The Week that Changed the World: The Day Jesus Silenced the Skeptics – Mark 12:18-27

Religious liberals believe their opinion is superior; traditional and Biblical standards are mocked and derided as being outdated and useless


By Donald Whitchard

Matthew 22:23-33,Mark 12:18-27,Luke 20:27-40


Summary: Shortly after throwing the Pharisees and their cohorts for a loop over the issue of paying taxes to Caesar, the Lord Jesus confronted and rebuked the erroneous Scriptural teachings of the Sadducees, the skeptics of His day.  The Scriptures are the best weapon in the arsenal of believers.


There were two main bodies of religious teachers who operated during the time of Jesus until the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  They each had their respective spheres of influence in Jewish society and beliefs.  Scripture gives more attention to the Pharisees, and not in a good light as they continually clashed with the Lord Jesus throughout all four Gospels over the issue of real worship and devotion to God as compared to traditions, rules, and rituals they practiced that came to be identified with worship and faith in Judea.  Outwardly the Pharisees were orthodox and what we would refer to as “conservative” when it came to the issue of the Bible and its teachings.  They believed all Scripture was inspired of God, the resurrection of the righteous dead and the punishment of the wicked at the last day, the existence of both angels and demons, and the promise of the coming Messiah of God proclaimed by the prophets.  They had originally been established as a group of men who returned to Judea after the exile, dedicating themselves to living a holy life consecrated to God and the study of His Word.  In light of the idolatry and wickedness that had driven the nation of Israel into exile by Babylon, these men were determined that such behavior never happened in the life of the Jewish nation again.  During the time of the Intertestamental Period, lasting four hundred years, many Pharisees were martyred for standing against what they saw as pagan influences being forced on the Jews by rulers such as Antiochus IV, the Seleucid ruler of Syria who was a fanatic about bringing everyone under Greek influence.

These were noble and godly actions, but they also fell into the trap of allowing interpretations of the Scriptures by a succession of teachers to be more important than the Scriptures themselves.  Meticulous attention was given to issues such as restrictions one had to follow in order to properly observe the Sabbath, or how to wash oneself in preparation for rituals, or prayers in public, or the wearing of certain items of clothing as a way of appearing pious and devout, or the method of handling wives and women in society, the shunning of those they saw as “vile sinners”, and making the worship of God a task and chore of which the Jews came to detest and fear instead of a time of reverence and rest as the Sabbath was designed.  By the time of Jesus’ arrival, they had turned into a fanatical cabal of religious elites whose hypocritical lives and manners were fixed on traditions, rituals, rote worship, and emotionless devotions, prayers, and the reading of Scripture as a chore and not a blessing (Matthew 3:7, 15:1, 16:1, 19:3, 23:2; Luke 7:30, 18:10; Acts 5:34, 21:6).  It is worth noting that when the Pharisees clashed with the Lord on varied issues, they used tradition to justify their actions, while Jesus used the Word of God with reverence and authority for which the people hungered.  They flocked to Him for teachings that were not based on the endless opinions of the Pharisees.  Little wonder that these “whitewashed tombs” hated and reviled the LORD.  Their hatred came to a point where they wanted Him dead and forgotten.  He was breaking their grip over the people and this was not acceptable.

The other group with whom Jesus had conflict were the polar opposites when it came to issues such as the entirety of Scripture, the afterlife, the resurrection, and the angelic and demonic world. They were known as the Sadducees and not given as much attention in Scripture as were their conservative rivals for the attention of the people of Israel (Matt. 3:7, 16:1, 6, 11, 22:23-24; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 4:1, 5:17, 23:8).  They tended to be materialistic, denying the resurrection, the afterlife, a final judgment, the traditions of the elders, the existence of angels and demons, and that only the first five books of Moses were authentic Scripture and nothing else.  Any rewards you received from God were in this life.  The question I would ask them is why do you even bother to serve God?  Sadducee belief is a philosophy of nothingness.  What good is that?  They would play a mind game with the Pharisees on the issue of the resurrection by asking them a frankly ridiculous question over an equally ridiculous situation (Mark 12:18-23), done solely to confound them and be able to give a satisfactory answer or a defense of their position on this issue.  It would seem that their point of view would be more logical and ultimately acceptable to the public and have the Pharisees abandon the beliefs they held.  This seems to be a common attitude of religious liberalism.  They believe their opinion is superior over others and that traditional, Biblical, or any related standards are mocked and derided as being outdated, useless, and a relic of ancient thinking best left abandoned.

Believing that they had the upper hand in this debate, the Sadducees turned their attention to what Jesus would do or say when faced with the same question given to the Pharisees.  It was time to have these liberal teachers put in their place, and Jesus gave them the truth about their resurrection “dilemma.”  Mark 12:24-27 tells us what Jesus taught them.  The Scriptures plainly teach that there will be a resurrection, and He will use the books of Moses to prove it.  When the righteous are resurrected, they will be as the angelic host with no need to procreate or marry (Psalm 71:20; Luke 20:36; John 5:25, 6:40, 11:25).  They have the riches of heaven in Christ (Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 2:3).  During the millennial reign of Christ on Earth, those who survived the horrid time of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 4-19) enter in their regular bodies which will be healed and have the ability to bear children who will have a sin nature, even though the devil is bound for the thousand years and cannot tempt anyone or lure them into evil personally.  The Scriptures show that there will be many who, being a part of a perfect world ruled in holiness and grace by the Lord Jesus Christ, will choose to rebel against His authority and join Satan, who is briefly released from his prison, in a final attempt to overthrow God.  This rebellion will be stopped before it starts as Satan and all who have followed him will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20) for their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There will be no “parole,” “second chance,” or “do-over,” They are there forever.  Heed the warning.

Jesus points out to the Sadducees that in the Book of Exodus, where the LORD is speaking to Moses (Exodus 3:6, 15), telling him that He is, and was, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This shows that the patriarchs are alive in the Paradise of God (Luke 16:22-23, 25-26, 23:47).  Jesus shows that He is the God of the living and not the dead (12:27).  The Sadducees were now in a dilemma of their own.  They could not refute what Jesus said, for that would imply that God was wrong in what He said to Moses.  To do so would be blasphemy.  Their arrogance and smugness turned into puzzlement and forced them rethink their beliefs and teachings.  They walked away as the Pharisees had done earlier when they confronted Jesus over the tax issue and His unexpected answer.

This should show anyone who arrogantly believes that they can pull one over on the Lord Jesus.  He cannot be tricked or fooled by anyone.  He is God Incarnate and knows all things (Psalm 139:4, 147:5; Proverbs 15:11; Isaiah 40:26; Ezekiel 37:3; 2 Corinthians 12:2; Hebrews 4:13; 1John 3:20), including everything about you, faults and all.  So, if you have spent your life arguing against God, denying His existence, or mocking His teaching, or anything that opposes Him, the fact is that you are in a losing battle that will not end well for you eternally.  Swallow your pride, abandon your arrogance, humble yourself, and face the fact that you are not the center of all things.  Your thoughts and perception of life are limited and finite as compared to the wonder of creation and the Sovereign Lord God Almighty who put it all into being and function.  He provides the blessings of salvation, grace, and mercy to everyone who approaches Him with a repentant heart and who surrender their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Matthew 11:28-30).  Please do not end your day as you started it by ignoring or mocking what has been presented.  Give your life to Him this day (Matthew 11:28-30; John 10:28-30; 2 Corinthians 6:2).  You have nothing to lose.  Here ends the lesson.  Now apply it to your life (Isaiah 1:18).


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Luke 21:36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

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