. He remembered how the priests scrambled for the money when Jesus over turned the tables. Profit is what their hearts are centered on. It suddenly made sense to Peter. The priests asked if it was right to pay tribute to Caesar. They despised paying taxes to the government, but every time they conducted a wedding they charged a fee. In this case the priests would be collecting seven times. They also charge a fee to grant a divorce. In between they don’t offer a thing. To Peter their service began to look like a business. What right did they have to complain about Roman tribute when they collect their form of tax claiming it is God’s will? Peter could not think of a single verse in the books of Moses where it says anything about charging money for services.

 

Just as Peter began to review his toughs, making a mental note of them so he would not forget a single detail, Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” This was a rather rash way of answering a sect who prided themselves on their interpretation of scripture. “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.”

 

Peter was not sure what the Sadducees believed, nor did he care to dwell on their beliefs. He had Jesus in front of him. He had learned to look at things like he had never imagined. He now saw an image of God he never before realized in his life, or bothered to give much thought to before he met Jesus, who truly changed his life. Peter wondered if the rest of the crowd could see how the Sadducees had mixed the beliefs of the world with the Word of God to formulate their question. The answer should have been evident to them. Of course things will be different in Heaven. No one would die in Heaven.

 

Peter also thought about Jesus’ answer. Would there be marriages in Heaven? He had always thought marriages last forever, there was no power in earth to break the love between a man and his wife. Then he thought about how the world arranged marriages. The words, “given in marriage,” rang in his ears. Some marriages were little more than fathers selling their daughters into slavery. Surely this will never be practiced in Heaven. As Peter thought about the perfect marriage his mind went over the details of the first marriage in Eden. God put Adam to sleep, removed one rib, created Eve, and brought her to Adam to be his helper in the garden. God brought Adam the perfect wife, created just for him.

 

As Peter thought about these things, he looked at the expression on Jesus’ face change, displaying the emotional pain in His heart. Jesus had little need to hide His feelings. He knew His time was drawing near. Jesus looked past the Sadducees to the priests standing on the opposite side of the courtyard. His heart went out to them. No human words are capable of describing the love Jesus had for them. He knew they wanted to serve Him, but they never knew Him. The question also made Jesus think of the marriage relationship, and how it symbolized the relationship between Him and the people He created. He looked from the priests back to the Sadducees as He prayed for the words to express His thoughts. As He waited, He found it difficult to arrange the deep love He had for them into words. His mind flashed over His life, ministry, and how He had been rejected by the ones He wanted to work with, to minister together for the salvation of the world. Jesus thought of the way Eve helped Adam with everything in the garden when it was new. Jesus remembered their first days together, how much they loved one another, and Him. That is all Jesus wanted from the priests and Sadducees, to work together in His Father’s vineyard. He wanted their love and cooperation. It broke His heart to see them so near, yet so far away. Their willingness to serve, mixed with their earthly desires blinded them. They could not see the everlasting, unconditional love only a few feet away. The love they could never find anywhere else.

 

Jesus eyes welled up. As He faught back the tears, He provided the final answer to their question. “But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead–haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘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.”

 

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