Jesus Has the Answer — Part 2 — Mark 12:18-27

Section dealing with a series of attacks brought against Jesus by various religious leaders to try to discredit Him before the general public and try to get him in trouble with the religious and political authorities.

These first two attacks are grouped together because the motivation of the attackers is the same and therefore they track along the same outline.

Next week we will see a different approach by a scribe; all taking place on the third day of Passion Week.



Last week looked at an Attack directed against Consistency – How can you balance what God demands in terms of Civil Responsibilities with what God demands in terms of allegiance to Him?   — Issue of Taxation

Today – Attacked directed against Absurdity – Using Convoluted, Hypothetical example to try to mock biblical truth  — Issue of the Afterlife – specifically: what will marriage look like in the afterlife?

You can have confidence that the Wisdom of God will never be disproved by arguments of consistency or absurdity.

David Thompson: What do other religions say about the afterlife?

  • Mormons: say you go to 1 of 3 kingdoms based on approval of Joseph Smith
  • Hindus: Reincarnated based on your works
  • Muslims, Islam — Die and go to a pleasure palace; if you die a martyr you get 72 virgins
  • Indians: you need to be buried with your bow and arrows as you go to your Happy and Holy Hunting Ground
  • Egyptians: be buried with things you can take with you into eternity
  • Some Greeks: bury with a coin in mouth so you can pay the fee to cross into the land of the afterlife

Religious people just make it up as they go and people believe it; bunch of crazy views

Important to understand what the Scriptures teach about the afterlife.


A.  (:18) The Trappers – Sophisticated Movers and Shakers with Theological Blinders

  1. Their Identity – Who They Are

And some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Him,

urban, wealthy, and educated Jews

Parunak: The Sadducees accept only the five books of Moses as Scripture, and so reject doctrines that are most fully revealed later, such as resurrection. Cf. Paul’s use of this tension in

Acts 23:6-9.  Strange partners aligned together to try to attack Jesus — Don’t believe in angels or in the afterlife

Alan Carr: The Sadducees controlled all the buying and selling that went on at the Temple. Thus, they were angry with Jesus because He had interrupted their business enterprises when He cleansed the Temple, Mark 11:12-19.

When the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 so the Sadducees disappeared from history.

  1. Their Motivation

and began questioning Him, saying,

We know that their approach was cynical and hypocritical because they did not even believe in the issue they were interrogating Jesus on – so they were not seeking truth; they did not want to understand God’s mind so that they could live a more righteous life; they had searched for some type of question that would expose Jesus as a teacher of the ridiculous; a teacher of the absurd

B.  (:19-23) The Trap

  1. (:19)  Hypocritical Flattery — Biblical Principle – Pretending to Respect the Law of God

Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves behind a wife, and leaves no child, his brother should take the wife, and raise up offspring to his brother.

Address Jesus with that flattery title of “Teacher” even though they had no respect for His message; they claimed to show great respect for the Pentateuch – but they will be shown by Jesus to be ignorant of the Scriptures

Alan Carr: They begin to tell Jesus a story based on the Old Testament law of levirate marriage. This law was taught in Deut. 25:5-10. This law made provision for families, tribal names and inheritances intact. If a man died, with no living children, his next of kin would marry his widow and raise up a child in the name of the deceased

The whole point of this law was to ensure two things–first, that the family name continued, and second, that the property remained within the family.

For those people who like to claim that we are still under the Law … here is an interesting case study to apply to your life today – see how that flies in our culture

So the Sadducees present their biblical principle and case study that will be the basis for their question – now they expand upon it

  1. (:20-22)  Using a Convoluted, Hypothetical Example

There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died, leaving no offspring. And the second one took her, and died, leaving behind no offspring; and the third likewise; and so all seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also.

This poor woman was worn out – not exactly an ideal situation – in fact this goes beyond a worst case situation – completely ridiculous

  1. (:23)  Springing the Trap by Highlighting the Absurdity of the Situation

In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be?

For all seven had her as wife.

Assuming several important truths here:

  • That Jesus believed in and taught of a physical resurrection and the joys of an eternal afterlife
  • That people would recognize one another and continue to enjoy relationships with one another in the afterlife

Borgman: Reduction to the point of the absurd – trying to show that a basic belief is untrue because of certain deductions or implications that are taken to the absurd;

Cf. doctrine of Election: why then pray??  Why then witness??

C.  (:24-27) The Truth Reigns Supreme

  1. (:24) Exposure of Their Deep-Rooted Spiritual Problems

Jesus said to them, ‘Is this not the reason you are mistaken,

that you do not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God?’

Jesus does not mince words; not trying to gain their favor; certainly not responding to their flattery with flattery – telling them the cold, hard truth –

You have lost your minds!   What are you thinking?  You could not be further from the truth …

Sometimes we need to shake people up with such clear denunciations; not beat around the bush

MacArthur: The verb mistaken is planao from which we get the word planet, wandering bodies. The verb means to cause to wander, to lead astray. You are leading yourselves astray by your biblical ignorance. You’re mentally wandering. You’ve been cut loose from reality. You’ve been cut loose from reason. You’ve been cut loose from truth. That is why false teachers in Jude 13 are called wandering stars.

Jesus points to Two Fundamental Problems that prevent them from getting it right:

  • Knowledge Problem – lack of spiritual insight

Requires sovereign enlightenment from the Holy Spirit to understand spiritual truth; not a function of human wisdom or man’s wisdom; in fact that type of sophistication leads only to pride which is a major hindrance to understanding the Scriptures; “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble”

  • Moral Problem – disconnected from the reality of the Power of God

Didn’t God create the Heavens and the earth ex nihilo?  How difficult could anything else be for God?  What about creating man out of the dust of the earth and woman from Adam’s rib; How about the universal flood or the parting of the Red Sea; What about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or the bringing down of the walls of Jericho? Is anything too difficult for the power of God?

Parunak: Beware of “foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law,Titus 3:9. The Pharisees’ question [earlier paragraph] was at least a practical one, wrong only in its motive. This one is wrong in both its motive and its substance.

  1. (:25)  Correction of Inaccurate Theology Regarding the Glorified State

For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Resurrection life is not the same as the present life as we know it now

Upon first blush, this explanation on the part of Jesus can seem a little deflating – especially for married couples – won’t their relationship be even better in the afterlife?  Doesn’t God have something better in mind for us than what we presently experience?

Alistair Begg: For those of us who are enjoying the companionship of married life and the joys of every aspect, the concept of a heaven that removes us from this realm is not something that to us is immediately attractive; Precious relationships in this life will not be eradicated but enhanced;

  • King David looked forward to being reunited with his dead son

  • Paul instructed us not to grieve like unbelievers because our parting is not permanent

Constable: Marriage as we know it will not exist when we have immortal bodies, and deathless existence will not require propagation of the human race. The Sadducees denied the existence of the angelic race (Acts 23:8), which belief Jesus also corrected. They considered their views enlightened, but Jesus said they needed enlightening. Jesus did not say that when people die they become angels, which they do not, nor that we will be “like angels” in every respect, which we will not.

Alan Carr: While the relationship of marriage is a wonderful and divinely ordained institution, it is an absolutely earthly institution. Marriage was designed for companionship, Gen. 2:18, continuation of the species, Gen. 1:22, and for the fulfillment of legitimate sexual needs, 1 Cor. 7:2. When we get to Heaven, we will be like the angels, only in the sense that we will be spiritual beings that will have no need for the physical necessities of this earthly life. In heaven, like the angels, we will be deathless, sinless, sexless, glorified and eternal. But, unlike the angels, we will be like Jesus, 1 John 3:2. Life will be different when we get there.

There will be no need for reproduction and childbirth because there will be no death. There will be no exclusive physical relationships like there are here, because in Heaven everyone will be perfectly and intimately related to everyone else, including God.

When we study what the bible teaches about our Resurrection body, we should be excited in anticipation of the afterlife:

1 Cor. 15:35-49   [sermon notes]

  1. (:26-27a)  Zinger Directed to Their More Fundamental Main Issue

But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ‘? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living;

Important that Jesus used a reference from the Pentateuch (and affirmed authorship of Moses)

Focused in on their major error – they did not believe in the resurrection and the after life

Jesus makes his argument on the tense of a verb – instructive on how we are to use the inspired word of God

If He is the God of the living, then where is the absurdity of the doctrine of the resurrection?

We don’t have to worry about silly arguments like how can God put back together a body that was blown up in an explosion or cremated and the ashes scattered ….

Bob Utley:  There are several texts in the OT that affirm this truth (cf. Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27; Ps. 23:6; Isa. 25:6-9; 26:14-19; Dan. 12:2). Yet the afterlife in the OT is a veiled reality. The progressive revelation of the NT clarifies and defines the reality, but still in veiled, metaphorical language. Heaven is a sure promise and truth, but its exact nature is a mystery.

Constable: In concluding that the Old Testament did not teach the resurrection, the Sadducees had overlooked an important passage in the Torah (Pentateuch). They regarded the Torah as particularly authoritative. Exodus 3:6 taught continued human existence after death. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still alive in Moses’ day. The Sadducees not only rejected the resurrection, but also the afterlife in heaven or hell. The Jews had a more holistic view of man than most modern westerners do (cf. Gen. 2:7). The Sadducees concluded that if the material part of man died, the whole person ceased to exist. Jesus, who held the same unified view of man, argued that if the immaterial part of man lived on, the whole person would live on.

D.  (:27b) The Treachery Defeated

you are greatly mistaken.

You are poor theologians


  • Know the Scriptures intimately
  • Have faith in the Power of God