Matthew 22:30c-34
One-upmanship
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Matt. 22:30c (Holman) “. . .in Heaven.”

One of the best ways we will be like angels is; we will no longer hurt God. In Heaven, our spirit will no longer war with our flesh, and there will be no more temptation and sin. We will no longer be subject to human lusts.
A day is coming—Thank God!—when we’ll worship Him in perfect purity, with nothing held back. We should want to worship this way now.
The sheer wonder of God’s grace should amaze us. The preaching of the gospel to us, a gift prompted by the Holy Spirit, is a treasure we should never take for granted. Angels have not been the recipients of this blessing, yet they “desire to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12). They are utterly amazed and endlessly curious about our salvation. Their attention hovers endlessly around the cross. Ours should too. Never stray far from Calvary.
In this life, let’s get a head start on serving God as we will in the next life. We can learn from the angels how to please God even here and now.
Fight a good fight, as Michael did when he fought Satan for Moses’ body. Set people free from bondage, as the angel did who came to Peter in prison. Comfort the sad, as the angel did who told Paul, “Fear not”. We will be perfect like angels someday; let’s get as close to it as we can in this life.

Matt. 22:31 “Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you
read what was spoken to you by God:”

Our Lord Jesus, sovereign God of the Universe, true God of true God, believed the Old Testament was “spoken to you by God.” God speaks in Scripture. He is holy; we call His book “Holy Bible”. It reveals His mind.
The Sadducees believed only the first five Old Testament books. Jesus chose to answer their unbelief by quoting a book they endorsed. In their riddle, they had quoted Moses to Jesus; now Jesus will quote Moses to them.

Matt. 22:32a “I am 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.”

At the burning bush, centuries after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died, God said to Moses, “I am (not was) the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (EX 3:6). At that moment, the three had been long dead, but God was still in a personal relationship with them. This meant only one thing. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive, raised from the dead.
Repeating the word “God” three times stressed the consistent ongoing person-to-person nature of God’s dealings with His people. He had a personal relationship not only with Abraham, but also with Isaac, and also with Jacob. This implies He can have a personal relationship with us too.
He is trustworthy and consistent, generation after generation the same. God raised the patriarchs; He will raise us. The dead in Christ truly are alive. He has power to do what we want to do: “Would we let any one dear to us die, if we had absolute control over life (and health), as God does?” (Lynch).
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” “He is no small monarch reigning over a graveyard” (Buttrick). He reigns over the Universe.

Matt. 22:33 And when the crowds heard this, they were astonished at
His teaching.

Generations of meticulous study had not seen in these verses from Exodus what Jesus saw in them. I wonder what you and I miss when we read the Bible. This inability to fully understand on our own is why illumination is essential. Inspired inerrancy is ineffective without inspired illumination.
Let me illustrate. I have read the entire Bible every year since 1976. Recently I saw in Philippians 2:13 the words “both to will”. I have read the verse many times, but caught only the “to do” part. I knew God enables me to do His will. Grasping “both to will” drove home to me the fact God also enables me to want to do His will. Wanting to do it makes it easier to do.
How often have I read this verse, yet not seen the words “both to will”? We can become numb to what we read most, and not see it any more.
Jesus had opened to the understanding of the Sadducees a passage of Scripture they already knew. This is what the Holy Spirit wants to do for us, and also through us. What a gift it is; to be used of the Spirit as a teacher to take a verse and draw from it truths a listener or reader has not seen before.
Jesus enables us to effectively wield the Word. Jesus used the unbelief of some to help the belief of others. False doctrine makes true doctrine stand out in bold relief. When comparing straw to wheat, the difference is obvious.
“Truth always gains by being opposed” (Clarke). The vocal presence of unbelievers has often raised up Defenders of the Faith whose insights have strengthened many by showing and proving the error of people’s lies.

Matt. 22:34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the
Sadducees, they came together in the same place.

Having had a divine “Nonsense!” dumped on their theology, the Sadducees slunk away. They were silenced, literally muzzled, but later proved they weren’t persuaded. Their pigheadedness proved Ben Franklin was right, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
The Pharisees, seeing their archrival Sadducees humiliated, decided to try their hand against Jesus once again. If they did beat Him, they would thereby trump the Sadducees. Thus the game of one-upmanship continued.
The Pharisees huddled, hoping to find someway to discredit Jesus before the crowds. The people could at any moment rise up in rebellion against Rome. This would cost the Pharisees their favored position.
It is interesting to note they were more concerned about their opponents losing than about the truth. We do not like to hear the truth from someone we do not like, but all truth is God’s truth, wherever it is found. Beware the danger of rejecting the message due to disliking the messenger.
Opposition kept blazing up against Jesus. He had to weigh each word, because truth never lacks opponents. Even the least slip of the lip could have been disastrous. This danger may be one reason He prayed so often.
Let God control your words. By doing so you control your “whole body” (JM 3:2). Many times Jesus won the day by using His words. He once spoke about the awesome power of words: “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34). Words reveal us. Speech betrays us. What’s in us is what bubbles to the surface. What’s in the well spills over into the bucket. In our conversation and slips of the lip we see us for what we really are. Many believers have laid other things on the altar. Maybe we need to bring our tongues, that God might use us as He used His Son.