Mk. 12:1-12-Jesus tells a parable about a vineyard...it is a teaching about Himself and how the Jewish leaders will mistreat Him. In the parable…the man who built the vineyard represents God, the vineyard is Israel, the slaves represent the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist, and the son that they killed is Jesus. The destruction of the vineyard speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.). The Jewish leaders became angry because they knew that Jesus was making a reference to the way that they were treating Him.
Mk. 12:13-17-Jesus responds to a trick question from the Jewish leaders concerning the paying of taxes (for an explanation see February 2, Matthew 22:1-22). They tell Him that they know that He would “defer to no one”…meaning that He is not susceptible to being flattered. However, their very statement is in itself an attempt to use flattery to affect His ego…to cause Him to lose focus and respond in a self-confident, thoughtless manner without giving careful consideration to the question.
Mk. 12:18-27-Jesus responds to a question (Levirite marriage) from the Sadducees concerning the resurrection (see February 3, Matthew 22:23-46).
This story line would make some sense in a variety of cultures. Levirate marriage (Deut 25:5-6; compare Gen 38:8-26) and widow inheritance (see Belkin 1970; as in Ruth 3:12-13) perpetuate the name of the deceased and serve to provide for widows in many traditional societies where women cannot earn sufficient wages for sustenance (for example, Mbiti 1970:188-89). Yet many ancient hearers would assume a woman who had outlived seven husbands was dangerous (Mart. Epig. 9.15; t. Sabbat 15:8). The Sadducees borrow the story line of a woman with seven husbands from the popular Jewish folktale in Tobit 3:8; they want to illustrate the impossible dilemmas they believe the doctrine of resurrection creates.
For additional information on Levirate Marriage see:
Prayer: Lord, you told the Sadducees that their problem was that they did not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God. Please, Lord...help me to understand with clarity what You have said in the Scriptures and to understand how to have Your power to fulfill and keep them...as certainly as Your power can raise the dead.