The other major Jewish sect during the first century was the Sadducees. They were very active in both religious and political issues. They were typically wealthy, aristocratic, members of the priestly tribe and generally maintained the temple during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. High priests Annas and Caiaphas were Sadducees.
Both Sadducees and Pharisees were part of the 71 member Sanhedrin which was in fact headed by the prevailing high priest.
Sadducees were in nearly direct opposition to the theology of the Pharisees. They were firm adherents to the Mosaic Law and the Pentateuch, but rejected the traditions of the Pharisees. The Sadducees were worldly minded and believed in complete moral freedom during one’s life and rejected the doctrine of afterlife.
“…For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection – and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.” Acts 23:8
Jesus warned his followers to beware of the doctrine of both Pharisees and Sadducees.
“Then Jesus said to them (disciples), ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees’…Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6, 12
The Sadducees and Pharisees did however, have several things in common. When John the Baptist initially confronted the Sadducees he classified them together with the Pharisees.
“But when he (John the Baptist) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’” Matthew 3:7
The term ‘brood’ is synonymous with offspring and the term ‘viper’ refers to snakes and serpents which meant that John called them sons of the devil.
The major common issue that the Sadducees shared with the Pharisees was their hatred for Jesus. That can be easily understood seeing that both Jesus and John considered the Sadducees and Pharisees to be of the devil.
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane He was initially brought before Annas and then to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin.
“…Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none.” Matthew 26:59-60
Subsequently two false witnesses did come forward and quoted Jesus as previously saying that if the temple was destroyed He would build it up again in three days. Such testimony was just the opening that Caiaphas was looking for.
“…And the high priest answered and said to Him (Jesus), ‘I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’”
“Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said…’”
Caiaphas immediately responded, saying:
‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses?…What do you think?’”
“They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death.’ Then they spat in His face and beat Him…” Matthew 26:52-67
The Sanhedrin had done what they set out to do. The next step was to convince the Roman government that Jesus should be put death.
“When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” Matthew 27:1-2
On the day when the Passover Lamb was killed, the conversation between the Jewish leaders and Pilate was concluded.
“Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he (Pilate) said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’ But they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar!’ Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified.” John 19:14-16
Therefore, the Sadducees, as hypocritical as the Pharisees, through deceit and blasphemy, unaware they were little more than puppets, were implementing that part of God’s master plan for Jesus which He had established from the foundation of the world.
To be completed next week.