by Dr. Samuel Lee   11/18/1995     0 reads



Luke 20:20-47

Key Verse: 20:38

"He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him

  all are alive."

1. What was the purpose of those who came to question Jesus? Who sent

them? How did they flatter Jesus? What did they ask him? Why was

this question a trap?

2. What was Jesus' answer and how did it silence them? What do citizens

owe "Caesar"?  What do we owe God? (Dt 6:5; Mk 16:15)

3. How are the Sadducees described and what was the intent of their

question? What was the sad story they invented and what was their

question? What does this reveal about their thought world and their

philosophy of life? (27-33; 1Jn 2:15-17)

4. What truth did Jesus teach about the difference between this world

and heaven? What does it mean to be like angels? How does the

passage from Exodus (37; Ex 3) reveal that there is no death in the

living God?

5. What question did Jesus ask them to open their spiritual eyes? Who

is Jesus? What warning does he give those who hope only in this

world? (41-47)




Luke 20:20-47

Key Verse: 20:38

"He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him

  all are alive."

There are three questions in this passage. The first question to Jesus

was raised by the Jewish leaders about whether the Jews should pay

taxes to Caesar or not (20-26). The second question to Jesus was from

the Sadducees about "whose wife will she be" (27-40). The third

question was made by Jesus, about how a descendant of David, the

Christ, could be David's Lord and Christ. Today's passage is as it

could be. But through the religious leaders' questions and Jesus'

answers we learn several precious spiritual truths.

First, our obligation to Caesar and to God (20-26).

The religious leaders determined to trap Jesus so as to hand him

over to the power and au- thority of the Roman governor (20). They sent

spies, who pretended to be honest. They asked him, "Teacher, we know

that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show

partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it

right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

The Jews did not complain about the burden of this tax, for it was

less than $5.  Nevertheless, taxation was a boiling question among the

Jews, and it had been the cause of incessant riot and rebellion against

the Roman imperialists. At that time, the Jews claimed that they had no

king but God, and that paying taxes to Caesar was treachery to God. So

their question to Jesus could be a trap to Jesus. If Jesus said that

this tax should not be paid, the Pharisees would report at once to

Pilate so that Jesus would be arrested. If Jesus said that this tax be

paid, the frantic Jews would stone him to death.

What could Jesus do in this situation? Look at verses 23-25a. "He

saw through their duplicity and said to them, 'Show me a denarius.

Whose portrait and inscription are on it?' 'Caesar's,' they replied."

He said to them in verse 25b, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's,

and to God what is God's." It was indeed their tricky question. But

when Jesus answered them on the basis of the truth of God, they were

unable to find a basis to trap Jesus in what he had said there in

public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent (26).

When Jesus said, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God

what is God's," he was speaking to them about man's basic obligation as

a citizen of a nation, as well as a citizen of the kingdom of God. If a

man lives in a country and enjoys all its privileges, he must fulfill

four basic obligations: the obligation of paying taxes, the obligation

of national defense, the obligation of excellent elementary education,

and the obligation of labor. In a time of war, all eligible men in

their twenties are obliged to be drafted and go to the front lines of

battle and fight against the enemy at the cost of their lives.

Likewise, we, the children of God, have basic obligations to God.

First, we must love God. Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us, "Love the Lord your

God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your

strength." When we love God, we can love our parents. If we honor God,

we can honor brothers and sisters. Second, we must stand clearly on the

side of God.  This world is a battleground between God and Satan. So

we, the children of God, must stand on the side of God. We children of

God should be the soldiers of Jesus Christ. We must equip ourselves

with the truth of God so that we can defend the gospel of Jesus against

the schemes of the devil (Eph 6:11). Third, we must obey Jesus' world

mission command (Mk 16:15). It is to obey the ultimate purpose of God

for world salvation.

Second, "Whose wife will she be?" (27-33)

After the Pharisees' spies left Jesus speechlessly, the Sadducees

came to Jesus with a question. At that time, they held the political

power of the Jews. Ironically, they controlled the high priesthood,

though they did not believe in the resurrection. They were extremely

nervous that someone might disturb their wealth and established

position in the world. What was worse, they were political

collaborators with Rome. In order to rule the religious world, they

adopted the five books of Moses' Law, but set no stock in the prophetic

books, which urged them to repent. They believed in free will.

Their question to Jesus was based on the Law of Moses. For example,

when Er, the first son of Judah, died with no heir, Onan his younger

brother married Tamar, who had been his older brother's wife. When Onan

also died, Tamar had to wait for Shelah, the youngest son of Judah, to

grow up and become her husband (Ge 38:1-11). Their question was as

follows, "'Teacher,' they said, 'Moses wrote for us that if a man's

brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the

widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers.

The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then

the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no

children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection

whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?'" (28-33)

The Sadducees were the object of aspiration to all the people of the

time. But when we analyze their question, they were tragic in their

thought world and were under the power of death.

In this story we see the wealthy Sadducees' tragic thought world. In

verses 29-32 they talked about the death of seven brothers. All of them

died young and childless. This is also a story of a most sorrowful

woman, who had married these seven brothers, and then she died too,

unable to fulfill her duty of bearing an heir to the family. The

Sadducees were only thinking about tragic death--the first brother's

death, the second brother's death, and all the seven brothers' deaths,

and the death of a woman who had watched seven husbands' deaths.  Their

thought world was tragedy because they had no resurrection faith.

The Sadducees' integrity was nothing but greed. The gist of their

question was, "At the resurrection, whose wife will she be, since the

seven were married to her?"; in other words, "Who among the seven

brothers will grab her as his wife?" The picture of this scene is

exactly a demons' carnival. The Sadducees had grabbed money; they had

scrambled for political power; they had obtained the places of honor in

society. Even though they had worldly wealth and honor, they were under

the power of sin and death because they had no resurrection faith.

They were similar to Nicodemus. He had a golden chariot, a sash around

his chest as a Sanhedrin member. But he came to Jesus to beg heavenly

sunlight. Because they did not have resurrection faith, their agony of

life was, "whose wife will she be?" among the seven brothers.

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, so they had no

spiritual eyes to see the kingdom of God. So the Sadducees saw only the

things of the world. They also heard only the things of the world. When

they rejected the resurrection of Jesus, they were confined in the

things of the world. As we see, the Sadducees had no fear of God in

their hearts. The Sadducees had no absolutes of God in their hearts. As

a result, they were relativistic. A relativistic mentality made them

scatterbrains and the servants of Satan, eager to kill Jesus.  Leo

Tolstoy wrote so many good humanitarian novels. Among them,

"Resurrection" seems to be the best. But he was too proud to believe in

the resurrection of Jesus. So, at the moment of his death, he rose from

his bed, came out on the street near a railroad station, and cried out,

"Tragedies, tragedies!"  These days, we see so many Sadducee-like

Americans. They say that they are Christians but they don't believe

Jesus' resurrection. When they do not believe the resurrection of

Jesus, they become ungodly people. Ungodly people seek physical

pleasure such as several days of vacation with their hard-earned money.

They not only indulge in the sin of sexual immorality, they also

condone their children to enjoy the sin of sexual immorality. Some

people strongly encourage their children to be "normal" persons. It

means they must follow the trend of the world. But the sin of sexual

immorality brings forth a high divorce rate and the sin of sexual

immorality discourages young students not to study diligently but to

enjoy the sin of sexual immorality. As a result, they become ungodly


The Sadducees' tragic question reminds us of 1 John 2:15-17. It

says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves

the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the

world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the

boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from

the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does

the will of God lives forever."

The Sadducees were tragic because they were spiritually blind, and

they could not digest the tragic things of the world with spiritual

meaning. On the other hand, those who have spiritual eyes are not

tragic, even though they live in the midst of the tragic world. Milton

was blinded when he was young. In the midst of his suffering, he

thought of God. Then God opened his spiritual eyes. As a result, he

could write "Paradise Lost," one of the most excellent classics. Paul,

who suffered for the sake of Christ more than one can say, said in

Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of

those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Those who have opened their spiritual eyes can see the deep meaning of

human sufferings and agonies and can grow in the image of God, like

Joseph in the Old Testament.

Third, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (34-40)

Jesus knew that the Sadducees had no spiritual eyes to see beyond

terrestrial phenomena.  With great compassion Jesus taught them a Bible


Look at verse 34. "Jesus replied, 'The people of this age marry and

are given in marriage.'" Jesus knew what people of the world are mainly

eager to do. To mankind, birth, marriage and death are the three main

events of life. Men do their best to grow up to get married, and then

die. Most women devote a great deal of time to solving their marriage

problems. One lady spent 13 years of her life trying to solve her

marriage problem and became a mental patient.  Since Adam's Fall, women

were cursed only to desire a husband day and night. The people of the

world seem to be doing many great things. But they are doing the same

things as the people in the time of Noah. They are eating and drinking;

they marry and are given in marriage; they are cheating and being

cheated. Those who are enslaved by money-making and marriage problem

cannot see the glorious Risen Christ.

Look at verse 35. "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..." Through Jesus' death and

resurrection God gave us a new birth into a living hope in the kingdom

of God (1Pe 1:3,4). Through Jesus' death and resurrection God gave us

the grace of forgiveness, eternal life, and the kingdom of God as our

inheritance.  In the kingdom of God, there will be no more marriage

problems or broken family problems. There will be no procreation and no

death.  Those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and

in the resurrection from the dead will be like angels. They will look

most beautiful. They will look like Jesus (1Co 15:49).  They are happy

all the time. Here, Jesus is explaining the spiritual world through

resurrection faith. Read verses 35,36.

The Sadducees, however, insisted that they could not believe the

resurrection of the body because there was no precedent for it, still

less any proof of it in the books of the Law. But Jesus gave them an

answer from the book of Exodus. Look at verses 37,38. "But in the

account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls

the Lord 'the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of

Jacob.' He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him

all are alive." This phrase, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and

the God of Jacob," is an important Bible truth and is repeated over and

over again in the Bible.  It is repeated to emphasize that our God is

the living God. It is repeated to emphasize that in the living God we

are all alive. Thank God that we are all alive in the living God

through his resurrection.

"The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" means

that man is immortal. "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God

of Jacob" means that God is not only the Father of Abraham, but also

the Father of Isaac and of Jacob. It also means that before the living

God, the three of them are all alive, not dead, even though they died a

long time ago. Contrary to what the Sadducees thought, that death is

the end of everything, we are born to be the immortal children of God

through his Son's resurrection.  "The God of Abraham and the God of

Isaac and the God of Jacob" means that our God is the God of the

living. Horizontally, God is the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac

and the God of Jacob. Vertically, God is the God of Abraham and the God

of David and the God of Jesus Christ. God is not the God of the dead,

but of the living. There is no death to those who believe in his Son's

resurrection. But the Sadducees could not believe, because they loved

money more than they loved God.

Fourth,  "Whose Son is the Christ?" (41-47)

Look at verse 41. "Then Jesus said to them, 'How is it that they say

the Christ is the Son of David?'" If the Messiah was supposed to be a

descendant of David, how could David refer to one of his own offspring

as his Lord and Christ? Jesus' question was logically paradoxical, but

spiritual, and it is based on the promise of God. They knew the Bible,

so they understood what Jesus was saying. But in their stubbornness

they could not believe. Jesus rebuked them for their spiritual

blindness. Look at verses 45-47. "While all the people were listening,

Jesus said to his disciples, 'Beware of the teachers of the law. They

like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the

marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and

the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a

show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.'"

They do so many anointed comedies because they do not believe in the

resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We admit that the American Dream

itself is good. We see that the people of the former U.S.S.R. and many

other nations are eager to pursue the American Dream. But if we only

pursue the American Dream, which is similar to Sadducism, we will be as

tragic as the Sadducees.

When we believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will be clothed

in the likeness of Jesus Christ, all beautiful and handsome. May God

richly bless you to believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ.