3rd May 2023
Read - Mark 10:1-12 (focus v3-5)
Message Alan Burke
Remember where we are, 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?” 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.
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). The more liberal view that a man could divorce his wife for ‘for any and every reason’ was the prevailing view in the day and in a patriarchal society this made women especially vulnerable.
Knowing fine well why they had asked the question, to test him and to set him up 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.
Jesus in response instead of giving them a direct answer asks them a question; 3 “What did Moses command you?”
I love this answer of Jesus, for he simply takes them back to the word of God, he directs them to the place where all their beliefs as well as ours should be founded upon and agreeable to. Sadly I’ve often been in conversations with believers that as soon as you do that it is conversation over. Truth be told it may as well have been because the Pharisees do not answer according to Scripture they answer according to what both liberals and conservative Jews agreed on, that a certificate was to be issued to the woman and she was to be sent away. It’s a half answer at best.
The certificate they talk about comes from Deuteronomy 24, where Moses permits divorce. If a husband divorces his wife she is to give her a certificate, it was a law that was a concession because of the hardness of hearts of the people of God, again sin is the issue it always is in divorce. The certificate was required so that the woman could remarry but they have ignored everything else that was said in Deuteronomy 24 because they did not agree on the outworking of that.
Today what I want to get you to think of as we close is this, hopefully you will understand the reason for it. How do you learn to drive? How do you learn to bake a cake? How do you learn to build a house? How about to learn all these things we focus on the mistakes of other people, watch hours of YouTube videos of car crashes, taste lots of cake and just judge other peoples, and go look round old abandoned houses that are falling down? Of course you don’t, you start with the basics, focus on them, repeat, repeat, repeat.
These Pharisees were focusing on the end not the begging the worst possible outcome, yes some marriages will fail but rather than focusing on the failure the key is to understand the purpose in making marriage work in the first place, to make it a success is what they needed to understand.
Jesus in his response then makes it clear the cause of divorce, why it was allowed, it was because of their hardness of heart that Moses wrote the law pertaining to divorce. Just because something is permitted does not mean that it is a sign of approval. Divorce was permitted, it was permissible because of the hardness of the human heart. The reason why divorce was permitted was because of the sinful heart of man, of men and women.
Why to marriages fail, why is there a provision in scripture for divorce, well it is down to that hardness of heart, that sin that affects us all. Divorce is but a symptom of our sin. Just because divorce is permissible doesn’t mean that it should be the normal, it should especially among the people of God be abnormal.
Q 36 What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’ s love, peace of conscience, (Rom. 5:1–2,5) joy in the Holy Ghost, (Rom. 14:17) increase of grace, (Prov. 4:18) and perseverance therein to the end. (1 John 5:13, 1 Pet. 1:5)