The Teaching of the King Matthew 16:13-20:34, cont’d.
Matthew 19:1-“Judea beyond the Jordan”…This is the land of Perea (not actually a part of Judea, but within the territory ruled by Herod Antipas)…an area on the east side of the Jordan River (when looking at a map with north at the top it is on the right) that extends from the Sea of Galilee (in the north) almost to the Dead Sea (in the south).
Matthew 19:3-The Pharisees test Jesus on the laws concerning marriage and divorce. The phrase “for any cause at all” was hotly debated between the two primary schools of Rabbis (the Jewish interpreters and teachers of theology). The followers of Rabbi Shammai said that a man could only divorce his wife if he could prove that she was guilty of adultery…that was the only reason. The followers of Rabbi Hillel were much more permissive…allowing divorce for almost any trivial reason (some have even said burning the toast was enough of a reason).
Matthew 19:4-9-First of all, notice that Jesus says that God created them as male and female…and then He proceeds to explain marriage in terms of the relationship between a male and a female. This is a clear argument that God established the covenant of marriage and that He intended for it to exist only between a male and a female…and not between two individuals of the same sex. And, it was God’s intention then (“from the beginning”, :4,8) and still is now that the marriage should last a lifetime. Jesus then says that since God is the one that “joins” (the Greek word means “to yoke together”…a contraction of two words: “sun” means “with”, and “zugos” means “a yoke”) a man and a woman together, it is not up to men to separate them (His authority overrules theirs). But the Pharisees press the point…asking, “Then why did Moses give a command that permitted divorce?” Jesus chooses His words very carefully and says, “Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.” Notice that Jesus makes it clear that this was not God’s choice (“from the beginning it has not been this way”…this is not what God intended). But, “Moses permitted”…in other words, God has not changed His mind about the matter, but has allowed Moses to implement a procedure to deal with a marriage in which case adultery has already occurred. In no way does this change the sanctity of marriage and God’s intention that it should last a lifetime. But, in the occasion where a spouse has already committed adultery…divorce is allowed. This is the only time identified in this passage when divorce is an acceptable practice. If it happens for any other reason…it leads to adultery when the spouse marries, again. The disciples are overwhelmed at the thought of being married and not being allowed to divorce for any other reason. At this point, I see the humor of Jesus. His next statement is, “Well, I have to admit that marriage can be difficult. So, if you’re going to honor God…you’ve got to make one of two choices. First, if you think that it would just be too much for you to commit to a life-long marriage…you can always choose to become a eunuch. Some are born that way. Some are made that way by their masters. But neither of those apply to you. So, it would have to be your choice to become a eunuch…for the kingdom of heaven, of course. Or second, you could just make your marriage work, the way that God intends. What’s it going to be, fellas’?”
Matthew 19:13-20:28-Teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 19:13-15-The Inhabitants of the Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 19:13-15-The disciples probably thought that Jesus had far more important things to do than to sit down with these children. But Jesus reminds them that His very purpose was to draw people to Himself…and that there are none who are not welcome. In fact, children portray the kind of delight and openness that is required from those who would come to Him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to always be mindful of your power…and to never forget the great things You have done in the past…so that I will have faith to trust you when I encounter something new or different. Help me to always pray…but also help me to know when it is time to stop praying and act on what You have already shown me. And please, Lord…help me to always be faithful to You…no matter what may be said about me, good or bad.