This is a transition in Mark. The Scripture says he left there (and by there Mark is saying Jesus left Capernaum/Galilee) and went beyond the Jordan – an area beyond the Jordan River. The transition is that Jesus is now beginning to head to Jerusalem, to the cross. He does not stumble into the cross – He Himself gets up, leaves Capernaum and Galilee and begins His journey to the cross. And Luke has chapter after chapter of this time period between Jesus’ Galilean ministry and the cross at Jerusalem. It is about a six month period. Mark gives us less than one chapter. By the middle of chapter 10, Jesus is less than a week from the cross and obviously things begin to happen fast. But for now, the Scripture at hand.
When Jesus gets “beyond the Jordan”, guess who is there to “test” Him once again… or to try and “trip Him up” once again? It is His old foes the Pharisees. And they ask, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife”.
We need to take a moment and understand where this question comes from. Without a doubt, the Pharisees were pretty proud of this question. They had been planning and plotting… to ask it in just the right place.
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?
And Jesus asks them, “What did Moses say?” Moses represents the law, remember? Moses gave the law. They knew what the law said about divorce, and so did Jesus. They were not looking for information here. They knew what it said. They were looking to trap and trip up Jesus. In Deuteronomy 24:1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, he may write her a certificate of divorce and put it in her hand and send her out of his house…”
Jesus says, “He gave you this permission because of your hardness of heart. From the beginning of creation, God created one man and one woman to be husband and wife.”
Gotquestions.org: talks about the parallel with (Matthew 19:3). Jesus answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 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’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6; cf. Genesis 2:24). Jesus then noted that the Law had allowed divorce only because people had a “hardness of heart” and were bent on doing what they wanted anyway. Divorce was never part of God’s original design (Matthew 19:8). As a matter of fact, the last words in the OT on divorce were from Malachi – 2:16 – “God hates divorce”. Divorce was apparently rampant among Malachi’s Jewish audience. God’s response was, “So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” (Malachi 2:16b). What the people needed was a commitment to personal holiness and a steadfast fidelity to their spouses.
God says, “I hate divorce,” not to hurt those already suffering from broken marriages but to reprimand unfaithful spouses. Verse 14 says, “The LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.” The men had been unfaithful to their wives—likely, they were involved in adulterous relationships and divorcing their wives in order to remarry. God’s statement is not a condemnation of those hurt by divorce; rather, it is warning to adulterers who create situations leading to divorce.
And the Pharisees were leading the divorce crazy train. They took the law that Moses gave them which said, “if you find any indecency in her” and like these legalists always did, they added to and applied their own definitions to what God said. They would say, “I want a divorce, and it is not a no fault divorce.” God said, if you find any indecency in her… and boy howdy I have found some indecency in this woman. She smiled at a strange man. And then she burnt my dinner. I know she did that on purpose and I am serving her with this divorce paper, now get out of my house. In that society it was the man’s house and just as the house was the man’s property, so was the woman. We know whose house it is today, in our day, by the number of throw pillows on the couch, but I digress. They would literally say they found indecency in their wives and serve divorce papers for any reason. It had nothing to do with her, it was because they wanted other women. And the divorce was being precipitated by the leaders, religious and otherwise. They were divorcing their Jewish wives to marry pagan women. The last word of the Old Testament was “do not divorce your wives, I hate divorce”. And 400 years later, here we are in this conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees, who want to discredit and destroy Jesus.
When they ask Jesus this question, it was a strategic question for a strategic place. The king of this area where they now was was Herod Antipas. Do you remember that name? One of the sons of Herod the great. Herod Antipas was married, but lusted after his brother’s wife. He took his brother’s wife and married her. Does any of this sound familiar?
This is the same area where John the Baptist told Herod Antipas that it was not right to take his brother’s wife and was executed. SO the pharisees thought that if they could get Jesus to say the same things John the Baptist said, it could cost Jesus His life as well! John McArthur says we cannot comprehend how sinister the Pharisees were.
Jesus recites Scripture. He affirms male and female marriage, one man and one woman created for each other.
Pastor Chris Ritter says:
When Jesus was asked about the technicalities of marriage law, he pointed people back to God’s original design in Genesis 2. The Bible starts with a wedding in Genesis, Jesus’ first recorded miracle is at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the Bible ends with a wedding in Revelation between Jesus and the church. Marriage bears tremendous theological weight in Scripture
In the case of divorce, those of us who allow for remarriage continue to agree with the New Testament witness regarding divorce. Divorce is sin because vows made before God are broken in contradiction to Jesus’ direct command. If churches were asked to perform “divorce blessings,” I imagine that few would. Different ecclesial bodies weigh the scriptural evidence to decide whether divorce, given its universal negative, is something from which one can morally recover. What we don’t do is claim that what Jesus said about divorce no longer reflects God’s will. ~ Chris Ritter
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
It may or may not be a stretch, but since we sort of talked about kids last week – “whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble” I want to tie this to the divorce issue –
Think about kids – they are dependent upon their parents aren’t they? If a kid misses ball practice or dance class, it’s likely because the parent did not take them or allow them to go. But a good parent gets the kids to where they need to be, and not only are the kids dependent upon the parents, but a decent parent loves their children unconditionally. When the kids come up with a dandelion, or an I’m sorry daddy or mommy, does a parent forgive? You know it.
As regrettable as divorce is, is it the unforgivable sin? You know it is not. Do we celebrate it? You know we do not. But does God offer forgiveness and can God bring redemption from divorce? You know He can. SO we do not celebrate divorce, we mourn divorce. And we take it to the Lord and we ask for forgiveness, as we do with all of our human failings.