Monday, October 5, 2015

What God has Joined Together

 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, [1] 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:1-16 (ESV)
“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
So is the kingdom of God received, by Christ taking you into his arms and blessing you, laying his hands upon you and forgiving you your sins. They couldn’t do anything, how much they knew was also doubtful, they couldn’t make a profession of faith. There is no guarantee that they are going to live a perfectly Christian life or witness to Christ with their life. There is only Christ gathering them to him, laying his hands on them, blessing them. This is how we are to receive the kingdom of God. So simple, and yet so easily messed up by our hard and jaded hearts.
The Kingdom of God, a restoration to that relationship that we had with God before the fall, before sin entered our world to cause our death, hardening out hearts to one another and to God until which time they just stopped working. We see how corrupted the world has become as the Pharisees ask Jesus about divorce.
Is it lawful to divorce. “As Paul says in the 10th chapter of Corinthians, all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful but not all things build up.” Contrary to popular belief nothing Jesus says here changes a dot or tittle concerning the lawfulness of divorce. He knows what Moses has written. He knows that divorce is often necessary in this world. I do believe it cuts down on the murder rate. It’s not a light or easy thing, and it was never meant to be. Yet God tells Abraham to send Hagar away. He commands the Jews upon their return from Babylonian exile to put away their foreign wives, the wives that were teaching them to worship other gods, and in essence to divorce him. God allowed and still allows for divorce.  To this day it remains something necessary in this world, where husbands often beat wives, where sinners sin against sinners and cheat and steal and murder, abandon their responsibilities to others and commit adultery. All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.
So Jesus points to something else. Sure Moses allowed for divorce because the hardness of your heart. But why is your heart so hard? There was no question for the
 Pharisees as to whether or not divorce was lawful, it was rather a question of when it was justified. And in Jesus day it wasn’t hard to see the fall out of massive divorce. You had the problem of broken families. More than that you had daughters constantly returning home to live as burdens on their father’s incomes because there was nowhere else for them to go, and typically they would find it hard to marry again. And then women had limited means of employment outside the home in that age. If they weren’t housewives and mothers, if their fathers were no longer around to take care of them, they became the kind of women who would wash the feet of Jesus with their tears and dry them with their hair. The question wasn’t is it lawful, but when for the Pharisees, can you send her home if she isn’t a good cook? Perhaps when you are bored of her?
Jesus points us to the kingdom as it once was. Yes Moses allows for divorce. But was that the most decisive thing he wrote concerning marriage? Or was it this, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” God has a purpose with marriage and it isn’t to use, abuse and discard. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… In the same way husbands shall love their wives as their own bodies. As your own bodies. As your own self that is, your own flesh, your own being. Marriage is a gift from God, a one flesh union to be cherished, to help complete you, a relationship in which two people grow together evermore united in the face of hardship. And so it is that it even becomes a model for the relationship Jesus has with the church, with you and I, and this is why he can say let the little children come on to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
Jesus knows the law of God inside and out. Jesus knows this law by which we think we stand or remain in the kingdom. A show of strength and pride. It is in the nature of man to think we stand in this by our own two feet. That we enter by making a commitment to live as Christ would have us to live. Perhaps by not divorcing etc. How could we commit our children to that? I mean that is often the objection to infant baptism, is “don’t you see how many of them leave the church? Who don’t remain Christian?” Though I have to say, the records on all that whatever they may be don’t show themselves better in this world for those who wait for some age of accountability.” No if it is up to us and how we live we’ll lose the kingdom every time. Lawful to divorce? We give Christ reason to give us the bill of divorce with almost every breath we take. But it was precisely that reason for which he gave up his life for you, for your spouse, for your ex-wife and your ex-husband, but also why he gave up his life for your children, because he knew if this relationship was going to work, he could not depend on us to make it right or keep it right, but would have to forgive us all our sins, and wash us clean, sanctify us to be his bride through the washing of the water with the word. And there in baptism he would join us with him, even as little children who don’t stand a chance in this world of sin, but there God would join us together and make us one flesh with Christ and what God has joined together he will not let man separate so that we would enjoy this restored relationship with him for all eternity.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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