LINK: Matthew 19
Matthew 19:1-12 -- Mark 10:1-12
Matthew 19:13-15 -- Mark 10:13-16 -- Luke 18:15-17
Matthew 19:16-30 -- Mark 10:17-31 -- Luke 18:18-30
Jesus touches on three major topics in this chapter.
1) Marriage and Divorce - When the Pharisees asked Jesus if it's okay for a man to divorce his wife, they were asking a loaded question. The Pharisees of the time were divided on this issue, with one faction not allowing a man to divorce his wife unless she had committed adultery and the other faction allowing a man to divorce his wife for any (or no) reason. They wanted Jesus to choose sides. Jesus cut right to the chase, though, and simply addressed the issue of marriage and divorce. God never intended for divorce to exist but for marriage to be permanent in all cases. However, because of the sinfulness of man, divorce happens. So God commanded Moses that when it does happen, the woman should be provided for and protected through an official certificate of divorce. She could not simply be abandoned.
The disciples understood that Jesus was disallowing divorce and responded, with "Wow! Maybe it's better not to marry at all then!" (Katrina's paraphrase) Jesus answered that, yes, for some that is the better option.
2) Children - Some people were bringing children to Jesus that he might pray for them. The disciples didn't want Jesus to be bothered with children. But Jesus said to let them come. He valued the children and wanted to bless them.
3) Wealth - In the final section, a rich man came to Jesus and asked what one thing he should do to obtain eternal life. He was a man who kept the law but knew something was missing. Jesus, knowing the man's attachment to his wealth, told him to give up his wealth and follow him. But the man didn't feel he could part with his wealth and walked away. Jesus told his disciples that it is very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. I think this is for two reasons. One, we tend to become very attached to our possessions and are afraid to give them up in order to serve God. And two, the wealthy don't readily see their need for Christ.
Peter asked Jesus if there was any reward for giving up material possessions to follow Christ. Jesus assured him that there will be reward enough. But if his focus is on getting rewards, there will be little reward. The one who gives up thinking of rewards and just follows Jesus will receive the most abundant rewards in the end.
This is a rich chapter with much to think about. Depending on where you are in life, one section may hit you more than the others. Carefully read what Jesus has to say here and meditate on it.
Ultimately our willingness to truly follow Jesus is the most important thing. If we do that, everything else falls into place. Let's examine our hearts today and weed out anything that hinders us from obeying Jesus.
Lord, you are truly the only one worth following. You have the only offer of forgiveness and salvation. You promise to meet all our needs. You don't promise that it will always be easy, but you do promise that you will never forsake us. Help us today to consider our discipleship and be willing to give up all to follow you. Amen.