Hello, and welcome to the STC podcast. My name is Casey Strine, I’m a member of the STC staff, and I’m excited to be sharing a few of my reflections on the Gospel of Matthew with you this week.
This week we will be looking at chapters 22 and 23 of the Gospel according to Matthew. Today, we will look at Matthew 22, verses 23-33.
You may recall from yesterday that this week we’ll be looking at one long conversation that Jesus has with various groups. In this passage, a second group appears: the Sadducees. Like the Pharisees, who we saw yesterday, the Sadducees were a group of Jewish religious scholars who were very unsure about Jesus and his teaching. So, they decided to ask him a question they thought would cause him to trip up.
Today, instead of thinking about faith and politics, we’re looking at what things will be like after death. You see, the Sadducees didn’t believe what Jesus did: that there is life after death. So, they thought that they could confuse Jesus by devising a scenario in which life after death would cause someone to break God’s rules about marriage. The Sadducees focused on the smallest, tiniest details of theology because they wanted to prove they were right. It seems they might have been more interested in being correct than learning about God.
Jesus can answer their question—he is divine, so of course he knows all sorts of things about eternal life that mere humans do not. Indeed, Jesus shows them that if they read their own scriptures more carefully they could have worked this out themselves. Still, Jesus is not really interested in winning an argument over theological details; what he wants to do is help the Sadducees and the crowd listening to their conversation realise that God wants to be actively involved in their lives right now, not just in some distant time after they die.
The Sadducees remind me of an engaged couple that gets so worried about their wedding being perfect, that when the day comes they can’t even enjoy it. Spending hours and weeks working out every detail of menus, flowers, music, dresses, and photos, they forget to prepare to celebrate their relationship. They miss that the point of their wedding is to begin their life together, being there to help one another on a daily basis. Rather, they become so focused on flowers, cakes, music, and seating arrangements, they forget to enjoy the day with all their friends and family.
How might we have become so focused on the minutiae of something that we’ve forgotten to look for what God is doing in our lives? When was the last time we were so worried about the details of what was coming in the future that we forgot to ask what God was saying to us right now?
As followers of Jesus we can live fully for today because we know that our future lies secure in Jesus’ control. Let us be people who are aware of the future, but live in the present, knowing that God wants to be with us every day. God is God of the living—willing and able to get involved in all of the good in our lives, and willing to walk with us through all that is challenging. Right now. Today.
Jesus, help us to focus on You today. Grant us the ability to trust you with all the details of our future and to listen for Your voice in our lives today. We believe You want to speak with us. We want to hear from you. Amen.
READING: Matthew 22:23-33
That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?’
Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’
When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.