In this section Matthew 19 – 20:16 – Jesus deals with 3 topics; marriage, children and property. Hmm, this is the neighborhood in which we usually live.
Teaching About Marriage / Divorce
1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.
- Jesus is on the move
2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
- Always the large crowd and Jesus responds to their needs.
- This is another sign that his kingdom has arrived – look who Jesus is hanging with;
- Those who have been cut off from the worship life – the unclean, the down and outers.
- He not only takes their sin upon himself, but also sets them free.
- These healings are object lessons and not a prescription to ask “Why didn’t you heal my son?”
- What is the biggest object lesson for the Christian? The Resurrection!
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
- Note that they come to “test him” – not to learn out of curiosity.
- “For any cause?” It is said that a man could divorce his wife for burning the toast.
- They want to trap Jesus with a loophole – something that relieves them of their sin. “Ah Ha! Caught you teaching against God’s Law!”
4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
- Holy smokes! He takes them to the scriptures. “Jesus, we can all read the scriptures, but we want to know what is Right… or, we want to know what you think is right.”
- But Jesus will not be “loopholed”
- WC Fields when observed reading the Bible said he was “looking for loopholes” as were the Pharisees … even as we do.
5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
- I think this also goes to the proper parts fitting together.
6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man separate.”
- Jesus adds his own divine commentary to the Genesis passage.
- Jesus is saying, ‘so whose sermon are you going to listen to? The sermon of your own mind (and don’t we do that most of the time?) or the sermon of the creator of all things?
7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
- They have their own sermon to preach – they want Jesus to Amen their sermon.
- In real life, how many going to the pastor for a family problem, perhaps an impending divorce think they are being judged vs being given God’s word.
- Will we listen to the word of God or are we just looking for the pastor to amen our side of the story?
- The keys get mixed up – the binding key gets loosened and the loosing key gets bound.
8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
- I wonder if Jesus smiled at them and said “yes, Moses did make that allowance – do you know why? Because you are sinners.
- They probably think the divorce allowance was because they we righteous and they deserved a way out – – no, Sinners.
- From the beginning – Go back to v.6 “let no man” – is Moses God or man?
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
- This is what the people hear and then say “the pastor / the church are judging me. We don’t want to be a part of a church like that.
- But … until we recognize our sin, forgiveness cannot be granted.
10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
- No – marriage is messy, just like the church because both are fully populated with sinners.
- Marriage has obligations and much denial of self.
- Marriage is a divine institution and is not man made. The Church will continue to come under pressure over the definition and practice of marriage
- So what do you confess and how would you go?
- Jesus said deny yourself and pick up your cross – In America I do not think we have a clue what Jesus means – but we may be called on to find out.
11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
- It is important here to remember the original question – ““Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”
- One cannot approach this text from the question the Pharisees are asking – under what circumstances is divorce OK – because this is not a text that answers this question.
- The Pharisees would never accept his answer – so his answer is really to the surrounding crowd.
- The answer – God’s design for marriage is simply a permanent joining of the two – one man, one woman as a husband and a wife, which has been described as one flesh.
- When is it lawful to divorce? Jesus pretty much answers NEVER!
- But we live in a twisted world.
- But to the question of “it is better to not marry” – well that is limited to a select few – only those to whom it is given.
- 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”
- The “onlys” here seem to be “eunuchs”
- What is a eunuch? Castrated – some who do it as an obligation to God – perhaps some with no libido.
Let the Children Come to Me
13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people,
- Folks bring their children to Jesus to be prayed for by Jesus
- The disciples hear previously about Jesus and children, and they still rebuke the people and play the role of bouncer.
- “Folks, please keep your children away from Jesus, he has more important things to do.”
- Don’t we do the same thing when we keep the children out of the Divine Service and put them in a separate classroom? How many times I have heard, “well the children will cause a disturbance and someone who really needs to hear the message will miss it.”
14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
- Jesus sets them straight. The kingdom of heaven is specifically for the children – are you “a children”?
- “do not hinder them” – Acts 8 uses the same word for hinder by the Ethiopian “what should hinder me from being baptized?”
- In a Lutheran service, this verse or the corresponding one in Mark are read at a baptism.
- What does this verse have to do with baptism?
- Jesus is telling them “I have come for the children too. Do not prevent children from entering the kingdom – How dare you!!”
- Why do some people / churches refuse to baptize their babies?
- They don’t sin? They are “in” based on their parent’s faith? They need to choose on their own? There is an Age of Accountability?
- What is said about the age of accountability? I think we find it right there in scripture – there is an age of accountability – but the clock starts at birth. Psalm 51.
15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.
- Jesus does what he came to do and moves on.