According to public opinion polls, car salesmen, television and radio personalities, and politicians all rank in the top ten least trusted professions. Certainly not everyone in these professions is dishonest—but the nature of the job means that it is very tempting not to tell the truth. In fact, being honest might cost you a sale, a sponsor, a viewer, or a vote.
Those who tell the truth in any profession or area of life may face negative consequences. That was especially true in Jesus’ life and ministry. The religious leaders of Christ’s day frequently did not appreciate what He had to say about their attitudes and practices.
Mark 11:27–12:44 describes a series of confrontations between Jesus and the religious authorities of His day. The chief priests, the teachers of the law, elders, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians are all mentioned. In other words, Jesus found Himself in conflict with every major religious group of His day. Many of these groups—like the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians—exercised political as well as religious influence. This did not deter Jesus from speaking out against them. He was determined to speak the truth no matter what the consequences.
The Pharisees were religious legalists who emphasized scrupulous adherence to the traditions of the rabbis and were widely admired by the populace. The Sadducees who were smaller in number and did not enjoy such popular support, but they had more political influence than the Pharisees. The Sadducees differed theologically from the Pharisees and rejected both the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead and the oral tradition of the rabbis. They only accepted the Law of Moses as Scripture. The Herodians supported the kingly dynasty of Herod. Although neither a religious group nor a political party, they were keenly interested in the political implications of Jesus’ teaching.