Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Friday, May 11, 2012

Matthew Chapter 19

In chapter 19, we find out that Jesus has left Galilee and is now in the region of Judea. Verse 2 says that great crowds of people were following Him and He was healing them. It is into this scene that the Pharisees come with a question intended to trick Jesus into giving a response that had no popular answer. In Verse 19:3 they ask Him "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?"
Jesus answers and says:
"Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning , made them male and female, and said for this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (19:4-6)

 I wanted to quote the exact words of Jesus here because , in their day (as in ours) these words were completely ignored. In  verses 19:5-6,  Jesus is calling us to view our marriages as something that has to be preserved.  We need to view our marriages the same way that the Lord views them. Jesus endured the cross for His bride, the church. (Rev. 19:7). If things are hard, consider endurance, obedience and prayer.
At some point in our Christian life with Christ, endurance has to take over. Christ endured (read Heb. 12;1-3) In her book LOVE HAS A PRICE TAG, Elizabeth Elliot said "He Himself endured a cross and thought nothing of it's shame because of the joy. A very different story from the one which would have been written if Jesus had been prompted by the spirit of our own age;Don't Just endure it, think about it, talk about it,share it, express your gut level feelings, get in touch with yourself, find out who you are, define the problem, analyze it, get counseling, get the experts opinions, discuss solutions, work through it"   E.L. . Jesus endured,He prayed. He was also obedient to the call on His life. He was determined to please God and do what God was asking of Him. In John 4:34 Jesus says" My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. If you think that it was easier for Him to endure through His trials than it is for you read Isaiah 53 and Hebrews 5:7-8.
I am asking you here to consider your commitment to your marriage by putting it up against the word of God. God says that you are one flesh. Let no man separate.   
This was a very unpopular idea in Jesus's day, as it is in ours. In verse 19:7, the Pharisees counter Him by asking why Moses had set up the system for divorce that was in their very scriptures? (Duet. 24:1-4) Jesus tells them that Moses permitted it because of their hardness of heart, but from the beginning this was not God's way. In all fairness to the Pharisees, there were 2 teachers of the law who held and taught 2 different views on divorce at the time. Rabbi Hillel, taught that a man could divorce his wife if he ceased to love her or if he saw someone he liked better or if she burned his dinner. While Rabbi Schammai taught that he  could only divorce his wife for some  offense against chastity.
Jesus goes on to put the topper on it in verse 9 by saying that remarriage without sexual immorality, was considered adultery. This was as unpopular then as it is now. Look at the reaction from Jesus's disciples in verse 10.
In verse 10, they in essence say  "well if this is the way it is, maybe it's better not to get married". I find this  a shocking statement to  come from the disciples. But then I realize that they were a product of their culture, as are we. There will be Christians who will read this and not want to accept what the word of God has to say about divorce.
In verse 19:11-12 Jesus answers them kindly I think, considering their hearts and beliefs on the matter.
He goes on to address their thought that it might be better not to marry.
He says some are born unable to "marry", some have the choice taken from them by forceful men and some feel that they can serve God better without marrying. According to Eerdman's, at the end of verse 19:12, He is giving His blessing to the idea that  the disciples think that they might be able to better serve God without marrying. Of course the real intention of their comment about marriage doesn't get addressed. 
 Please don't look away from these verses without examining your own marriage and your own heart on this subject. Your marriage was meant by God to be an example of the eternal love that God has for us. In God's eyes, it is permanent. I pray everyday that God will give the couples at our church an eternal perspective in their marriages. I pray for obedient, enduring hearts. Our marriages should be a glory and a praise to Him. After all, we do have "the way, the truth and the life"(john 14:6)  in our marriages..

Verses 13 and 14 are interesting in that, it seems the disciples didn't learn anything from the last time that children were the focus of the moment.  Verse 13 says that the children were being brought to Him to be touched and prayed for and that the disciples forbid it. Obviously, Jesus wanted the children to come to Him. He says, don't keep them away, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Then the bible says that He lays His hands on them and then he departs (19:15) Interesting that it doesn't say He prayed for them. I have ideas on that. But, what do you think?

I want to finish by just making some observations on the end of the chapter.In verses 19:16-26, we have the story of Jesus's encounter with the rich young ruler. In Mark 10, we are told that he ran up to Jesus and knelt before and asks Him what he can do to go to heaven. The young man uses the word for "good" that was giving honor as unto God Himself. This is why Jesus asks Him why he used that word in his greeting. Jesus doesn't wait for the answer to that question but goes on to say that if he wishes for eternal life he must keep the commandments. Here is where we get the clue that this young man has missed the point! HE SAYS "WHICH ONE?" Notice that when Jesus speaks again He recites some of the common commandments but does not start with the first and most important commandments that deal with a man's relationship to God. I am the Lord Thy God. You shall have no other God's before me. You shall not worship any other God. (exodus 20:1-2). Jesus then gives him the  test. He tells Him to go and sell all His possessions and give the money to the poor. Of course the young man failed miserably because his one true love, his God, was his money.
Just something to think about. 

 This chapter is also full of well known passages. Even people who would say that they don't know anything about the bible,  will know some of these verses and the ideas conveyed here.  There is also the verses about Jesus saying that the apostles will sit on 12 thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel (19:28) We didn't discuss this but I know that I have been in conversations with other Christians where someone said "where is that verse?"So we will include it in our memory tool.

So as with Chapter 18, we will use 19 words to remember this chapter. Divorce,hard for a rich man to get to heaven,the apostles will judge  the 12 tribes of Israel.****19 words*** I know that this takes practice, but don't discount the help of the Holy Spirit in your learning. Pray and read, practice. Pray, read, practice and when you need to remember you will!!! Be faithful. Start reading chapter 20. 

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