1st May 2023
Read - Mark 10:1-12 (focus v1-2)
Message Alan Burke
It’s 2023 and it is about time that the church moved with the times. There is some of you thought you’d never hear those words from me but they are not my words but words that I have heard time and time again. Yes it is 2023 and the human race is as sinful today as it was when I was a wain and don’t give me any nonsense about how things were better then, things were different but the problem remains we are sinful and it was in Jesus day. The reason why I start like this is that as we come to this teaching on divorce it is easy to think that divorce is a modern phenomenon because it is not, while divorce rates have increased hugely since the divorce reform act of 1969 divorce has always been an issue. The reason why is simple and it is revealed when we take a look in the mirror we are confronted with the problem, its not that we have lost our good looks, that there is another grey hair or wrinkle but that we are sinners.
This week as we look at this teaching of the word of God I am in no doubt that it will touch on some of your lives, it has the potential to bring back painful memories, bring past hurts to the forefront of your mind, even past sins. I’m also aware that there will be some of you who won’t like this teaching of Jesus and will reject it, but again I warn against that attitude, because if we pick and choose the bits that we like and the bits that we don’t like, then ultimately the word of is worthless to you for you have elevated yourself into the place of God and rejected his truth. Here the teaching of Jesus on divorce may be hard but it is for our best.
Once more the crowds are coming to Jesus, the Pharisees come up to Jesus and the reason why is we are told to “test him”. Then they ask, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
On one level it seems like a fairly innocuous question, but the answer of Jesus had the potential to be explosive, that would send shockwaves rippling out. The Pharisees are not there because they want an answer to their question, not really, they already have their minds made up on the matter of divorce and this is a test. Depending on how Jesus answered this had the potential to send him on a collision course with Herod, for the Pharisees were hoping that the same end that John saw would come to Jesus. How Jesus answered the question of the Pharisees was critical.
What we may miss after all because it is 2023 is how divorce was perceived at the time. There in Jesus’ day were two prevailing views, one was that a man could divorce his wife for ‘for any and every reason’ (this was the question of the pharisees in Mt 19:3) and the other was well more conservative to say the least which meant that divorce was only to be granted for indecency (Deut 24). To give you an idea of what that meant, any and every reason well if the Mrs burnt the toast well that’s grounds for divorce, on the other hand if you took the more conservative view it wouldn’t matter if there was domestic abuse, constant fighting, arguing, divorce was only permissible if there was indecency.
Can you guess which view was prominent in Jesus day, I’m going to tell you anyway it was the more liberal view that a man could divorce his wife for ‘for any and every reason’. In a patriarchal society this made women especially vulnerable, divorce in the day was rife and it is the reason why Herod was in such a messed up relationship and when John called him out about it he gets his head chopped off (Mk 6:14-29). The Pharisees with their question were trying to trap Jesus, he could have ended up being on a collision course with Herod and seen himself arrested, put in prison or even executed. On the other hand if Jesus had expressed views that differed from that of the Pharisees then they would have used that against him.
We will get into more of this passage as the week goes on but what I want to leave you with is the problem we all have, the issue, it confronts us daily and it’s called sin. We have a hardness of heart and because of that marriages fail, sadly even among believers marriages fail. Marriage as God intended as Jesus reminds us is where two become one, our hardness of heart, our sinfulness, our failure does not change what it was given to us for and God’s ideal.
Q34 What is adoption?
Adoption is an act of God’ s free grace, (1 John 3:1) whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. (John 1:12, Rom. 8:17)