The Sadducees seem double-minded, a mix of scriptural conservatism and liberal living.
They proclaimed a literal interpretation of the written law with a rejection of the oral law. That separates them from the Pharisees who believed God gave Moses oral instructions for how to follow the written commandments. This is an important detail to understand about the Sadducees because it highlights how they read scripture.
While they held to a strict adherence to what was in the written law, they seemed to be more lenient with other parts of scripture. Their leniency kept them from knowing the power of God, according to Jesus.
When a group of Sadducees asked Jesus a question about resurrection, he challenged their rejection of the belief. They asked a question about what would happen to a woman in the afterlife who was remarried several times. Jesus never answered their question the way they thought he might.
Instead, he used the occasion to show that resurrection was in God’s mind throughout scripture. Now, resurrection isn’t mentioned in the Torah. Since the Sadducees overemphasized the written law, then, they didn’t believe resurrection to be real. The problem Jesus had with that was he saw God pointing to resurrection in the Torah.
He called to mind the story about Moses and the bush.
It’s there God told Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The idea is that those three men of God are still alive. God didn’t say, “I was their God,” as if they are no longer living with God.
What can this teach us today?
Clement of Rome, who was the fourth bishop of Rome in the first century, once said, “Day and night declare to us a resurrection.”
I take that as a reminder that resurrection is all around us. You can see it in the natural cycle of the seasons and daily life. The Sadducees missed the resurrection in a very common Bible story. They’d probably read that text hundreds of times. But they missed it. Like them, you and I don’t always see resurrection happening, even right before our eyes. Quite often, today is another workday, another day filled with stress and anxiety and a mountain-high list of things to do.
No wonder we miss the power of God. It’s there; it’s happening. We just miss it.
Maybe we’re too busy. Maybe we’re preoccupied. Of course, it could also be we haven’t learned how to see resurrection. Has your church taught you to see resurrection? How do you know? How does the resurrection of Jesus influence and guide who you are and who your church desires to be?
Today, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob know the power of God because they are alive with God. Today, may you know God’s power just as much as they do.