Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
In the Old Testament certain "signs" are given that identify the actions of the long-awaited Messiah. Isaiah 35:5–6 speaks of the day of salvation: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”While in prison, John the Forerunner sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he really is the expected Messiah. Jesus responds: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matthew 11:4–6; Luke 7:20–23).
Jesus also alluded to Isaiah 26:19: “Your dead shall live”and while in the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 which speaks of bringing "good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18–19).
These leaders had demanded that Jesus tell them if He was the Messiah (John 10:24). He told them again, knowing that they would use his words against Him. They brought Him to trial for blasphemy and they got Pilate to sentence Him to be crucified. They thought they would bring an end to Him, as they had with others who falsely claimed to be Messiah.
The Sadducees rejected belief in life after death because that is how they interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures. They settled on this position because, as N.T. Wright points out, “resurrection from the beginning was a revolutionary doctrine" (The Resurrection of the Son of God, p. 138). The idea of an eternal kingdom under God's rule rather than the Sadducees would have been extremely troubling to the ruling elites in Jerusalem.