Summary: Jesus discusses marriage, divorce and remarriage, covered by His grace and love. 1. God's Aspiration, 2. God's Allowance, 3. God's Acquittal.
The Grace of Marriage
A common mistake in Bible teaching is when the teacher/preacher takes a passage and presents it as if it were all God says about a subject. Proper Bible study of a subject must take what all the Bible says about a subject and recognize what each passage adds to the overall subject.
This passage today is one of the sections and topics, according to Dr. Bob Utley, professor of Theology at East Texas Baptist University, that preachers and teachers are most guilty of teaching as the complete word. Although the topic today could be studied from the scripture for weeks, we will try to conclude with a summery of the overall truths of scripture.
I am certain we will fail to strike a complete balance, but that is our goal. May God add to that which we minimize and minimize that which we overstate.
Our goal with this subject as with any other we address is to uphold God's righteous standard while recognize the all pervasiveness of His grace and love.
Mar 10:1 “And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.”
Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem for His last week was obviously a busy one. As if on a final tour, Jesus tried to touch as many lives as He could on the way to His death. This also brought up opportunity for His critics to attempt to trap Him again. However, God used every trap to reveal His heart to us.
Mar 10:2 “And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’"
This was not a question that required a simple "Yes or No" answer. According to Josephus, the secular, government writer who often sheds light on the times and culture of 1st Century Christian life....The two leading Hebrew teachers about divorce were Hillel (a liberal rabbi) and Shammai (a conservative rabbi).
The question involved the Mosaic Law. Deu 24:1-4 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.”
A clarification; the certificate of divorce, which is defined as an accusation and evidence in writing, had to be taken to a priest, who would investigate thoroughly and rule according to righteousness (when the system worked). One of the benefits of this type of approach is that it stopped people from seeking a divorce in a rash of anger and took time. This time was beneficial in many couples cool down and reconciling.
Hillel viewed the "indecencies" as anything that displeases the husband. He said if the husband didn't like how the wife's coffee tasted, kick her out.
Shammai taught that adultery was the only "indecency" that was grounds for divorce.
This question was presented to Jesus to divide his followers, but there may have even been a more devious purpose.
Herod had killed John the Baptist because of his tough teachings on marriage and his accusation of Herodias, Herod's sister-in-law and new wife, as an adulteress, in chapter 6. This question may have been used to anger Herod and Herodias and bring severe opposition to Jesus and His followers. (The Christ of the Gospels, J. W. Shepherd).
The question, however, was not asking what Jesus taught about divorce and remarriage. It was, "Does God recognize divorce at all?"
Mar 10:3 “He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’"
Jesus had a point to make, and the best way to make a point is to start at a starting point. Here, Jesus directed the Pharisees to the source of their misunderstanding.
Mar 10:4 “They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.’"
In answer to His question, they said divorce was allowable for a man if he writes up the certificate of divorce. Ref. Deut. 24:1-4.