Summary: The Sadducees came to Jesus with a question regarding resurrection. This is quite interesting since they did not believe in resurrection. His response revealed much about God's provision for us and life after death for the saved.
A Confrontation about Resurrection
Mark 12: 18-27
Those who embrace Jesus as the Christ, having received Him as Lord and Savior, all agree on an essential element of His existence – His glorious resurrection. Had He not risen from the grave, He would have been like all who came before Him. We would all yet be in our sin and have no hope of eternal life or acceptance of God in heaven. Having risen triumphantly from the grave, Jesus conquered sin and hell; and He also conquered the last enemy we shall face – death.
This eternal and essential truth regarding Jesus Christ is not embraced by all people. While most people around the world, regardless of their social or religious tendencies believe in some form of life in an after world, all do not embrace the resurrection. Most assume when they pass from this life, they will enter some form of utopia beyond the grave. Archaeological evidence of ancient civilizations reveals this belief has been held for centuries. Many cultures buried their dead with items believed to be necessary for life beyond the grave. While these expected a continued existence, few embraced the doctrine of resurrection in Christ.
Jesus also dealt with those who were confused about the resurrection. We have read of one such group in our text today. As we discuss the insights conveyed in the text, I want to consider: A Confrontation about Resurrection.
I. The Question of the Sadducees (18-23) – The opening verses reveal that Jesus was approached and questioned by the Sadducees regarding the resurrection. Consider:
A. Their Identification (18) – Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection. Jesus had just finished answering a question by the Pharisees and Herodians regarding whether it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, and their question was immediately followed by a question from the Sadducees. The Sadducees are not mentioned as often in Scripture as the Pharisees, but they were a very well-known and influential group. Even though they were a minority among the Jews, the Sadducees possessed great authority. They controlled the priesthood among the Jewish people, with all the high priests and chief priests being Sadducees. They held a majority within the Sanhedrin, the ruling council among the Jews. They controlled the commerce within the Temple, regulating what was bought and sold within the Temple grounds. The Sadducees were very wealthy and they also were favorable to the Roman authorities. Along with the Pharisees and Herodians, the Sadducees hated Jesus and wanted to destroy Him.
The Sadducees may have enjoyed great wealth and authority, but they did not have the favor or approval of the common Jew. The common people viewed them as arrogant, rude, and condescending to the general public. The Sadducees and the majority of Jewish people also disagreed on many points of doctrine. That brings us to the next point. Consider:
B. Their Inclination (18) – Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection. The Sadducees rejected the doctrine of resurrection. We will discover that their question was motivated by their disagreement with the teaching of Jesus in this fundamental doctrine. The Sadducees were very liberal in their theology, being in sharp contrast to the Pharisees who were very conservative in their theology. While both erred greatly, at least the Pharisees held the Scriptures in high regard. The Sadducees only embraced the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible. They held the idea that true doctrine could not be based upon what the prophets or other writers of the Old Testament had written.
I hope you realize the danger in such thinking and manner of doctrine. Paul declared the inspiration and benefit of all Scripture. 2 Tim.3:16-17 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. An approach such as the Sadducees to Scripture is always dangerous, leading to false doctrine being believed and promoted. I have dealt with those who neglect everything except the words of Christ. I have dealt with those who reject everything for the church today expect the writings of the apostle Paul. We must consider the Word of God in its entirety, studying the whole counsel of God, in order to fully comprehend biblical doctrine.
Consider the thoughts of Dr. Alan Carr regarding the doctrinal beliefs of the Sadducees: They believed in the existence of God, but they rejected everything else that was of a supernatural nature. They did not believe in demons, angels or the devil, they did not believe in miracles. They did not believe in Heaven or Hell. They did not believe in a future judgment. They did not believe in life after death, nor did they believe in the resurrection of the dead. That's why they were “Sad-you-see”. They could not find these doctrines in their reading of the Pentateuch, so they rejected them out of hand.