Matthew 19:1-12, August 9, 2020
Marriage and Divorce … and Forgiveness
18:21-22 Seven times? With all the talk on forgiveness and seeking God’s will, Peter sought to be a star pupil when he said seven times as Jewish custom at the time as in the Talmud said to forgive up to three times, but not on the fourth. He had to be surprised when Jesus said, “No, not seven times, but seven times seventy times.” What this really means is unlimited times.
18:23-35 Unforgiveness. The man who was forgiven so very much could not forgive a little. What happened to him? Jesus says the same will happen to us unless we forgive from our hearts.
19:1-2 Matthew tells us Jesus healed those that followed Him. Mark (10:1) tells us He taught them.
19:3-9 Marriage and Divorce. To make sense of this we need to first go back to 5:31-32 and from there back to 5:28-30. All too often men in Israel would divorce their wives over anything. Why? So, they could marry another that they lusted after. And then they would do it again. It is what Jesus said here that led them to try to tray Him with their questions.
19:3 Divorce was a contentious issue in Jesus’ day. There were two primary schools of thought on divorce. The most strict and unpopular was that of Rabbi Shammai. The popular and incredibly permissive was that of Rabbi Hillel. Both referred back to Deuteronomy 24:1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house,
Guzik: The school of Rabbi Shammai understood that uncleanness meant sexual immorality, and said this was the only valid reason for divorce. The school of Rabbi Hillel understood uncleanness to mean any sort of indiscretion; even to the point where for some rabbis, burning a husband’s breakfast was considered valid grounds for divorce.
19:4-6 Whose opinion was correct was essentially the question put to Jesus. It was a trap He did not fall for. Instead He turned the discussion to scripture quoting Genesis 1:27 and 2:24. Jesus makes it clear God is the one who has authority over marriage. It was instituted by God, not by man.
19:7 The Moses question. Now the Pharisees thought they had Him trapped with the word command.
19:8-9 Jesus’ reply trapping them. Permitted and pornia. Jesus let them know divorce was permitted, not commanded and even them only for pornia, sexual immorality. God never commands divorce, but He does permit it. If you want to understand God’s position, read the book of Hosea.
Guzik points out The Pharisees thought that Moses was creating or promoting divorce. In fact, he was controlling it.
Moses’ rule requiring a certificate of divorce was to protect the innocent party – the wife. The hardness of their hearts here really refers to their hardness against God and His desire for marriage. Again, refer to Hosea.
19:10-12 Better not to marry? Jesus’ disciples understood what Jesus was saying about marriage and divorce. Such a commitment was not only between a man and a woman, but also included God, so marriage could not be entered into lightly as if knowing If things don’t work out I will simply divorce her. Clearly what had been the most popular viewpoint on divorce – for any reason – would not stand for those who followed Jesus.
This was so important Jesus brings up the example of eunuchs.
Bottom Line: What kind of a man would you be in a marriage? A man who fears God or a man who chases after his own desires no matter what. The key to marriage was forgiveness and following what God had decreed.
Proverbs 19:10a The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom
There was a time when To fear to commit evil, and to hate what is abominable, is the mark of manliness