Having failed to trap Jesus in two waves of attack, they try a third time. This time, the Sadducees move forward and pose a rather twisted hypothetical that is fraught with more political danger than it is with theological danger. The Sadducees and Pharisees had been at each others’ throats for a long time over the subject of resurrection from the dead; the Sadducees did not accept any sort of resurrection while the Pharisees did. Might they be able to get Jesus to push the Pharisees over the top with a hypothetical question involving resurrection and marriage?
Oh it was terribly clever, and it left the Sadducees with a great deal of plausible deniability in case the people were outraged, and every politician likes plausible deniability. Oh yes, if Jesus’ answer so angers the Pharisees that they kill Him right then and there, that’s a good outcome for the Sadducees. If that angers the people and they rise against the Pharisees that would be even better…
The hypothetical is based on the tradition that if a man is married and dies childless, his brother will marry the widow and produce children for the dead brother. The Sadducees run a crazy hypothetical in which seven brothers end up being married to the same woman, each in his turn, and they all die before a child is born. In the resurrection, whose wife would that woman be? You see, they could comprehend a man having more than one wife, but a woman with multiple husbands was beyond even imagining, so I’m sure they thought they had Jesus in a corner.
“Never underestimate your opponent.”
In His answer, Jesus smashes their idea about there being no resurrection without even addressing it directly. In the resurrection, there will be no need for marriage or children; we will be “like the angels” in this respect. When the Kingdom comes in its fullness, there will be no further need for bearing and raising children, for it is the full number of the redeemed who ultimately enter the Kingdom when Jesus returns.
Jesus went on to show that there had already been a resurrection of sorts, for God had long ago described Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and our God is the God of the living, not of the dead.
There would be no further questions; they would need a new strategy.
However, Jesus wasn’t quite finished…