The Final Call
March 27, 2021
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1).
The Pharisees and Sadducees were the most powerful religious leaders in Israel in the time of Jesus. Yet they were polar opposites. The Sadducees were a religious/political group that confronted Jesus only on occasions. They were from the aristocratic class of society. They were wealthy and held powerful positions as religious leaders. The Chief Priests and the High Priest were members of the Sadducee sect, as were many of the members of the Sanhedrin (the ruling council or religious Supreme Court of the Jews).
The Sadducees denied God’s involvement in everyday life. The denied any resurrection from the dead (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18-27; Acts 23:8), which led them to stand opposed to the preaching and teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. They did not believe in the afterlife, stating that the soul died at death. So they did not hold to a heaven or hell. In fact, the Sadducees denied the existence of a spirit world, angels and demons (Acts 23:8). Because they were more political than religious, they were not concerned with Jesus until they feared He might bring down the wrath of Rome on Israel because of His message and popularity.
The Pharisees were more religious than political, in fact they despised politics unless it suited their agenda. They believed in personal self-righteousness, held to the oral tradition of Jewish history (Mishnah), accepted the written Scriptures (Old Testament), and corrupted the Mosaic Law by adding over 600 of their own laws to the Torah.
The Pharisees believed God controls all things, but human decisions could alter God’s plans. They believed in resurrection from the dead (Acts 23:6), and an afterlife with appropriate rewards in heaven and punishments in hell. They also believed in the spirit world with angels and demons. They looked for the coming Messiah, but rejected Jesus as the Christ of God.
In the course of Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees became keenly interested in Him and His doctrine. At every encounter Jesus offered the Pharisees and Sadducees the opportunity to believe in Him as the Messiah, but they refused. In Matthew 16, Jesus gave them one last opportunity to accept Him as the true Messiah of God. Again they refused. After two years of plotting to get rid of Him by tricking Him, catching Him in a lie, breaking their laws, even blaspheming the name of God, their work was about to end. Together they would successfully broker a deal to have Jesus crucified by the Romans. In less than 1 year Jesus would die on a cross.
“Lord Jesus, it grieves me to read how despised and rejected You were by Your own people, people who should have recognized and accepted You as Messiah and Savior. I pray for my people who are treating You the same way today. Open their eyes to the truth of Your salvation. Open doors of opportunity for us to share Your Gospel with them. To Your glory I ask, Amen.”