173. Jesus teaches about marriage and divorce: Matthew 19:1-12, Mark 10:1-12
Jesus is in "Judea beyond the Jordan" which is Perea (#22 on the map).
The religious leaders tried to trap Jesus with a controversial issue: divorce. There were opposing positions on this issue among the religious leaders. The followers of Hillel, the elder believed you could divorce for any reason. The followers of Shammai were strict observers of the Law and believed you could only divorce your wife for sexual misconduct.
Jesus did not get involved with the debate between the two camps. He went all the way back to Genesis where God says what He had joined together, no man was to tear apart because they were one flesh (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9; Genesis 2:24).
This prompted them to ask why Moses allowed it in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. I wrote about this in Year One of the Bible Book Club:
This chapter contains a key passage when doing a study on divorce and remarriage. Divorce was widespread in the ancient Near East, but the Old Testament always refers to it as a tragedy (Mal. 2:16). These commands were given to regulate what was already a practice in the culture. A remarriage to a former husband would be like a legal adultery and this was detestable to the LORD. The whole purpose behind this law was to discourage frivolous divorce. Jesus also interpreted this passage and implied that divorce was outside the divine ideal for marriage (Matthew 19:3-9).Moses allowed divorce because people's hearts were hard, but God's intention for marriage goes back to Genesis (So much begins at Genesis. That is why I feel it imperative to study it closely.). Jesus had already proclaimed that the only reason for divorce was marital unfaithfulness (Event #54, Matthew 5:32). The Greek word for "marital unfaithfulness" is porneia which is a broader term than the word for adultery which is moicheai. It means the "relentless, persistent, unrepentant, lifestyle of sexual unfaithfulness (different from a one-time act of illicit relations)" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Matthew 19:1-12). Some might see this as only serial philanderers would be eligible for divorce, but one might make the case that any kind of porneia (like addiction to pornography) would be cause for divorce.
Regardless, Jesus stressed the importance of the marriage relationship. The disciples concluded that maybe it would be better to remain unmarried, but He said this was only for those to whom it was given. God has already said that marriage was good (Genesis 2:18) and Paul later said that marriage is better than immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2).
I want to add that Paul gave further reasons for divorce in 1 Corinthians 7 with desertion by an unbelieving spouse being the main one.
Children were not a waste of Jesus' time and were important to Him. These children ranged in age from babies to preteens. In the Mark and Luke accounts He said we were to receive the kingdom with child-like faith.
175. Jesus speaks to the rich young man: Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 18:18-30
The rich man thought he could "do" something to gain eternal life. Jesus has just said we must receive the kingdom like a helpless child (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17), but this man wanted to know how he could help himself to get there.
Jesus shook this man's false perception of what is good. Nothing we do is going to reach the perfection of God's goodness. Not even keeping five of the ten commandments dealing with human relationship that Jesus quotes in this passage. (The Mark account has a "do not defraud" which is not one of the commandments, but some commentators believe it is a paraphrase of the 10th commandment in Exodus 20:17 or a supplement to "you shall not steal" and "bear false witness.").
Even if the man had kept them all, he did not have total devotion to God because he loved money more (Matthew 19:22; Mark 10:22; Luke 18:23), breaking the first commandment to have no other gods before him. The Jewish mindset was that a man's riches were an indication of God's blessing. So Jesus, when lovingly asked the rich man to give up all his wealth and told His disciples that it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom, was speaking counter to everything they had ever understood about God. The camel (the largest animal in Palestine) through the eye of a needle comment related to a Jewish proverb of the time that depicted the impossible.
This made the disciples wonder if they could even enter the Kingdom, and Jesus responded by indicating that it is impossible to enter by human effort, but God can make it possible by His grace (Job 42:2; Ephesians 2:8-10)!
177. Jesus predicts his death the third time: Matthew 20:17-19, Mark 10:32-34, Luke 18:31-34
He had already announced that He was to die and rise again on two previous occasions (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23). He was now on the road to Jerusalem, and He reiterated this point. This is the first time He spoke of His betrayal, condemnation, mocking, scourging, and crucifixion.
178. Jesus teaches about serving others: Matthew 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45
The fact that the mother of the sons of Zebedee made the request have led some to believe that she was the sister of Mary because only a close family relationship would prompt such a bold request. Some also believe her request was at the urging of the two sons! Jesus instructed them that honor in the kingdom of heaven came with the price of suffering, and it was not His to grant but the Father's. This teaching illustrates that the disciples had not yet grasped that "the way up is down" and that the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). You cannot have honor without humility. It also illustrates an ambitious desire for position rather than having the heart of a servant.
179. Jesus heals a blind beggar and his companion: Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43
This miracle was performed as Jesus left the city of Jericho (Matthew 20:29) though He first encountered the men as He approached it (Luke 18:35).
The Matthew account has two blind beggars, and the Mark and Luke accounts have just one. According to The Harmony of the Gospels, "the second and third gospels single out the more vocal of the two" (p.170). These blind beggars called Jesus the Son of David revealing that they knew that He was the long anticipated Messiah. The religious leaders were blind, but these blind beggars could see. By the authority of God, He was able to heal them of their physical blindness.
The Daily Walk, October 7, 2008
A TV commercial shows a husband hunched in front of the TV set engrossed in a sports program. From the kitchen comes the nagging voice of his wife, "Jim, when are you going to paint the house?" To which the beleaguered husband replies, "When they have a sale!" Suddenly, the commercial break announces the "paint sale of the century." Jim's wife immediately chimes in, "Did you hear that?" To which Jim responds, "Zzzz."
Three times Jesus told His disciples of His approaching death and resurrection. . . . Yet Jesus' arrest and execution caught them completely by surprise because they didn't have ears to hear.
Are you an active listener? As you read today's section, do it slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully, interacting with what you read. Then as God speaks to a need of yours, HEAR what He says, and HEED it.
Help us to really understand and hear You today. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.