THE TIES THAT BIND
Lord God, you are the one who is, and was, and is to come. As this new year begins, I surrender anew to you.
Read MATTHEW 19:1–12
19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAs a new year dawns, praise God for his past faithfulness and commit to trust him for all that lies ahead.
Reading the possible side effects of the medication you’ve been prescribed by your doctor may make you wonder if you’re better off not taking it at all! However, the fact that some people may experience a reaction doesn’t detract from the fact that it was originally formulated, tested, and given to patients with the intention of making them better. Doctors would not want the relatively rare possibility of a medication causing serious side effects to cause us to lose sight of its proven and established capacity to heal. In the same way, Jesus will not allow the tragic possibility of divorce in a fallen world to negate the fact that God’s intention for marriage is that it is a lifelong, exclusive commitment (vs 4–6).
The Pharisees’ question (v 3) is essentially focused on how far a person might move from God, in regard to marriage, without going too far. Jesus’ response (vs 8,9) declares that the focus should be instead on how near a person might remain to God in working out their marital commitment. The reaction of the disciples to his teaching (v 10) was perhaps tongue-in-cheek, but Jesus uses it to make the serious – and countercultural – point that marriage isn’t for everyone (v 11). In doing so, he endorses a life of celibate singleness as no less a gift than marriage.
What might Jesus’ teaching about marriage mean for you personally, and for your support of others during this new year?
Gracious God, I pray for those who are struggling with their life situation. Impress your way upon them, as they seek your will.
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