The reputation of orthodoxy is no security against error just as error of Sadduceeism that arises from not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God goes beyond ancient times. Sadduceeism in relation to superior intelligence is fashionable today as of old ‘through the concessions of ignorance to this affectation,’ just as Phariseeism boasts superior piety. It is not every question, debate or conversation that searches for the truth just as the question of the one bride and the seven brothers by the Sadducees to Jesus was not a search for the truth. The hypothetical situation of the Sadducees was based on their underlying assumption that resurrection of the dead was impossible. Beyond their knowledge of levirate marriage, the Sadducees’ riddle about resurrection and marriage was to trap Jesus. His Eminence Sunday Mbang, prelate emeritus, Methodist Church Nigeria (1984-2006), and a former president, World Methodist Council in one of his books, Christian Marriage, explained that Levirate marriage derived from the Latin word “Levir” means “a husband’s brother” (Deut 25:5-10). According to Mbang, unlike progressive marriage where ‘men and women change partners, the same way they change their dresses,’ levirate marriage ‘was designed to help continue and perpetuate the name of the deceased husband in Israel.’ Levirate marriage was also ‘meant to protect and also prevent the marriage of an Israel girl to a foreigner who was regarded as an outsider.’
The Sadducees’ context of seven brothers all marrying the same woman ‘was an effective way to question the doctrine of the resurrection.’ Times and people have not changed. John Calvin said, “Satan brings together all the ungodly, who in other respects differ widely from each other, to attack the truth of God.” Today, clever arguments against Jesus’ teachings and Bible in general are easy to find. Error of Sadduceeism in relation to marriage at the resurrection is a warning and clarion call to the church today to beware of the tricks of the Sadducees’ spirit in reference to clever arguments and assumptions in each of us contrary to God’s Word.
Every age has its Pharisees and Sadducees bearing in mind that hatred of the Gospel, unites Sadducee and Pharisee. The Sadducees’ in each of us today and in this age, just as among the first century Jewish sect stresses the power of our free will. The Sadducees’ question was to assure the people of their unorthodox and heretical beliefs. The Sadducees’ question was to find excuses for their unbelief by ‘conceiving of hypothetical situations that would disprove the existence of God or the authority of the Scriptures.’ The Sadducees’ hypocrisy is that, because they could not answer their questions, they convince themselves that there could not be a God or that the Bible must not be true.’
Among the distinctive of the Sadducees suggests that they ‘were the priestly aristocracy among the Jews by whom the political life of the people was largely controlled from the time of Alexander the Great onwards.’ They promote the secular interest of their people thereby showing their ‘apparent and undeniable hypocrisy.’ The Sadducees’ error invites us to be on guard against Sadducees’ arguments birthed not only from ignorance of the Scripture but also of the pride of life and lust of the flesh.
The Sadducees, in other to establish their theological position posed a question to Jesus in order to make themselves look good, caring, and loving. They were not expecting an answer because they just want to ‘demonstrate how “foolish” ideas of a resurrection from the dead are.’ The Sadducees only wanted an endorsement for their view about marriage and resurrection however, Jesus’ response exposed their ignorance and spirit of unbelief. Jesus said, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection” (Lk 20:34-36).
Beloved, beyond the Sadducees’ thoughts and arguments in terms of the present order, Jesus is saying that there is a future; this present order will pass away. The clever assumption and argument of the Sadducees is predicated on their ‘failure to discern the signs of times. The prophecies of Scripture were lost upon them. The events of providence were to them without significance. Their intelligence went no further than discerning the face of the sky.’ In their opposition to the truth of God’s Word, just as ‘Pilate and Herod became friends in their hostility to Christ, so did Pharisees and Sadducees sink their differences to oppose him.’ Error of Sadduceeism, subtle in its influence warns us against any form of non-existent arguments combine against the truth of God. Error of Sadduceeism cautions us against the hypocrisy of the Sadducee, the ‘pretense of a free and impartial search after truth…’
Resurrection is scriptural reality. This short life is not all there is. Using the words of Paul, we are saved ‘to attain to the resurrection from the dead’ (Phil 3:11). Do you have resurrection and eternity in your heart? God is calling us not to be like the Sadducees who believed only in this life – in what they could see and feel and experience at a rationalistic, material level. Are you like the Sadducees who did not know the Scriptures or the power of God? Remember, ‘money, sex, fame, and power, which are the focus of most lives in our day, will soon have no importance. Even our health is of no long-term importance. We will die, but when we are resurrected the old rules that governed our existence will be gone.’ Earthly relationships are limited by time, death, and sin. Do not allow the error of Sadduceeism that rules out an afterlife to reduce God’s plan to mere window dressing.