Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
January 13, 2013
 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying,  “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.  There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring.  And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise.  And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died.  In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”  Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?  For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the 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 God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
-- Mark 12:18-27, ESV
This is the second of three fateful confrontations which occurred during the final days before Jesus died on the cross. In the first (ref. Mark 12:13-17), a committee of fools from the Pharisees and Herodians were caught in their own trap after encountering the wisdom of the Lord. In this second one (ref. Mark 12:18-27), representatives from the Sadducees flaunt their sophistication in front of the Ancient of Days. In the next one (ref. Mark 12:28-34), we will get a far better question and a far-reaching answer. But for now, let’s focus on the fracas between the Sadducees and our Sovereign God.
The Modern Man
The Sadducees were the epitome of modern man in Jesus’ day. They were religious, as was virtually every member of Jewish society. They were well-educated, typically, and from the finer families in Jerusalem. They were politically active and powerful, controlling the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews. I think they typify modern Americans, who number among the most well-bred, well-fed, and well-read peoples of the world.
Modern man respects the law, but tries to twist it to suit his own purposes. The Sadducees paid attention to the “Law of Moses” (the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Bible), but gave no heed to the other extant books of the Old Testament. Unless you are Al Capone, it is hard to climb the social ladder unless you are a law-abiding citizen. So the Sadducees, like their counterparts the Pharisees, tipped their external cap to some letters of God’s law while inwardly rebelling against it for the pleasures of sin and the purposes of self-advancement. Modern society and modern churches are filled with the same kind of modern people, who literally use God to get ahead.
Modern man covets political power, but shuns the reality of spiritual power. What the Sadducees really respected and wanted was power and control over other people. They compromised their Jewish principles with the Roman Empire in order to gain favor. They outmaneuvered the opposing party, the Pharisees, for more seats in the council. They measured power in money, votes, and offices. Yet they did not believe in supernatural power, in angels and devils, nor the resurrection from the dead. They did not believe in a personal God who is personally involved in people’s lives, a God who was personally standing right in front of them.
Modern man lives for today, for he has no firm belief in eternity. The Sadducees lived by the modern, capitalistic adage of “get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can.” They strove for worldly wealth at the expense of any eternal investments. And why not, for no Sadducee had any belief in resurrection, or life after death, perhaps that’s why they were sad, you see? If this life is all we get, with no eternal consequences, why not live for money, sex, and power? Why not make your own rules and ignore God’s? Why not cheat your neighbor, if it brings you pleasure or broadens your bank account? Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow never comes.
Modern man talks about the Bible and Jesus, but considers both of them a joke. The Bible was the best seller in the Sadducees’ day, as it is in our modern era. And though Jesus’ popularity was mixed then, He is the most popular person on the planet today. The Sadducees, while giving lip service to Scripture and feigning respect for Jesus, were actually making fun of them both. Levirate marriage (ref. Deuteronomy 25:7-10) was a serious part of the Old Covenant. In a patriarchal society governed by a covenant, redeeming a widow and keeping her in the family protected women and kept faith with God. The ridiculous, hypothetical question the Sadducees posed to Jesus revealed their contempt for present holiness and unbelief in future judgment. And to lay it on Jesus as a form of a test or trap showed no seriousness towards the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like most modern people today, a literal Bible and a living Lord were not taken seriously.
These modern men did not realize how short their time was on earth. These modern men made choices that were extremely near-sighted. If only they had known that, as least for a few moments, they stood face to face with the eternal Son of God.
The Eternal God
Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, had the first and last words in this debate: “You are wrong …, you are quite wrong.” Jesus boldly and flatly exposed their errors about the Bible, about the power of God, about angels and eternal souls, and about the seriousness of God and the gospel.
God takes His word seriously. “You know neither the Scriptures …,” said Jesus. Whether it is rules for marriage or truths about eternal life, God takes His word seriously. One day He will hold every person accountable for their knowledge and obedience, or their ignorance and disobedience, to His holy word. God has gone to great lengths to speak, inspire prophets, guard and guide the writers of Scripture, and provide preachers and teachers so that people can hear and take heed to ultimate truths. And while modern man may make a mockery of old-fashioned values and absolute truth, God takes them seriously and rewards those of us who embrace them.
God shows His power judiciously. “… nor the power of God,” said Jesus. These Sadducees should have been trembling before Jesus rather than taunting Him with silly questions. Jesus could have answered them with fire from heaven, but chose rather to use a few fiery words. God shows His power in many ways. There is power in the truth, power in a right rebuke, power in the cross, power in the blood, power in the empty tomb, power in the blessed hope of Christ’s return. Do you believe in the power of God?
God created people in His image to live eternally. “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” said Jesus. Only God knows what it is like to exist from eternity past. There never was a time when God wasn’t, and there never will be a time when God won’t be. He is the eternal God. And He created us, from the moment of our procreation, to be eternal beings. Life is short. Eternity is forever. Yet what we do in this life, the manner in which we approach God and the things of God, shall reveal where we will spend our eternity. This is a serious matter, as serious as God Himself.
The Modern Man and The Eternal God
These Sadducees mocked God’s word, they mocked God’s doctrines concerning resurrection and eternal life, and they mocked God to His face. The Sadducees, smug in their earthly success, were making sport and having a little fun with Jesus. I assure you, right now they are not mocking God and they are not having fun. As the writer of Hebrews said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (ref. Hebrews 10:31).
We are modern people living in the modern age. Let us take full advantage of it. Let us use computers, watch high definition television, and fly in airplanes. But let us take stock of the fact that we do these things in a modern world made by the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and it is to Him we will one day give an account. So let us let power, pleasure, and money take care of itself. Let us trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our Savior. Let us trust in His holy word, the Bible, and let it govern and guide our lives. Let us worship and serve Him, and love one another. For then our eternal estate will be guaranteed with God, and we modern men shall live and enjoy our eternal God forever and ever. Amen.