Today we are reading from Mark 10: 1-12:
He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
One of the keys to understanding what Jesus is saying here about marriage and divorce is found in verse 2 – the Pharisees came to Jesus to test Him. They were not coming to Him for true knowledge or coming to sincerely ask a question to grow, they were coming to test Him, to trick Him, and to try to turn the people against them.
The teachings of scripture call us to a lifelong marriage covenant. We see this, the two become one. But we see that Moses allowed for a divorce, contrary to the original intent. What had happened, instead of the husband and wife becoming one flesh, marriage for them had become a property arrangement. For many in that culture, marriage was about ownership, power, and assets.
So, thus when the man divorced his wife, he would leave her destitute. While legal according to the man-made law of the day, it was against what God desired.
It is important for us to understand what marriage was in that context, it wasn’t what we currently have now. They would have thought us crazy for marrying for love (outside of Song of Songs)! Marriage was for them, by a large a legal commitment, that also had a legal way out of.
Jesus is saying, no, that is not what it is. It is a moral commitment. It is a life commitment. It is a laying down of one’s life. That’s what Paul’s teaching in Ephesian is so revolutionary. Wives submitting, husbands laying down their lives.
For the Christian, for the follower of Christ, marriage is more than an accumulation of assets with an easy escape clause. It is hard work. It is a challenge. It is sanctifying. It is a humbling and laying down of yourself for a greater beautiful covenant.
Married, single, divorced, whatever, know this, you are loved and valued by an amazing God. A God who calls us to invest in every relationship we have. Today let’s take every covenant we are part of seriously, especially if we are married, and let’s seek to give God the glory of it all.
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