How about that? It turns out God meant what He said the first time…
- V1 – Jesus is leaving His home base area and heading out for Jerusalem where He knows He will die.
- V2 – I think it’s worth pointing out that Matthew has mentioned a “large crowd” (which a couple of times translated into 4,000-5,000 men plus women and children) in almost every chapter and there are only a few times we know He was alone or with just a few people. I get exhausted just thinking about that many people. The crowd is now following Him to Jerusalem.
- V3 – And not everyone is following Him because they love Him. My ESV says there was a wide range of Jewish interpretations of Moses’ law regarding divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1). They ranged from “She has to be unfaithful” to “If she cooks a bad meal” to “If you find someone else more attractive.” It sounds like the Pharisees are asking Jesus to pick a side.
- V4-5 – Jesus quotes scripture that they should be familiar with. (Genesis 2:24)
◊ Do I know why I believe what I believe about controversial topics?
- V6 – Here’s His interpretation: God said what He meant.
◊ Do I believe God said what He meant or do I bend over backwards to figure out how He probably meant something different.
- V7 – They almost have a legitimate question, but they claim Moses “commanded” it rather than permitted it in specific cases. Whoa, where these guys looking for faults in their wives and claiming they had to divorce them?!
◊ Have I ever looked for fault in someone and used that as an excuse for my unkindness?
- V8 – Just like in the Garden of Eden, sin messed up what was intended to be utopia. Jesus clarifies that Moses allowed, not commanded. My study Bible says God provided laws for the protection of the victims of divorce since people’s sin made it inevitable.
- V9 – This is pretty radical because, according to my ESV, Jesus says you can divorce in cases of immorality but everyone else said you have to. (Remember at this point they were willing to stone someone who’d had an affair. John 8:1-11)
◊ Jesus is still expanding the limits of possible forgiveness (18:21-22). Am I stingy with my forgiveness or do I go to great lengths to extend forgiveness even when I’ve been greatly wronged? (Think of the lengths Jesus went to in order to extend forgiveness.)
- V10 – Wow fellas, that’s a bit of an over-reaction! People must have really relied on divorce as a legitimate way to escape an unhappy marriage back then. Sounds familiar.
◊ Do I consider divorce as a first or last resort? Should it be an option at all?
- V11 – He’s responding to their “joke” in seriousness and saying, Yes, some people are called to a life of singleness and celibacy, but not everyone. Here are three reasons people wouldn’t get married: God created them that way, people made them that way, they chose to be that way so they could better serve God and advance the kingdom of heaven. If this is you, accept your fate.
- V13 – I think it’s interesting that the importance and value of kids is mentioned right after the discussion about divorce.
- “The disciples rebuked the people.” – I’ve always thought this verse showed off the disciples jerkitude. I mean, who doesn’t like kids? But after giving it some thought today, I can see a legitimate concern considering the large crowds and the massive need already around Jesus. He already has to touch all the sick people, if they add all children to the line…well, that’s a whole new can of worms since He wasn’t healing, but blessing. I guess you could call it preventative care.
◊ How do I prioritize the people I choose to serve?
- V14 – Jesus is happy to give them His time to further illustrate our need for humility and simple faith. The irony is that He just said this. (18:3-4)
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?