We are within a week of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection and, at this point, the Jewish leaders have declared all out war on Him. Their first strategy is to challenge His presumed authority in three different waves using three different interest groups. This week, we’ll be taking a look at the challenge that came from the Sadducees.
The Sadducees were the party that included the chief priests and had the greatest influence at the temple. They were the most wealthy, aristocratic and influential of all the sects. They were extremely conservative and only believed in the authority of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). They ignored oral law, traditions, and the regulations prescribed by the Pharisees. They even discounted the authority of the prophetic books of the Old Testament. Jesus and the Pharisees spoke of a resurrection from the dead, and as far as the Sadducees were concerned, this was not to be found in the Pentateuch. Such a belief, they thought, was from the imagination of man, not from God. Hoping to catch Jesus on this matter, they put His belief in the resurrection on trial by a question they assumed would show the absurdity of His belief. Jesus’ own authority hinged on His response.
The youth group of our past church took a video camera and went out onto the Boston Common asking adults, “Do you believe in life after death?” There were almost as many responses, and ideas about what that might look like, as there were interviewees. I don’t remember any of the responses matching up with what the Bible has to say on the topic. I imagine it was the same in Jesus’ day and that probably prejudiced the skepticism of the Sadducees.
Please take a few minutes to read this week’s passage and ponder the three questions we’ll be examining on Sunday morning at 9:00.
- Is there a resurrection from the dead?
- If so, what kind of resurrection?
- What difference does it make?