Mark 12:18-27 Taking Down the Sadducees

18 Then 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 raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection[c] whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

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

Taking Down the Sadducees

The Sadducees were a group of elite leaders in Israel who held the top seats in the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin was the highest court of the Jewish religious system.  From their elitist position, they were above belief in the resurrection.  The resurrection of the dead was championed by the Pharisees.  Jesus is systematically being opposed by various groups offended at his prophetic pronouncement of judgement on the temple.  When the Sadducees try and stump him with a question designed to show the absurdity of the resurrection, Jesus rounds on them and sends them packing.  This contrasts the hidden Jesus of previous Jesus.  Jesus is in open opposition to the legalistic, established religious system.

We have to see in our own lives that Jesus does not take a passive attitude when we define spirituality in our own terms.  When we decide that we know better than God and have a plan to establish our own righteousness, Jesus will not accept our own  systems. 


Jesus, I see the way that you faced the Sadducees and debunked their argument.  I pray that my desire to make my own way will not cause me to set up something that you must tear down.


  1. Who questions Jesus this time?
  2. What was the question that they asked Jesus?
  3. Is the story about the question they asked, or is it about the people who asked it?
  4. Who thinks they are too smart to accept the truth about Jesus these days?
  5. How should they be rebutted?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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5 Responses to Mark 12:18-27 Taking Down the Sadducees

  1. Christina Zezulak says:

    I appreciate the insight about this passage! It seems that the Sadducees asked Jesus about what they strongly opposed (the resurrection of the dead) because they were interested in (a) looking wise in their own eyes, and (b) establishing their distinct beliefs that are not founded on, or even interested in understanding, God’s truth. It reminds me of the religious leaders today who hold on to unbiblical traditions and beliefs in order to stay separate from another group of people (in this case, it would be the Sadducees remaining separate from the Pharisees). Are they really interested in knowing God and making Him known or are they more interested in glorifying themselves through religion by elevating themselves over others? I think that this question about marriage reveals the condition of their hearts, and also the hearts of many people today. Sadly, this is not a new occurrence… many unbelievers want to ask questions for the sake of dismissing Jesus and making Christians “look like fools” for believing what we do. Atheists are a perfect example, with questions such as “how can you believe a fairytale about some god in the sky that is only interested in killing people?” I think that by Jesus answering the question, but showing them the foolishness of it since they are well-aware of what God’s word teaches was wise. Continual debate with people that are not genuinely seeking will (most likely) only add fuel to the fire than produce good.

  2. 33324bg says:

    Hey Dr. Worrall? Did you just get the comment that I sent? I’m not sure if it went through.. 🙂

  3. 33324bg says:

    Oh no, I don’t think my other comment went through. Well, that’s okay, I’m learning how to do this, so that’s good. 🙂

    Some of what I had said was that this devo reminded me of one of the songs we sang in church yesterday. It’s called “O Great God” and is based on a prayer by one of the puritans.

    “O great God of highest heaven, occupy my lowly heart. Own it all and reign supreme, conquer every rebel power. Let no vice or sin remain that resists Your holy war. You have loved and purchased me, make me Yours forevermore.”

    I used to be a rebel, but since Jesus Christ saved me, I have become obedient from the heart… Romans 6:17. Yet rebellious tendencies still exist in me! Oh Lord, all of me, for all of You!
    One day everyone will truly bow to You and honor You as supreme. Phil. 2
    2nd Corinthians 10:3-5 also came to mind in reading this.

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