PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
READ: Mark 12:18-27
Can God make a rock that is too heavy to lift? Can God make other gods? If God is eternal then who created God? If you believe homosexuality is wrong, then why do you eat shellfish?
If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard questions just like these from unbelievers. While they could be offered from a sincere place, they are usually pretty disingenuous. Jesus faced a similar question in the passage above.
The Sadducees were a religious group that only believed the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) were inspired and rejected the rest of the Scriptures. Since the first 5 books do not explicitly say anything about the resurrection, they rejected that teaching. This is the first time this group appears in the Gospel of Mark, and Mark introduces the Sadducees as those who “say there is no resurrection” (v17) and then immediately proceeds to their rather complicated scenario about life after the resurrection and the levirate law, all designed to trap Jesus in some logical conundrum.
Jesus doesn’t seem interested in dialoguing about the disingenuous question and cuts right to the chase. His response follows a chiastic pattern:
a. You are in error.
b. You do not know the Scriptures.
c. You do not know the power of God.
c.' [The power of God] raises the dead and they become like angels.
b.' [Scripture is cited] in the burning bush passage (which is in the Pentateuch), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is God of the living.
a.' You are badly mistaken.
(Garland, NIV Application Commentary: Mark)
Jesus shows the real issue at play here: they do not know the Scriptures or believe in the power of God. Jesus answers their question, as insincere as it may have been, and does so without dignifying it by getting caught in the weeds.
Similar modern day questions posed by unbelievers or skeptics meant to try to trap Christians should be treated the same way. Don’t get caught in the weeds. Explain what the Scriptures actually say on the subject. Realize that dishonest questioners probably aren’t looking for honest answers. Spending time debating silly questions probably isn’t going to lead people to Christ, especially if they are trying to trap you. But keep a welcomed eye out for the person asking honest questions, desiring to learn. They might be abrasive, but ask yourself what is under that or under their question. Listen to them and offer a calm and respectful response. Showing them where they may not have a good grasp of the text in question or the context in which it was written, from a place of love, can pave a way to a more productive dialogue than arguing about whether Adam had a belly button or not.
1. Have you ever faced any similarly dishonest questions from skeptics or non-Christians? How did you respond?
2. How can you tell a dishonest question from a tough but honest one?
3. What is ultimately the problem people asking such questions have? How can God use you to minister to them?
Memorize: Mark 12:24
“Jesus told them, ‘Are you not deceived because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God?’”