Matins Devotional: November 4, 2022
The Sadducees think that they have Jesus trapped by their logic puzzle which has its basis in the Law of Moses. They use the law to weave what they think is an unsolvable riddle. The riddle goes like this:
The law of Moses says that if a man dies childless then one of his brothers must marry his widow so that the man’s name might still live on. Well, let’s say this happens seven times. In the resurrection (which we don’t believe in), whose wife will the widow be?
It shows you a lot about how the Sadducees think. They think that the Law limits God. In essence, the law has become their idol—the graven image that represents what they think God is like. They don’t accept the doctrine of the resurrection because they don’t believe that God could ever set aside the law of Moses. By giving the law, he’s boxed himself in. The law, which brings death, must have the final word.
And yet, Jesus easily sidesteps their trap. He sets aside their legal logic and destroys their idol by pointing them to what preceded the law of Moses. He points them to God’s power—to God’s promise.
In invoking the covenant that God spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jesus wants to remind the Sadducees that God’s word is more than just the law. He wants to point them to the truth that every word of God is ultimately aimed at giving life. We see this clearly in the case of Abraham. Abraham knew the doctrine of the resurrection—the power of God’s word to bring life from death. Even when he didn’t understand the full picture, he held fast to the promises of God.
Just before he goes up on Mount Moriah with Isaac to fulfill God’s command to sacrifice his only son—he tells his servants that “the boy and I will come to you again.” Though Abraham could not see how God would accomplish Isaac’s deliverance, he nonetheless believed that God was able to raise him from the dead. He knew that death could not nullify the promises of God. He trusted that God’s Word would ultimately bring life from death. Abraham knew that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Likewise, as we walk through this vale of tears the devil tries to tempt us to believe that the law which brings death must have the final word. He wants to weaken our faith so that we imagine that our own death will be the end of everything. He wants to trap us in the logic of the law—to believe that God only intends to crush us under the heel of the law’s condemnation.
Therefore, because we are constantly tempted in this way, we must hold fast to the promises we have in God’s Word. You are baptized. You were buried. But not into your own death—which you justly deserve—but into Christ’s death. And just as Christ was raised through the power of God’s Word, so also in your baptism God resurrected you. God brought you up out of the waters as living man—a new creation. He freed you from the condemnation of the law. He marked you with his name. He sealed you with his Spirit. His Word declared you worthy of eternal life. His promises are irrevocable.
The law of Moses says you deserve to die. And it’s true. You are dust, and one day, to dust you will return. But even though the law threatens you with death, God’s promises do not lose their power. Through Christ, God has spoken a better word. You belong to him. And those who belong to him can never truly die. Because he is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. And because he lives, so will you.