Created for Community
Lord God, You love us as a perfect husband loves his bride and will never give her up. Help me to remember that today.
Read MARK 10:1–16
Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
The Little Children and Jesus
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
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.
“We should seek to share with deep compassion in the suffering of those whose marriages have failed, and especially of those whom we cannot conscientiously advise to seek an escape by divorce” (John Stott, 1921–2011).
This example of Jesus’ uncompromising teaching is hard for us to hear today. No doubt most readers will know someone who is divorced and remarried; many may be in this position themselves. When a friend’s son told his family that he was the only one in his school class who lived with both his parents, this was no great surprise since it reflects our society. Marriage is no longer an expectation; divorce is accepted and remarriage would be hoped for. All of this seems to clash with Jesus’ teaching here, which offers instead a high view of sex and marriage based on God’s intentions in creation (Gen. 1:27; 2:24). Often, for pastoral reasons, different churches have different positions on this, and it would be a heartless Christian who, because of this passage, did not have compassion and understanding for those whose relationships have ended (see also 1 Cor. 7:10–15).
However, is the debate between Jesus and the Pharisees quite as clear as it first appears? If it were simply about whether or not divorce was permissible, there would be no discussion. Jesus’ response suggests, instead, a debate over the interpretation of the Mosaic Law (Deut. 24:1–4). Indeed, there is evidence that there may have been disagreement between Jewish teachers over whether a man could divorce his wife for “any and every reason” or for only biblically proscribed reasons (Matt. 19:3). Reading between the lines, it seems that Jesus sides with the more restrictive view, which actually offered some protection for women in a society where being divorced made things difficult.
What this all points to, as in the previous passage, is Jesus’ deep concern for the maintenance of good relationships before God. This applies to family relationships as much as to the church of all God’s people.
“On the one hand, I want to communicate that our God is a God of second chances and of forgiveness.” “On the other hand, I want people to understand that the principle of lasting marriage is to be upheld.” How can you hold these two diametrically opposed beliefs about marriage at the same time?
PRAY Lord, I pray for Christian marriages. May they be strengthened and healthy, a witness to the world of the difference Jesus Christ can make.