Summary: There are two complimentary components of a God-honored life; knowledge of Scripture and faith-motivated action.


Mark 12:18-27

Sermon Objective: There are two complimentary components of a God-honored life; knowledge of Scripture and faith-motivated action.

Supporting Scripture: 1 Kings 18:20-39; Hebrews 11:6, James 2:14-26

18Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19"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. 20Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?"

24Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ’I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!"

They are first mentioned here. This is the only time in Mark’s Gospel that the Sadducees are mentioned. That is probably because their role in religions life was limited in Christ’s time. They weren’t as influential or significant as they wanted to be. In fact, in the 107 years that the temple stood and High priests were elected there was only one Sadducee who ever served in that capacity and he only served for 3 months.

There is something telling about that to me. They wanted to be influential but they did everything wrong that would / could provide them with spiritual influence. They were great at working with human machinations and reason but they just could not get on the same channel as God when it came to ministering to the people.

The Sadducees remind me of the Laputa and the Balnibarbi in Jonathan Swift’s book “Gulliver’s Travels.” The Laputa and the Balnibarbi were very cerebral people who were devoted to the arts and science but were incapable of finding practical uses for their thought and development. They were incapable of helping people in any meaningful way. The Sadducees are the religious equivalent to the Laputa and the Balnibarbi … they never did anything of significance … they only thought about it.

The problem was that the Sadducees possessed no substance. They had a lot of activity but no life.

Theologically they were VERY conservative. They only embraced the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) and specifically rejected oral traditions like those that taught a resurrection. “If the Pentateuch doesn’t teach it,” they would say, “we will not teach it either.”

Jesus dissects the Sadducees problem in a brilliant and concise way. He says … “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”

Jesus is pretty bold here. These were men who were VERY highly trained in the law and probably (almost certainly) had memorized the entire Pentateuch. For Jesus to say this would be akin to telling a judge that he did not know the law or a professor that he did not know his subject.

Jesus gives a very piercing assessment of their condition. “Error” means to wander astray. “You are badly mistaken” is Jesus’ way of telling them that their mistake is not trivial but egregious and frocked with dangerous consequences.


I find this story significant because we are not too far removed from it.

We too, become pretty much set in our ways and in our Biblical viewpoints; even to the degree that we will not budge theologically or leave room for God to break through with fresh insight. And by “fresh insight” I mean worldview altering discoveries. They scare us. We too can be guilty of saying “If the Bible says it that settles it” without ever stopping to realize that what we think the Bible is saying may not be ALL that the Bible is teaching. If it is a book disclosing God to us then we would be quite naïve and arrogant to think we have it all figured out and anyone who reads it differently misses it.

In hindsight Jesus’ observations from the Scriptures are obvious … God was the God of the living but the Sadducees could not / would not see it. They had already settled the question.

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