Today's verses are Mark 12:19-23: "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." The Sadducees were the religious liberals of their day. They did not believe in the law of Moses. Thus they didn't believe in the resurrection from the dead. They saw Jesus as a threat to the power they held in the temple and their collaboration with the Roman government. They possessed great power and didn't want to lose it.
Therefore, like the Pharisees, they attempted to entrap Jesus with an exaggerated, theological question rooted in the law of Moses about the resurrection from the dead, both of which they didn't believe.
The question is essentially this: if a man is supposed to marry the wife of his deceased brother (Deuteronomy 25:5,6), and this occurs seven times, which husband will be hers in heaven?
We will examine Jesus' answer tomorrow. For today, let me ask this question: have you encountered people who love to debate the fine points of theology but never do the weightier aspects of faith? They never engage in deep prayer or worship. They never fight the fight of faith in difficult times. They never care for the needs of the oppressed and poor, locally or globally. They will argue apparent theological or Biblical inconsistencies to great degrees, but never involve themselves in the practical application of faith.
This was the Sadducees. I can only imagine Jesus rolling his eyes in disgust with this kind of nonsensical question.
Why? It's because theological debate is often for people with full stomachs, like the Sadducees. They had great wealth and power but no heart for God. It's a way to hold God at arm's distance and never deal with the demands he places on our lives. It allows us never to be forced to deal with the hurts of the world.
Is this you? I pray not. It is certainly not bad to enter into theological debate. The truths of the Bible need to be defended. But there comes a point when debate must end and faith begins. There comes a point when debate must end and obedience must begin.
Trust and obey God. This is the essence of a true, Biblical faith.