THE LIFE OF CHRIST
last lesson, we looked a couple of Parables in Luke 18. In this lesson, we will
begin by looking the events recorded in Matthew 19 and Mark 10. We will begin
with the first 12 verses of Matthew’s account, which are also recorded in Mark. I will be
adding in extra details that each account provides.
Matthew 19:1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished
these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of
Judea beyond the Jordan. 2
And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.
Mark’s account adds more details:
Mark 10:1 And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was
accustomed, He taught them again.
had finished speaking these parables that we looked at in our last lesson, He
and His disciples leave Galilee and go to the region of Judea beyond the
Jordan, which Joshepus called “the Peraea.” This area was known for its beauty. As we combine
the two accounts, we learn that that multitudes followed Jesus, and they would
gather around Him. As usual, Jesus would heal people, and He would use these
opportunities to teach people as well.
Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is
it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" 4 And He answered and said to
them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning
'made them male and female,' 5
"and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be
joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 "So then, they are no
longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man
separate." 8 He said to them, "Moses, because
of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from
the beginning it was not so. 9
"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery;
and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."
I also want to read part of Mark’s account since part of it adds more
Mark 10:2The Pharisees
came and asked Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
testing Him. 3 And He answered
and said to them, "What did Moses command you?" 4 They said, "Moses permitted
a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her." 5 And Jesus answered and said to
them, "Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this
precept. 6 "But from the
beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.' 7 'For this reason a man shall
leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 'and the two shall become
one flesh'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 "Therefore what God has
joined together, let not man separate."
As we have
come to expect, anytime people started gathering around Jesus, the Pharisees
always seemed to show up because they did not like Jesus having such a
following. So, they would do their best to try and ask Him questions that might
take away from His popularity. Though Jesus has taught several times on the
topic of divorce, these Pharisees ask Him about it. The reason I think they
asked Him about it was because there several schools of thought on this matter.
Perhaps, they thought if Jesus chose one of them, that this would divide those
who following after him.
There were three schools of thought based on the Mishnah from a section
called “Gittin.” Notice what we learn from what WVBS says about this:
Shammai school of thought - taught that a man could
not divorce his wife unless he found her to be unchaste.
Hillel school - taught even if she burned the food a man could divorce his wife
(see Deut 24:1).
3. Akiba school -
taught if a man found one fairer than his wife (“no favor in his eyes”), he
could divorce her.
school of Shammai agrees with Jesus’ teaching. Mark
chapter 10 approaches divorce from the woman’s viewpoint. Divorce was allowed
in Judaism, and it involved a simple process in which the person being divorced
from would receive a certificate (called a get). There was no thought about the
sanctity of the marriage relationship, or the consequences of this action. This
certificate, which was placed into the woman’s hands, read “Go, thou art free
to marry any man” (Gittin 9:3). The certificate
protected her from being charged as an adulteress if she should remarry. (WVBS)
of these schools of thought come from:
Deuteronomy 24:1 "When a man takes a wife and
marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has
found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts
it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,
interpretation was based on the view of what is meant by “some uncleanness in
her.” Though Jesus’ answer agreed with the school of Shammai,
Jesus was not really agreeing with any of these schools of thoughts. Instead,
He bypassed them all and simply taught what God’s Word said on the matter
because whether any of these schools of thought were right or wrong, the best
thing is to go to God’s Word. Jesus makes it clear, that in the beginning it
was never intended for man to divorce His wife, and it was only permitted for a
time under the Law of Moses because of hardness of their hearts. Please
understand that God allowed this to take place, but it was not commanded
because as Jesus points out, the original marriage law was for man and women to
become one flesh and no one is to separate that union, hence the expression,
“until death do you part.”
This teaches us that God has a
universal law when it comes to marriage and divorce which applies to all
people. This is important for us to comprehend because some try to
twist verse Mt. 19:9, which says.
19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except
for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever
marries her who is divorced commits adultery."
Some try to say this verse only applies to Christians, thus
non-Christians are not affected by Jesus’ Words. However, verse 9
makes it clear that it includes every single person. Notice it says “whoever
divorces”. The word “whoever” means every single person Christian or
non-Christian. Please note the following example.
“whoever murders will be in danger of the
Clearly we can see the word “whoever” applies to
everyone. To further illustrate this point, take a look at the
following companion passage of Mat. 19:9.
Matthew 5:32 "But I
say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual
immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is
divorced commits adultery.
It should be easy to see that Jesus is stating that whoever
divorces his wife for any reason except for sexual immorality/fornication
causes her to commit adultery and whoever marries a woman who is divorced
Another point that needs to be made here is from the word
“except”. When Jesus used this word, it automatically eliminates all
other reasons for getting divorced and being able to remarry. Please
understand that only sexual immorality/fornication can constitute a biblical
divorce where the innocent party can remarry without living in adultery. Let’s
examine another passage that clearly shows the exclusive nature of this word
John 14:6 Jesus
said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through Me.
It is easy for us to see that the only way to the Father is
through Jesus. If we can see the exclusiveness of this passage, then
we should be able to see it in Mat. 5:32, 19:9. When Jesus
tells us the only exception that will allow someone who is divorced to remarry
scripturally is by sexual immorality/fornication, then we need to accept that
no other way exists.
I don’t know of any faithful Christians who would ever try
to add another way to the father in John 14:6, so what makes some
Christians think they have the right to add another way for remarriage
in Mat. 5:32, 19:9?
There are also some who would argue that Jesus was only
reinterpreting Moses’ Law and that Mat. 5:32, 19:9 doesn’t apply
to Christians today. However, there is a major problem with this
view because under Moses’ Law an adulterer was supposed to be put to death.
Deuteronomy 22:22 " If a
man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall
die -- the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away
the evil from Israel. (See also Lev. 20:10;
Whatever law Jesus was talking about certainly did not
belong to Moses’ Law because He simply calls for the adulterer to be put away
and not killed. Therefore, Jesus was teaching something that applies
to everyone today and He was not simply reinterpreting Moses’ Law. Besides, He
makes it clear that He is talking about the law of marriage that was in effect
before the Law of Moses
Some also like to say that Mat. 5:32, 19:9 doesn’t
apply to non-Christians. Consider the following
example. Let’s say a person gets divorced and remarried 10 times for
some other reason besides sexual immorality/fornication. Now if Mat.
5:32, 19:9 doesn’t apply until someone becomes a Christian
then this would mean the person from our example could remain married to
their tenth mate when they become a Christian. Then once they become a
Christian they would be held accountable to Mt. 5:32, 19:9 from that
In other words they would never have to repent of their
adulterous marriage they were in. This view has some major
problems. I have already shown that “whoever” in Mt. 5:32,19:9 includes both Christian and
non-Christian. This view also implies that it would be impossible
for a non-Christian to be held accountable for adultery or
fornication. However, the Word of God emphatically states there are
sexual immoral people of the world:
1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral
people. 10 Yet I certainly
did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or
with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters,
since then you would need to go out of the world.
We can see that non-Christians were guilty of adultery among
many other sins before they became Christians:
1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not
inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor
covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners
will inherit the kingdom of God. 11
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Another great example to show the universal law of divorce
and remarriage can be found in the following verses:
Mark 6:17 For Herod himself had
sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias,
his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. 18 For John
had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your
What law is John talking about? It can’t be the
Law of Moses because Herod was a Gentile and thus Moses’ Law would not apply to
him. The only reasonable explanation is that his actions violated
God’s universal law of marriage that started with Adam and Eve as expressed by
Jesus in Mat. 19:8. Both Christians and non-Christians have the same set
of rules, to say otherwise would mean that God is showing partiality to the
non-Christian, which we know that He does not:
Romans 2:11 For there is no
partiality with God.
Some think that they can purify an unholy
marriage by being baptized. They come to this conclusion because they think
baptism will wash away all their sins and make them a new creature allowing
them to start over anew. Is this true? Will baptism purify an unholy marriage?
The key to answering this question is found in
the basic principles of becoming a Christian. We must hear the Word
(Rom. 10:14-17), believe (Jn. 8:24), repent (Lk.
13:3), confess (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized
for the remission of sins (Acts2:38). A person cannot have the remission of
sins unless they have obeyed all these steps.
For example, if a person did not believe, then
it would be pointless for them to repent, confess or be baptized. If a person
is not willing to confess Jesus as Lord, then they will remain lost as Jesus
Matthew 10:32 " Therefore whoever confesses Me before men,
him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is
Similarly, if a person refuses to repent, they
would simply be getting wet at their baptism and would still be hopelessly lost
in their sins.
Repentance is the key to answering our question.
True repentance is not merely feeling sorry for what you have done, instead it
involves changing what you are currently doing, and you must conform to the
will of God as we read in:
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to
salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces
death. 11 For observe this
very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What
diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation,
what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!
In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Matthew 21:28 " But what do you think? A man had two sons,
and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' 29 "He answered and said, 'I
will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 "Then he came to the
second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he
did not go. 31 "Which of
the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The
first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax
collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your
reasonable service. 2 And do
not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect
will of God.
For example, if a man steals a car and then he
feels sorry about it, but he continues to keep the car, he has not repented.
Now if this man feels sorry for what he did and he takes the car back to the
owner and asks him for forgiveness, this is true repentance.
Let’s examine one more example. A homosexual
couple attends a gospel meeting and they are ready to become children of God.
They are excited and they are ready to be baptized, but they think it’s
acceptable to remain in their homosexual lifestyle. Can they become children of
God if they refuse to repent of their homosexuality? Will baptism purify their
sinful relationship? Most Christians would boldly say, “No, they cannot become
a Christian until they turn away from their sinful relationship.”
It is easier for people to see this principle
when it is applied to a thief or to homosexuality, but the same principle
applies to those who try to justify their adulterous marriage through baptism.
Jesus makes it clear that if a person remarries
for any other reason than sexual immorality or the death of your mate, you are
in an adulterous relationship (Mt. 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3). The sin of adultery is no different from
the sin of the thief or the sin of the homosexual couple. If a person is living
in an unholy marriage, the only way that they can become a Christian is by
turning away from their adulterous marriage. If a person is already a Christian
and they have allowed themselves to enter an adulterous marriage, the only way
that they can be forgiven for their sin is to end their marriage.
I would recommend that you read Ezra 9 and 10
because you will see that the children of Israel had married foreign women and
had children with them. You will see that God did not approve of these
marriages and they had to send these women and the children they had with them
away. Though this is an Old Testament example, it shows just how serious God is
about marriage being right.
So, baptism will not purify an unholy marriage.
You must repent by ending your unlawful marriage and remain single for the rest
of your life. Some will find this difficult to accept, but we must look beyond
our own emotions and compassion and faithful accept the perfect will of God.
Notice what the Lord tells Isaiah.
Isaiah 55:8 " For My
thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the
LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the
earth, So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Anytime we try to change the Word of God to fit
our wishes, it’s because we have a lack of faith and trust in God. We would all
do good to take the advice of the following verses:
in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge
Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be
wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. 8 It
will be health to your flesh, And strength
to your bones.
Marriage is wonderful institution given by God (Gen. 2:18-24) and He does not want
it to be broken (Mat. 19:6). It is a lifetime
commitment (Rom. 7:1-4). When a husband and a wife live their lives based
on the Word of God, they will have a beautiful marriage (Eph. 5:25-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-2,7; 1 Cor. 7:3-5; Titus 2:4). We need to make sure that we choose the right person for
marriage without rushing into it. Just as we struggle in our relationship with
God, we will struggle in our relationship with our mates. We have to learn that
marriage is a give and take relationship, and we must be willing to compromise,
but we should never compromise God’s truth or twist it to make things work out
like we want them to.
When it comes to the topic of divorce and
remarriage, it is very challenging to uphold what God’s Word says about
especially if you or someone you love find themselves living in adultery. This
teaching is so hard that some cannot accept it and they either ignore it or
they find someone who will teach a different view on the topic so they can feel
good about living in sin. Some will turn away from God. With such a high divorce rate in our country,
it certainly makes this one of the hardest teachings Jesus ever gave because of
what it involves. So, I in no way say this is an easy teaching to uphold, but
if we trust in God’s wisdom, we will uphold it.
We know that Jesus answers the Pharisees
question about divorce, but Marks account gives us a little more information:
Mark 10:10 In the house His
disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them,
"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against
her. 12 "And if a woman
divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
Some time later, Jesus and His disciples are in a house. At this
time, His disciples ask the question again about divorce. So, Jesus tells them
the same thing, just with less detail, and He does not mention the exception of
sexual immorality/fornication. However, you will notice that this time, He
mentions the woman doing the divorcing instead of the man, which shows that a
woman or man can do the divorcing.
One reason for the difference between two accounts could be because
Matthew’s account was written with the Jew in mind, and if any divorcing was
done it was done by the husband. However, Mark was written with the Roman or
Gentile in mind. Though divorce was usually done by a man, it was also done by
women, which is probably why the woman is mentioned as divorcing in Mark’s
Next, His disciples say:
Matthew 19:10 His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his
wife, it is better not to marry."
11 But He said to them, "All cannot accept this saying,
but only those to whom it has been given: 12 "For there are eunuchs who
were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were
made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for
the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him
Basically, His disciples understand how hard this
teaching is, that they can to conclusion that it would be better not to marry
than to be stuck with someone forever that you did not care for. Again, this
stresses the importance of making sure to the best of your ability that the one
you marry is going to be the one for life.
I found some commentaries to be silent on the
remaining verses about the example of the three different kinds of eunches, and also found some strange thoughts regarding this
example, but the one I liked the best, is the one I am going share with you, which is from WVBS.
But only those. It
is applicable only to those who find themselves in the situation He was
addressing. There are those who may not wish to marry, and there are those who
are happy with their mates. This is not a relevant issue with them.
there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there
are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made
themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to
accept this, let him accept it.”
verse begins with the Greek word gar, which is the word for. Therefore verse 12 continues the
discussion about marriage and divorce and remarriage. There are two ways to
approach verse 12.
Speaking literally about eunuchs. Jesus says there are three types of eunuchs.
Such a position does not address its relevance to the previous discussion about
marriage and divorce. Therefore, this position is to be rejected.
To understand “eunuch” to be an example. The word “for” lends the evidence to
this argument. Jesus uses the example of eunuchs to show the rigidity of His
statement. He has never before discussed eunuchs, and to do so now does not
bear on the issue of divorce.
are three types of eunuchs:
1. Those who were born that way.
This is someone sexually impotent from birth, a person who finds himself in a
situation that cannot be changed.
There are some who are not ever going to be married. They, perhaps like the
Apostle Paul, choose to live the single life.
2. Eunuchs made that way by men.
It was not uncommon in Biblical times for Gentile governments to select strong
young men from the general populace for the purpose of castrating them and
placing them into the service of the queen. They were castrated so they could
not have sexual desire for the queen. These men did not choose to become
eunuchs, they were made eunuchs by others.
A eunuch is one who is incapable of having a sexual relationship. If one
decides to divorce his wife (but not for sexual unfaithfulness), she has been
made a eunuch (figuratively, not literally). Not by her own choice, but by
someone else. Jesus said: “he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery”
(Mt 5:32). Therefore, she has been forced into a celibate life. This is a very
difficult situation. But that does not afford her the opportunity to have a
sexual relationship with someone else, any more than a eunuch made that way by
men could be sexually active.
3 Make themselves that way for the
sake of the kingdom. They chose to be celibate for the
sake of the kingdom.
Here is a person who, perhaps because of his own unfaithfulness, was put away.
So, because of his desire to be saved, does not remarry. Why? Because he
forfeited his right to marriage when he chose to be unfaithful. Therefore, he
makes himself a eunuch (not literally, but figuratively) for the sake of the
12 should not be separated from the context of 1-11. The point about eunuchs is
an illustration of verses 3-11. The New English Bible translates this verse as
follows: “For while some are incapable of marriage because they were born so,
or were made so by men, there are others who have themselves renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
need to remember the reason why Jesus teaches what He does. He is not saying something that
is harmful for us, but this is here because of the good it will bring to our lives.
If our lives are pure then the church is more pure and it functions better.
There are some lessons to be learned from Ezra 10. God had them separate from
the wives and children that were not of their own. That was for their own good.
By considering the disciple’s response, we should learn to take marriage
seriously. We should not enter into marriage carelessly or with little thought.
It is a life-long commitment. We need to teach our children more about the
life-time commitment and the intent of marriage.
As we come to the close of this lesson, I hope you have found it helpful
and truthful. Nothing I
can say can take away the sting of such a teaching. If I wanted
to be pleasing to man, I would never teach on this topic, but I must continue
to teach what the Scripture says even if it is one the hardest teaching within
God’s Word. May we all remember, that God is in control and He knows what is
best even if we have trouble understanding it. So, let
us not be like the majority of those who turned away from Jesus because they
could not understand His saying about eating His flesh and drinking His blood
(John 6). Instead, let’s be like Peter who said the following after Jesus asked
the apostles if they were going to leave Him as well:
John 6:68 … "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of
eternal life. 69 "Also
we have come to believe and know that You are the
Christ, the Son of the living God."