Summary: This is a sermon about relationships, with an emphasis on the example of Jesus and the little children.
NOV. 26, 2006
From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?”
Jesus said, “What did Moses command?”
They answered, “Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her.”
Jesus said, “Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”
I MISSPOKE LAST SUNDAY, I THOUGHT THIS SUNDAY WAS THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY NEXT SUNDAY. TODAY WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE IN THE GOSPEL, AND FILL IN A COUPLE OF THINGS WE JUMPED OVER LAST WEEK. THE FIRST IS RECORDED IN MATT. AND MARK BUT NOT IN LUKE, THE NEXT IS FOUND IN ALL THREE.
WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS THIS MORNING. I HAVE A PLAQUE THAT SAYS, THE BEST THING A FATHER CAN DO FOR HIS CHILDREN IS TO LOVE THEIR MOTHER.
THE FIRST OF THE TWO ISSUES THAT JESUS ADDRESSES IN THIS AREA OF FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS IS THAT OF MARRIAGE. SOME PHARISEES ASK HIM, IS IT LAWFUL FOR A MAN TO DIVORCE HIS WIFE? THEY ASK THIS QUESTION B/C THEY WANT TO PUT JESUS ON THE SPOT. IF HE SAYS NO, THEY WILL SAY, MOSES SAID IT WAS ALRIGHT. IF HE SAYS, YES, THEY WILL SAY THE LAW SAYS IT ISN’T. THEY ARE ONCE AGAIN TRYING TO PUT JESUS IN A CORNER ON A HOT BUTTON ISSUE.
HE RESPONDS BY SAYING TO THEM, WHAT DID MOSES COMMAND? ANSWER THE QUESTION WITH A QUESTION. THEIR RESPONSE, MOSES PERMITTED DIVORCE AND SEND HIS WIFE AWAY. LET ME GIVE YOU SOME BACKGROUND ON THIS. A MAN COULD SAY, MY WIFE DOESN’T COOK VERY GOOD, SHE DOESN’T KEEP A CLEAN HOUSE. SHE DOESN’T DO ALL THE THINGS I TELL HER TO DO, AND A HOST OF OTHER THINGS, AND ALL OF THOSE WERE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE. THE WOMAN DIDN’T HAVE A LEG TO STAND ON. THE MAN COULD SIMPLY SAY, I AM TIRED OF BEING MARRIED TO HER, AND I WANT SOMEONE NEW, AND THAT WAS LEGAL.
JESUS ANSWERS THEM, MOSES DID THIS B/C OF THE HARDNESS OF YOUR HEARTS. NOW LETS SEE WHAT GOD INTENDED. JESUS QUOTES SCRIPTURE, IN THE BEGINNING GOD MADE MAN AND WOMAN. ONE MAN ADAM AND ONE WOMAN EVE. HE MADE EVE FROM ADAMS SIDE, CATCH THIS, NOT FROM HIS FOOT THAT SHE SHOULD BE BENEATH HIM, NOT FROM HIS HEAD THAT SHE SHOULD BE ABOVE HIM, BUT FROM HIS SIDE THAT SHE SHOULD TAKE HER RIGHTFUL PLACE, AT HIS SIDE.
THEY WERE TO LEAVE AND CLEAVE. THE TWO BECAME ONE FLESH.
LISTEN TO THIS, GOD SAID, THEY ARE NO LONGER TWO BUT ONE. THIS IS MULTIPLICATION. TWO PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER DON’T JUST DOUBLE WHAT ONE CAN DO, THEY OFTEN DO MANY TIMES MORE THAN ONE PERSON. IN SOME PLACES, THEY TAKE A MAN AND WOMAN AND PUT THEM TOGETHER ON A CROSS CUT SAW, AND SEE HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER, DO THEY WORK WITH EACH OTHER OR AGAINST EACH OTHER. ONE PERSON WORKING A CROSS CUT SAW DOES VERY LITTLE GOOD, TWO PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER DO A LOT.
THE STORY IS TOLD OF A MAN WHO WANTED TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL. HE WAS FIRST SHOWN A ROOM, THERE WERE A BUNCH OF PEOPLE SETTING IN THE ROOM, A DELICIOUS AROMA CAME FROM THE POT ON THE TABLE. ATTACHED TO EACH PERSONS ARMS WAS A VERY LONG SPOON. BUT THESE PEOPLE WERE STARVING TO DEATH. IN THE SECOND ROOM, HE AGAIN SAW MANY PEOPLE, THE POT WITH THE DELICIOUS FOOD, AND PEOPLE WITH LONG SPOONS ATTACHED. THESE PEOPLE WERE WELL FED AND HAPPY. AFTER HE LEFT THE ROOM IT WAS EXPLAINED TO HIM, THE FIRST ROOM WAS HELL, THE PEOPLE WERE SO CONCERNED WITH THEMSELVES THAT THEY COULDN’T THINK OF FEEDING THE OTHERS. THE SECOND ROOM WAS HEAVEN, THEY WERE SO CONCERNED WITH THE OTHERS THAT EACH PERSON WAS FED. THAT IS HOW A MARRIAGE NEEDS TO WORK. WHEN I PUT MY WIFE’S NEEDS BEFORE MY OWN, WHEN HER WELFARE IS OF GREATER CONCERN, THEN, BOTH OF US ARE HAPPY. ONE MAN ONE WOMAN IN AN EXCLUSIVE LIFETIME COMMITMENT IS THE IDEAL FOR MARRIAGE THAT GOD INTENDED.
NOW THE STICKY PART, WHAT ABOUT DIVORCE. IS IT EVER RIGHT? SOMETIMES, IT CAN’T BE AVOIDED. THERE ARE SITUATIONS WHERE ONE PERSON MAKES UP THEIR MIND, AND THEY REFUSE TO CHANGE. THERE ARE INSTANCES OF ABUSE, AND A PERSON NEEDS TO GET AWAY TO SAVE THEIR LIFE.