Hope and Resurrection
Matthew Lesson #132
August 21, 2016
“Our Father, You have given us Your Word. It is a remarkable thing that we have in front of us: that we have this Book that has been written over a period of 2,000 years and recorded and transmitted and preserved, that we can have confidence in it, that we can trust it, and that it is central to our spiritual lives.
We are to read it, we are to study it and we are to know it—we are to commit it to the depths of the memories of our souls—that we might use it in times of our lives in every situation, every detail.
That we may learn to think Your thoughts after You: as the psalmist said, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”
As Jesus prayed, it is Your Word that is truth, and it is Your Word that sanctifies us.
Father, as we study this morning, may we be reminded of the many truths in Your Word that strengthen us and give us hope from day to day.
We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 22. We’re continuing our study of this period of confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders in Israel.
I think it’s extremely important for us, as we look at this, to understand the context, to understand that this isn’t one of those passages that is going to make us feel all warm and fuzzy.
It’s not one of these passages that’s going to focus our attention upon the Cross. It is a series of encounters with one of the most insidious and evil groups of people ever to populate the planet.
Most people don’t want to think about the religious leaders of Israel in quite those stark terms, but that’s how Jesus refers to them. He calls them evil and wicked and uses a number of extremely harsh adjectives to describe the depths of their depravity.
Because whenever someone is teaching something, the end result of which will lead to the eternal destruction of those who follow them: what could be more evil than that?
That is what we find in the basis of this confrontation. As a result of this, we’re seeing this build-up of intense opposition to Jesus through the series of parables and questions as we go through this particular section.
The focus of this particular encounter in Matthew 22:23–33 though, is on resurrection. Whenever we talk about resurrection and the truth of resurrection, this is something that does indeed give us hope.
Just by way of review, starting in Matthew 21:28, which is the second day that Jesus is in Jerusalem after His triumphal entry, He teaches three parables.
These parables are interconnected and interrelated, and as He teaches those parables, He is announcing judgment on the religious leaders, which they understand very clearly.
Each of these parables develops a subtle answer to the question they had asked Jesus, Matthew 21:23, “By what authority do You do these things” and perform these miracles? He is answering that.
Each of these parables involves a father, a son or sons, and the rejection of the father’s authority. Then each parable is addressed to the unsaved and their judgment. These unsaved nonreligious leaders, not the multitude. He is announcing judgment on them, and they understand this.
Each one builds the case for God’s rejection of the religious leaders of Israel, even as they are rejecting His Son. He is going to announce judgment on them.
As we have read, they know that He’s talking about them, but they fear the multitude. They know that He is condemning them, and they are reacting in anger and in resentment.
Those three parables from Matthew 21:28–22:22 were then followed by these three questions from Matthew 22:15. They asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” We looked at that the last two weeks.
They’re trying to create a question that puts Jesus on the hot seat so that if they frame it the right way: if He answers one way He’s in trouble, if He answers it the other way, He is also in trouble.
One of the lessons we should learn from that is that not every question that someone asks us, as we were talking about spiritual things or the gospel, is necessary to answer because sometimes we get caught in that trap.
Somebody says, “Well, have you quit beating your wife yet?” And if you answer, “Yes,” then you’re admitting that you’ve been beating her. If you answer, “No,” then you’re saying you still beat her.
So the issue sometimes is to say, “Well, let’s rephrase the question. Let’s talk about what’s really going on.” But Jesus is remarkably sophisticated in how He answers: where He creates a new structure for the question in His answers.
I talked about their reaction, and it’s important for us to understand that what we see here in the intensification of their opposition to Jesus, is a building up of this hostility.
It is a deep, profound hostility to Jesus and to the truth. The more He answers and turns the tables on them, the more intense their opposition becomes.
What we see in terms of this—I just want to review the verses that have pointed this out—at the end of Matthew 21:45–46.
“Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived”—they knew; that’s the word there, they knew—“that He was speaking about them.” This isn’t just some general thing He has said, but they know that the point is directed at them.
“And when they sought to lay hands on Him”—that implies that they have a plan and they have an agenda—“they feared the multitudes because they took Him for a prophet.”
I want you to think a minute about who these Pharisees and chief priests are. If you looked at them, and you didn’t know anything that was going on, you would think that they were fairly good people.
They’re very religious; they’re very active in their religion. They are going to the temple on a regular basis, they are profoundly involved in the practice: the chief priests in the practice and carrying out of all the rituals in the temple.
The Pharisees are teaching the people, and in that culture, the Pharisees were the most biblically-centered—the most Torah-centered—the most righteous looking, the most moral-looking group in the culture.
They looked good; they had good arguments for their positions. You would not think of them at all as being evil.
We have similar kinds of people in our culture. We have people in our world today that seem to want good things. They seem to have good arguments sometimes for what they want, and they have political agendas.
But we have to understand that then, as now, the real agenda is not always evident to people. It is not out front; they cloak it in deception; they use good-sounding words.
In our culture where we have all sorts of sophisticated communication skills, the politicians are especially adept at saying things and knowing what people want to hear, and saying it in a way that makes it sound acceptable and sound good.
You hear other people who are critical of some things, and you think, “Well, how could they be critical of doing—whatever that policy is—because it sounds so helpful and so compassionate and so loving?”
So it calls for a level of discernment to understand what is going on.
What we see in the Scriptures is that God the Holy Spirit is exposing the internal motivation of the thinking of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the others involved.
In Matthew 22:15 after Jesus gives his third parable, the Pharisees get together to conspire and to plot how they can entangle Jesus. “Someone comes to them”—in the basics of the Greek grammar—is that they received a plot.
They were already thinking about how they could kill Jesus. That had been going on for at least seven or eight months—depending on when the Matthew 12 episode is placed in your chronology—but their desire is to kill Jesus.
How moral is a group of people whose ultimate desire is to take their enemies and have them murdered or executed?
If you listen carefully to the dialogue that’s going on in our political culture today, you will discover that there are those, especially on the left, who continue to talk about infringing the freedoms of those on the right who disagree with them.
There are attempts to stifle anyone who disagrees with them on any number of issues.
There are attempts to float legislation—it doesn’t get very far at this time—to somehow punish those who disagree on issues from global warming and environmentalism to issues related to sexual identity and gender identification, gender confusion: all of these different things.
Basically what they want to do is to completely do away with the First Amendment because this kind of speech in their view is dangerous, because it’s dangerous to their agenda.
Ultimately, they want to get rid of any kind of opposition and shut it down even to the point of imprisonment. I have read of some who’ve said that they want to imprison anyone who does not agree with their global warming agenda. And that’s just one aspect.
I want to draw this kind of parallel because when we start seeing people react this way, then we need to think a little more deeply about what’s really going on beneath the surface in terms of these policies and these philosophies.
In Mark 3:6, Mark states the same thing a little more intensely. He says, “Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
The question we should ask is what is it that generates this kind of anger and resentment and hostility?
Jesus goes right to the heart of the issue in Matthew 22:18. We’re told that “Jesus perceived their wickedness”—their evil.
These moral, religious leaders—these outstanding examples of Torah obedience—are identified by the Scripture as being evil. It is the mask of human good that is worn by those who are intensely antagonistic to the plan of God and the Word of God.
We see examples—like in Romans 1:18–19—in talking about in a broad sweeping overview of history. The apostle Paul is talking about how God’s judgment in time works its way out, and he calls that the “wrath of God.”
He says, “For the wrath of God is revealed”— that present tense is showing continuing action—“the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”.
See this is the basic orientation of the human mind. The fallen, carnal human mind is in opposition to truth.
Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” Jesus identifies the Word of God: in His High Priestly prayer to the Lord, He says, John 17:17, “Sanctify them in truth, Thy word is truth.”
What people in their carnal fallen state have in the depths of their soul is an agenda to suppress the truth of God, to suppress the living Word of God, and to suppress the written Word of God: they despise it.
What has happened in our culture over the last 15 or 20 years as we have gone further and further down the road to moral relativism, as we’ve gone further and further down the road of licentious living and accepting just about anybody’s lifestyle, what we see is the people who have been in the shadows suppressing the truth are coming out of the shadows.
They are becoming more and more open, and they’re networking. They’re coming to understand that as they advance their agenda, that they have a certain political power base that has really coalesced in the last seven or eight years in Congress.
Decisions have been made in the courts by various justices that have legitimized their positions, and as they become more and more legitimate, they become more and more outspoken in what their agenda is.
Take for example the LGBTQ movement. A lot of people may think, well, you know, they may have a point: there are certain rights that you have. Homosexual couples—they been living together a long time, and they’ve been sharing their income and everything—that they should have certain rights. This makes sense: that if one of them becomes ill and is in the hospital, their health needs and health issues should be communicated with their partner. This makes sense for financial benefits.
This is the starting point of this kind of argument. But if you think that that’s all they want, that’s only the first step. That legitimizes it, and they operate on this view of incrementalism.
It’s like boiling a frog in the pot. If you put a frog in a pot of hot water, he’ll jump out, but if you put a frog in cold water in the pot and gradually increase the heat increment by increment, you’ll boil the frog to death.
That’s their agenda and their process and their methodology. Because, mark my words, the goal of the LGBTQ community is first of all, to be able to get out of the closet, and secondly to stuff the Christians into the closet.
They want to tear down the Bible because the Bible says that what they are doing is a sin.
We understand that the Bible doesn’t single out homosexuality as some super sin. It is one of numerous sins that are listed in a number of sin lists that we find in Scripture. Sin lists that include things such as gossip and slander; things that are more extreme; like murder, but also divisiveness, enmity.
So it is another sin of many sins along with immoralities: sexual immorality, adultery; these are classified in that same group of sins as homosexuality.
We don’t take it and try to make it some super sin. It looks that way because that’s the point at which the fortress is being attacked.
So when it’s coming at that particular sin, it looks like that’s what we’re focusing on. But that’s only because that’s where the attack is.
If they were trying to legitimize slander or gossip or defaming somebody’s character—libel, something like that—then we would have to fight that as well.
Because we understand that to legitimize sin of any kind is destructive to the whole society and the whole culture, that there has to be an ultimate standard of what is right and what is wrong.
The point that I’m making this morning is that we have to understand that when truth is at stake, that it exposes the agenda of those who are truth suppressors, that what they want to do is annihilate the source of truth.
That’s what’s happening with these religious leaders. These are not the rebellious licentious crowd; these are the good people, these are the moral people, these are the ones who look good, and their idea is to destroy Jesus.
They want to kill Him. Jesus hasn’t done anything wrong but He has exposed the hypocrisy of their teaching, and so they wish to kill Him.
Today we live in a world that has been dominated for too many decades by the encroaching philosophy that is sometimes called liberalism, but more accurately, it’s called progressivism.
Progressivism is built on a presupposition that human beings are basically good. The reality is, the Bible teaches that people are basically evil, and they need to have authority and a government that restrains evil.
That is why God initiated government, as we’ve studied. The fourth divine institution is to restrain evil and in the case of criminality, to punish evil.
Within the worldview of progressivism, we have deeply held convictions about the nature of man. Because they believe that man is basically good, they have to reject anything and everything that comes out of a biblical worldview, which is grounded in a specific creation story in Genesis 1 that speaks about the origin of evil that corrupts the human race.
They have to reject that; they have to come up with an alternative theory of origins, so they are committed to evolutionism.
They are ultimately committed to globalism because this was the attempt after the Noahic flood in order to bring unification to the world against God, and it was manifest at the Tower of Babel. God intervened, and He divided up the languages, so that men could not talk together.
But there’s always been this focus in the human heart—manifested in empire building in the ancient world and in the Middle Ages—and now it’s manifested through the doctrine of globalism.
Through computer languages and through trade and through many of these things, we find ourselves more and more being spoken about as a global community.
Those who hold to progressivism basically want to tear down borders, which is destructive to nations. But the Scripture clearly says that God has established the borders of the nations.
That is God’s purpose for man is to maintain national distinctions and national identities—they are anti-nationalism; they are globalists.
You see this when you see people of the upper echelons of the business elite that are trading internationally—and that is what’s good for their business—that they have more loyalty to globalism than they do to the country that made it possible for them to build and develop their business and their wealth.
They’re committed to the eradication of sexual or gender identity. After all, if there is no real Creator and the apparent sexual distinctions that we have physically are just the result of time plus chance, then why can’t we as human beings figure out a way to make that fluid, so that you can be whatever you want to be.
And you can identify with whatever gender you want to identify no matter what day of the week it might be.
Also, it comes down to climate change. We want to control the climate. What man has done is to elevate himself to the position of God. Once you remove God from being the Creator, then you’ve created a vacuum, and so something has to move into that vacuum.
The intellectual elites have developed these theories where man basically can control everything and redesign creation according to his own likeness.
At the very core of this is that opposition to truth. When you are denying truth, you have to create an alternative truth. You have to create an alternative explanation of everything, in order to promote your agenda.
What this leads to is a conflict that is manifest throughout our culture today. Many have spoken to the culture wars that are going on. These culture wars are ultimately grounded in people who are committed to radically opposing worldviews.
That’s what we see with Jesus in this opposition from the religious leaders. He is proclaiming that God is a God of grace and a God who will solve the sin problem through an alternative solution known as a sacrifice.
He will be the One who will be the fulfillment of that symbolism that’s been carried on through the Old Testament. He’s the one that will go to the Cross as the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world.
And the people are saved by grace because they can do nothing to save themselves. But that doesn’t bring and accumulate power to a religious elite.
Even in Christianity, you have those who are committed to legalism because it builds power in their frame of reference. Whatever their church or denomination might be, it builds power, it holds power, it holds the threat over people. So there’s always this conflict between grace and legalism.
This is what is happening here is that the chief priests and scribes who’ve come along and back in Matthew 21:15 and following, that you have the chief priests and the elders, the chief priest and the Pharisees, then the disciples and the Pharisees and Herodians in the previous question; and now we have the Sadducees who come to confront Jesus.
Again, it is still the same confrontation: it is the confrontation of human authority versus divine authority. They have rejected divine authority in the way they have constructed their view of the world.
The Sadducees were the religious liberals of their day, who still held to a form of morality, but they have denied the truth of the Scripture. They have also denied most of the Scripture.
The Pharisees, in contrast, were the religious conservatives of the day, but they too had also rejected the true meaning of Scripture and substituted their own meaning and interpretation on top of Scripture.
So we’ve gone from the Pharisees to the Sadducees and we’re told in Matthew22:23—this is following the question about paying taxes to Caesar—“The same day the Sadducees who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him.”
That’s an important detail because most readers later on wouldn’t be familiar with the somewhat esoteric philosophy and theology of the Sadducees.
They did not believe in a resurrection. We’re told this in passages such as Acts 23:8. This is a sophisticated situation where the apostle Paul has been brought up on charges that he is causing instability and division in the Jewish community, and he’s teaching that you shouldn’t obey the law and all these other things.
So he’s brought before the Sanhedrin, which is composed of the aristocrats, which were the Sadducees—most of them were the wealthy, the aristocrats, the elite in the culture—versus the Pharisees, most of whom were out of the working classes.
The Pharisees were taught to have a trade. This is why Paul, who says of himself that he’s a Pharisee of the Pharisees, is a tent maker.
This was true of anyone who was a Pharisee. They were taught to have a trade and a skill by which they could make a living.
The Sadducees were very different: they were the elite, the wealthy, the aristocracy. They had an interesting belief system, and part of that was that they denied resurrection.
They were materialists. They didn’t believe in angels or spirits, and they didn’t believe that there was life after death, whereas the Pharisees believed.
In the context, if you remember, Paul says that he is on trial for the hope and the resurrection of the gospel. As soon as he said that, they started bickering among themselves and entered into almost a riot and a brawl in the Sanhedrin, and he’s forgotten and ignored. So he used that against them.
We know a few other things about the Sadducees. We don’t know a lot because the Sadducees’ theology did not survive after the destruction of the temple.
It was Pharisaical theology that became encapsulated and sort of redefined, and today we see it more in the theology of Orthodox Judaism.
Flavius Josephus, who was a Jewish general, was captured by the Romans in the Jewish revolt, and then went over to their side and was later sponsored by the house of Flavius.
The Flavian emperors provided for him, and he wrote various works that are the only other source of real knowledge we have of the first century.
He says of the Sadducees, “But the Sadducees are those that compose the second order and take away faith entirely.” God really isn’t in control. They’re almost like Deists.
He says, “They suppose God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil; and they say that to act what is good or what is evil is at men’s own choice.”
They almost destroy the whole concept of a distinction between good or evil, “and so they say to everyone that they may act as they please. They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul and the punishment and rewards in Hades.”
It’s really nice if there’s no punishment or rewards. It really doesn’t matter whether you do good or evil today. They’re more the relativists of that generation.
In another place he says, “But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls die with the bodies; nor do they regard the observation of anything besides what the law enjoins them.”
What that means is that they didn’t accept anything beyond the Pentateuch—the Torah, the first five books of Moses. They have an abridged view of the Bible.
That’s important to understand here because when they raise this question about resurrection—which they don’t believe in—when Jesus answers them, He doesn’t go to passages in the Psalms or Daniel 12:2 that would affirm resurrection because they don’t accept those books of the Old Testament as authority.
The point is that Jesus understands the people to whom He is talking. When we’re witnessing to somebody, we need to understand what they believe, and we need to make sure we are tailoring our comments and our answers to their worldview.
We don’t compromise with their worldview, but we have to understand where they’re coming from. We have to think. We’re not creating issues that are really non-issues in a witnessing situation.
The Pharisees come along, and they set up a hypothetical. I don’t like hypotheticals. Some people come up with a hypothetical, and they’re basically talking about themselves or someone close to them, and they just don’t want to come out and say it’s something they’re facing.
But a lot of people, just for the sake of argument, will develop hypothetical situations, and most hypothetical situations only hypothetically happen. I doubt this would happen, but they’re creating this hypothetical situation, as if it were genuine.
Matthew 22:24, they say, “Well, Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.”
This sounds like a somewhat odd custom to us, but this was what was known as levirate marriage in the Old Testament. It’s encapsulated in the Mosaic Law, in Deuteronomy 25:5–10, but it was also a custom that preceded the Mosaic Law; this was an issue with one of Jacob’s sons.
“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go into her, take her as a wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.”
The point is to preserve the inheritance—the property that is owned by the family—so that it stays within the family and the inheritance goes on to the next generation. The Law goes on to say that “the firstborn son that she bears will succeed to the name of the dead brother.” He is brought up as the son of the brother who died, so that he inherits his property and the name of the brother who died is passed on; it is not lost to posterity.
There’s a provision there that “if the brother doesn’t want to take up this responsibility, then the brother’s wife goes to the gate of the elders”—that was the city council—and explains the situation, “that the brother will not perform that duty”.
“Then the elders of the city call him”—they’re going to explain the situation to make sure he understands how vital this is. This is part of divine institution #3—the family—as it’s preserved within the Mosaic Law.
“And if he still does not want to take her, then she comes in the presence of the elders, takes a sandal off her foot, spits in his face and says, ‘So shall it be to the man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ ”
He has violated the sanctity of the family. This is background to understanding what happens in Ruth.
There are two examples in Scripture: Judas’ son Onan refuses to be a levir—that is, a second husband when his brother dies—to take his wife Tamar, in Genesis 38:6–10.
This is the backdrop for understanding the book of Ruth. When Ruth’s husband dies and she’s a widow, then when she goes back with Naomi to Bethlehem, Boaz is a distant kinsman, and she goes to him.
Later on in the story in Ruth 3, he says, “Well, there’s one who’s closer,” and he goes to him, and we have this whole episode where he says no, and then eventually Boaz takes the responsibility and marries Ruth.
Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David, so that’s an important part of that line.
But the Sadducees are going to build this really extreme scenario. They say, “Okay, we had this man and his wife: he dies, he’s got seven brothers, so there are six more brothers. The first dies after he was married and has no offspring, so he left his wife to his brother. Likewise, the second, the third, even to the seventh.”
So she goes through the chain. The first son dies, and she marries a second son. No children. He dies. She goes to the third one. He dies. No children. She goes to the fourth one. He dies. No children. Goes to the fifth one, and on and on.
They come to the end; they’re going to ask the question. Most people look at this and go, “Well, I don’t know why they’re not taking this to the DA for little investigation. Sounds to me like we have a black widow on our hands.”
They asked the question, which is facetious for them, “Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be for they all had her?” They’re setting up this scenario that wouldn’t really exist, and they don’t even believe it themselves because they don’t believe in the resurrection.
Jesus in His tactful manner—I say that facetiously—Jesus did not go to the Dale Carnegie School of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He tells it straight.
He answered them and said, “You’re mistaken”, number one because you don’t know the Scriptures.
They’re like all the other religious leaders: the Pharisees and chief priests and scribes. They all believe that they know the Scriptures better than anyone else.
He just slaps them in the face, and says, “You don’t know the Scripture—you’re ignorant of the Scriptures.” That is not a tactful way to handle it, but it is from divine viewpoint at times.
Notice Jesus isn’t “in your face” like this with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. Jesus only gets this way when He’s dealing with those who are dead-set against Him, in opposition to Him, and who have thrown down the gauntlet.
They have already exposed their hostile stubbornness. He says, “First of all, you don’t know the Scriptures.” And secondly, “You don’t understand the power of God.”
They don’t have an adequate view of God’s omnipotence. They’re like many Christians today and nearly everybody outside the Christian sphere who don’t have an adequate understanding of God the Creator.
If God could take from the dust—from the dirt, from the chemicals of the soil—and mix it together and create a human body with all of the complexities that we have come to learn in the last 150 years related to the human body.
If God has the power to do this and then to breathe into the nostrils the breath of life, so that this comes alive, and it is a living, thinking human being with an immaterial soul and spirit, capable of thought, capable of inventiveness, capable of volition, capable of learning and growing and developing all kinds of things.
If God can do that, then why can’t God bring that dead person back to life again and give them a new body? When you start with a small God that you have restricted by your intellectual arrogance, then it’s very easy to construct a theory against Him,
So He says, first of all He’s going to address the issue related to the power of God.
In verse 30, He says, “For in the resurrection.” This phrase “in the resurrection” that they both used is a term that relates to the fact that in the future, there’s a judgment.
Daniel 12:2 doesn’t go into the distinctions of timing and other events that happen in the end times, just as there will be a resurrection of the good and the bad.
In the conservative theology of the Pharisees, the Jews understood that there was a future time when all would be resurrected from the grave, and then they would be judged. Some would go to life and some would go to condemnation: that is what is meant by the resurrection.
It’s interesting here in this confrontation to be reminded that the Pharisees had a completely different understanding. The Pharisees believed in resurrection, but this question that the Sadducees are asking Jesus is a question that they would often throw at the Pharisees.
It was always a debate between the Pharisees and Sadducees in intense arguments—that I pointed out from Acts—between the Pharisees and Sadducees over this.
The Sadducees had constructed this kind of a question as a trick question to win the debate with the Pharisees. The Pharisees didn’t have an answer for it, but Jesus has an answer for it.
He says, first of all, we have to understand that, “… in the resurrection”—those who are resurrected, in a resurrection body—will not marry and will not be given in marriage, “but they are like angels of God in heaven.”
The question always comes up when people who love each other who’ve been married 40, 50, 60 years, say, “Does that mean that when I’m in Heaven, I won’t be with my spouse?”
I want you to notice that the text doesn’t say that they neither love nor are loved. It’s talking about the divine institution of marriage. The divine institution of marriage was created for a specific purpose.
Part of that purpose involved protection of sexual activity, to keep it within the marriage, so that in procreation the children would be within the marriage where there is a father and a mother, and where those children would be reared in the context of the biblical concept of family.
The biblical concept of family is the training institution for the next generation. In the resurrection, there is not a need for those divine institutions.
Just as there will be no volition in Heaven, because once we are in Heaven, there is no longer going to be an opportunity to sin, we’ll be sinless. We can’t choose not to sin any more—that’s just in this life.
So divine institution #1 is out, divine institution #2 is out, divine institution #3 is out. These are not part of what the society in Heaven will be like. It’ll be a total transformation. They won’t marry or given in marriage.
Also, we should note that this phrase “to marry and given in marriage” was part of the language related to the initial coming together of a man and a wife in marriage and their sexual union, which begins that particular marriage.
So it indicates that sexuality in this sense—the physical sexuality—is not going to be part of our resurrection bodies. That need for procreation is not part of what it will be like in Heaven.
“They’re like angels of God in Heaven.” Some people raise the issue here and say, “Well, what about that incident back in Genesis 6 where the sons of God—if you take that term to mean angels, and I do—that sons of God took the daughters of men as their wives, and they had children?”
If angels don’t have sexuality, then how did they do that? Well, angels are created with an immaterial body. An immaterial body isn’t going to procreate.
Angels—and we know that they did from different examples in the Old Testament—the angels that accompanied the Lord to visit with Abraham …
Abraham fixed a feast for them. We’re told that they rested, they ate, they walked; they had all these functions. They didn’t look like angels. Abraham thought they were people. They’re described as men.
So angels apparently had the ability to transform their spiritual immaterial bodies into physical bodies, like a human being, that had all the properties, including apparently sexual ability of a human being, but they weren’t related to Adam.
What’s going on in that episode in Genesis 6—and I’ve got other studies related to that as it’s described in the book of Jude and also in 2 Peter 2—it’s very clear that these were angels who rebelled against God, and were seeking to destroy the genetic purity of the human race.
This isn’t about marriage or sex; this verse really doesn’t apply to that. Jesus says first of all, you forget that in Heaven things will be different than they are now.
Second, He says, “Concerning the resurrection of the dead.”
Now He’s challenging their understanding of Scripture. Remember, He said you’re ignorant of Scripture, number one, and you ignore the power of God. God is able to transform our physical, mortal bodies into our resurrection bodies that will be very different.
He talks about the Scripture, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying—and here He is going to quote from Exodus 3:6, where God is speaking to Moses and says—“I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Jesus makes the point, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
By the time of Moses, by the time God says this around 1450 BC, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have been dead for at least 300 or 400 years. But God is saying that He is still their God: He is the God of the living.
Exodus 3:6 gives us that original quote, “God is the God of the living”. It indicates that He is still a living God.
When you get into the Book of Hebrews, in Hebrews 11, describing the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we recognize that they understood that there was a promise that God had given them that ultimately would be fulfilled, and they never saw that promise.
God promised to give them the land of Canaan, but they never saw that. They never possessed that in their lifetime. The only piece of real estate they owned was the cave of Machpelah down in Hebron. That was it, and that’s where they were buried.
So Jesus gives this sophisticated answer, and we see the response. There are three responses.
First of all, there’s a response of the multitudes which Matthew 22:33 mentions, “And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”
They’re astonished at His teaching because He’s given an interpretation of the passage that no one has ever heard before. They’ve never thought of that before.
That that means they are still alive. They are not resurrected yet, but they are still alive. And we know from other passages that they were in Paradise at the time.
Second, there is a reaction from the Sadducees. Luke 20:40 says, “After that they dared not question him any anymore.”
They’ve been using this as a “gotcha” with the Pharisees for decades, and now they’ve been got back, and they don’t dare question Jesus anymore.
The third reaction probably was from the Pharisees. That the Pharisees were probably sitting in the corner going, “YEAH! That’s the answer! Jesus got ’em! Oh, yeah, we hate Jesus.”
Now behind this, we see the affirmation of resurrection. The resurrection is a reality, and it is our hope.
This is what Paul says in Acts 23:6. When he’s brought before the Sanhedrin, and he addresses them, he’s very smart. “He perceives that one part of them are Sadducees and the other part are Pharisees, he cried out in the council”—that word is SANHEDRIN—“men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged.”
He just threw that out there in the middle of the council, and they just started pouncing on it and fighting each other.
But He connects two important ideas: hope and resurrection. No matter what’s going on in this world, we can have hope because we know this world is temporary, that we are in a war today because we are in the midst of the angelic conflict as the overall cosmic conflict, but we are in a war that is not going well in our culture wars that are attacking us.
As 1 Timothy 2:1–2 says, we want to pray for our political leaders that we may live in peace and tranquility and carry out our God-given mandates.
But there’s a war going on, and the only way we can survive that war is to fight with the spiritual weapons of warfare that we have in Ephesians 6:10 and following, as well as 2 Corinthians.
We are involved in this spiritual warfare and our role is to learn the Word of God, so that we can tear down these fortresses of human viewpoint ideas.
At the root of this, the motivation is that we have a destiny: so much flows from this. In 1 Peter 1:3 Peter says that “His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection from the dead.”
As we’re studying on Thursday nights in 1 Peter, we see that that is the foundation for understanding how to handle all of the challenges and tests and fiery trials we face in this life.
Next time when we come back I will expand the doctrinal significance of what Jesus is teaching on resurrection here, to understand why that’s important in terms of our day-to-day Christian life and Christian walk.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word. Father, we want to be reminded that there is resurrection for those who believe in Jesus Christ.
He said that He is the resurrection and the life, and he who believes in Him will never die.
The key question for each of us is the same question He asked Martha in that interchange, “Do You believe this?”
The question is not what we have done. The question is not what sins have we committed. The question is not what responsibilities have we failed at.
The question is what do we believe about Jesus? Do we believe that He is the son of God who died on the Cross for our sins? If so, then the promise of Scripture is that we have eternal life, and that eternal life can never be taken from us.
We pray that if there is anyone here—or anyone listening—today, that if they have never trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior, that they would do so today: that they would believe that Jesus has died on the Cross for their sins.
That’s all that’s required of us. We can’t be good enough, we can’t go through enough ritual, we can’t buy our way into Heaven, we can only trust in Jesus who was the One who opened the door,
As He says, He is the door, He is the only way. He is the truth, and He is the life. And Jesus is the One who freely offers that salvation to each of us.
Father, we pray that You challenge us with what we studied today, that we may live in light of the hope of the resurrection, that despite whatever battles are raging around us, that we will have our focus on the light in the truth of Scripture.
We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.”