Summary: Jesus can bless marriages and heal divorces.
A Messiah's Look At Divorce
Text: Matthew 19:1-12
1. Illustration: "Saying you believe something or merely belonging to a church, unsurprisingly, does little for marriage; but the more you are involved in the actual practice of your faith in real ways -- through submitting yourself to a serious body of believers, learning regularly from Scripture, being in communion with God though prayer individually and with your spouse and children, and having friends and family around us who challenge us to take our marriage's seriously -- the greater difference this makes in strengthening both the quality and longevity of our marriages. Faith does matter, and the leading sociologists of family and religion tell us so" (W. Bradford Wilcox, National Marriage Project, University of Virginia).
2. On of the great things about the Bible is that it deals with life. One of the greatest aspects of life is marriage, but one of the greatest tragedies of life is that some marriages end before God intends them.
3. When it comes to marriage and divorce Jesus tells us...
a. God's Preference
b. God's Concession
c. God's Alternative
4. Read Matt. 19:1-12
Proposition: Jesus can bless marriages and heal divorces.
Transition: First we must understand...
I. God's Preference (1-6).
A. God Made Them Male and Female
1. Matthew begins this chapter with "When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick."
a. These two verses mark an especially significant transition in Jesus' ministry.
b. For about two years He had been preaching, teaching, and healing in Galilee in northern Palestine.
c. For the last two months He had concentrated almost entirely on private instruction to the Twelve.
d. To mark the end of each of Jesus' major discourses Matthew used a phrase such as when Jesus had finished these words.
e. In the present passage, the phrase these things refers to the Lord's discourse on childlikeness recorded in chapter 18 and given to the disciples just before He left Capernaum.
f. At the end of that discourse, He departed from Galilee. His ministry in that region is recorded in Matthew 19-20, and as always, by demonstrating His power and His compassion, Jesus' healing miracles attested to His divine, messianic credentials (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
2. As usual, the devil had to try and throw a wrench in every good thing that Jesus did, and as usual his favorite tool in doing this was the Pharisees. Matthew tells us, "Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: 'Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?'”
a. Their purpose in asking this question was plain and simple: they wanted to trap Jesus and get Him to say something they could use against Him.
b. They wanted to discredit Him in the eyes of the people so that He would lose His popularity and be easier for them to destroy.
c. This time their test question was well thought out, carefully calculated to place Him at odds with Moses, the great giver of God's law.
d. For many centuries divorce had been a volatile issue for debate among the Jews.
e. As women came to be treated almost like merchandise to be bought, sold, or traded, divorce inevitably became common.
f. The Pharisees themselves debated the grounds for divorce implied in Deut. 24:1-4: the school of Shammai, predominant in Jesus’ day, argued that the passage allowed divorce only if one’s spouse was unfaithful; the school of Hillel, which eventually won out, said that a man could divorce his wife if she burned the toast (a later rabbi of this school added, “Or if you find someone more attractive”!) (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
g. This was not a debate over the legitimacy of divorce; it was recognized by everyone. They question was on what grounds for divorce (Horton, 397).
3. Jesus begins His answer by reminding them how ignorant they were when it came to Scripture. He said, “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’"
a. Jesus point here is that if they had a better grasp on what Scripture taught about marriage this wouldn't be such a problem.
b. By quoting from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24, Jesus was saying, "Your argument is not with Me, but with God."
c. His words must have stung the proud, self-righteous Pharisees, who considered themselves to be the supreme authorities on Scripture.
d. In the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:27, both male and female are in the emphatic position, giving the sense of "the one male and the one female."