Jesus has finally finished His private teaching with His disciples in Capernaum. It’s time to head out again and be about the Father’s work with the rest of the people. Jesus and His disciples left Galilee and went to the region of Judea, beyond the Jordan. As expected, large crowds followed Him on this journey. He healed everyone who came to Him along the way.
When we get to where Jesus is going, some of our favorite pains in the neck show up. Surprise! The Pharisees have arrived. This time they bring up the topic of divorce. And of course they are here to test Jesus. If any of these Pharisees had been on the mountaintop when Jesus taught, beginning with the Beatitudes, they would already know the answer. Maybe they thought His answer would have evolved over time. Let’s jump into our scene with Jesus and see how He handles this group.
Jesus is standing in the middle of a crowd of people on the bank of the Jordan. He just finished healing a woman with a withered arm when a group of five Pharisees start pushing their way into the center of the crowd. Jesus notices them coming, but takes a few more minutes to talk to the woman and tell her how valuable she is to God.
Philip nudges Andrew and says, “Here comes trouble, again. I wonder what they want this time.”
Andrew chuckles and replies, “Whatever it is, Jesus is sure to send them packing.”
The head Pharisee steps right in front of Jesus and clears his throat. Jesus looks him in the eye and says, “Is there something I can do for you?”
“We have a question for You teacher. Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause he sees fit?”
Jesus shakes His head and replies, “I’m sure you know that from the beginning God created man and woman to become one. Eve was originally taken from Adam’s side and presented to him as his companion. From that point on the two became one flesh again. For this reason man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. They too shall become one flesh, just as in the beginning. What God has joined in this fashion, let no man separate them. This is what God intended from the beginning.
One of the Pharisees just to the right of the head Pharisee said, “But Moses said we could divorce. He said the man just had to give his wife a certificate of divorce and he would be free to send her away and continue on with his own life. Was our most revered lawgiver wrong?” A couple of the Pharisees standing closest to the speaker began nodding their heads. The head Pharisee narrowed his eyes at Jesus, as if daring Him to contradict Moses’ words.
Peter, expecting trouble, squares his shoulders as if ready to physically fight to get Jesus away from this group if necessary. Jesus looks over at Peter, recognizing what is on his mind and gently shakes His head. Jesus has got this. He doesn’t need Peter’s physical strength to get Him out of this trap.
Jesus turns His gaze back to the one who asked the question. “Moses was allowed to give you this provision because of the hardness of your hearts. God never intended it to be so when He created man. The only acceptable cause for divorce is sexual immorality. Any man who divorces his wife for ANY other reason and marries another is guilty of committing adultery.”
The Pharisee group begins to withdraw through the crowd, but before they are out of hearing, Andrew says to Jesus, “This is really strict. If this is the case then it is better not to get married at all.”
Jesus replies, “I understand your reservation and not everyone can do as you suggest; only those to whom God gives the strength. Some people are born as eunuchs, some have been made so by the hands of men, and some have chosen to be so for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. This choice is only for the ones who can truly keep this standard before God.”
Peter whispered to Andrew, “I am so glad for the wife I have. I have no reason for divorce, and I wasn’t looking for one in the first place. I also don’t have to be a eunuch.”
“Your wife is a jewel Peter. I don’t know yet what the Master will require of me. I just pray that I am able to commit to whatever He has me do.”
Jesus, it is interesting how the Pharisees asked the same questions You already answered. Thank You that Your answers didn’t change over time. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Father God, when it comes to divorce, You know my history. I am divorced and the grounds for it happened on the other side of the equation. I thank You for Your grace in who I am married to now. You know his story and I believe You brought him into my life. Thank You for giving both of us a fresh start. Thank You for loving me, warts and all.