Luke 20:27-38

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The story of Jesus' controversy with the Sadducees regarding the resurrection is a conflict story. The telling of this story needs to reflect that. It has the tone of an adversarial debate. The level of conflict that is reflected in this story can be heard in the story of Paul's hearing before the council in Acts 23. I recommend that you look that up and read it. I'll give you a summary.

Paul was essentially on trial after he'd been arrested in the Temple. His first hearing took place when the Tribune brought him down to the Council to find out the exact charge. As they were condemning Paul after he insulted the high priest, he noticed that some in the Council were Sadducees while others were Pharisees. So he said, "I am a Pharisee and I'm on trial here because of my hope in the resurrection from the dead." Luke explains that Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection.

A big battle ensued. Certain scribes and Sadducees stood up and contended with the Pharisees. The dissension became violent and they were starting to hit each other. Anybody who's been involved in a church fight, either at major church conferences over some issue or in local churches, is familiar with the dynamics. However, the level of conflict that is present in our church fights today rarely leads to people hitting each other, though I have witnessed it. So Luke is relating serious conflict.

In Luke's telling of the resurrection controversy, Jesus doesn't ridicule or denounce the Sadducees as he does in Mark's telling of the story. Rather, Jesus' response has the tone of a teacher who is instructing the Sadducees about the character of the resurrection in theage to come. In the second part of his response, he meets them on their own exegetical grounds in his reinterpretation of the story of Moses and God at the burning bush. He interprets the Lord's saying—"I am the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob"—as a sign of the resurrection. Furthermore, he asserts that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had been raised from the dead. Jesus introduces a radically new exegesis of these foundational stories.

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