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Mark 10:1-16
Key Verse 10:9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.
For last three weeks we have been studying the New Year special lectures.
God has taught us his strategy to be successful and prosperous—through
meditation of his word and absolute obedience to his instructions. God also gave
us direction to know Christ more deeply and personally in this year. And last
week God taught us the purpose of his calling on us—to be good disciples and
disciple makers for Jesus.
From this week we resume our study of the Mark’s gospel. Especially in
today’s passage Jesus talks about marriage, one of the most sought after topic by
the young people. Jesus also warns against divorce and its serious consequences
from God’s point of view. May God help us to learn and accept the truth of
marriage based on God’s word today.
I. The truth of marriage (1-12)
Look at verse 1a. “Jesus then left that place and went into the region of
Judea and across the Jordan.” Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem was progressing.
Humanly speaking he could be struggling with the thought of his up coming
suffering and death on the cross. He could have simply avoided meeting crowds
or concentrated on the more important work of disciple raising. But what did
Jesus do when a crowd of people came to him? Look at verse 1b. “Again crowds
of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.” Jesus received
the crowd and taught them the word of God as a habit or practice. They say that a
teacher is a teacher is a teacher. Meaning a teacher starts teaching wherever he
goes. When they are not in the classroom they start teaching to the rickshaw man,
the subji-wala and even their young children. So people sometime avoid meeting
teachers. But Jesus teaching was different from other teachers. He taught the
word of God as a matter of life and death—because the word of God is the seed
of eternal life. Jesus knew that only the word of God has solution to man’s
fundamental life problems and restoration of relationship with God and his
blessings. Therefore even his own up coming suffering and death did not stop
Jesus from teaching the word of God to the crowds of people who came to him.
At that time who came to Jesus and what did they ask? Look at verse 2.
“Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to
divorce his wife?” The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the time and
official interpreters of Moses’ Law. But their purpose of asking a question to
Jesus was neither for academic purpose nor to learn the truth from him but to test
him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” The matter of
divorce in Jesus’ time was as sensitive and controversial and complex as it is
today. Their only motif was to put Jesus in trouble and lose his popularity among
his followers regardless of whether he supported or opposed divorce. Given the
background of the place—the region of Judea—ruled by Herod who had
beheaded John the Baptist because of his objection to Herod’s marriage with his
brother’s wife. Perhaps the Pharisees were expecting a similar outcome for Jesus
as well.
Then what was Jesus’ reply to their question? Look at verse 3 “‘What did
Moses command you?’ he replied.” In stead of giving a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to
the legality of divorce Jesus asked them what the Law of Moses said about
divorce. This was Jesus’ wisdom to handle the Pharisees’ difficult question. But
more than that, it was also his sincere effort to proclaim the truth on this matter in
front of the crowd of people. Look at verse 4. “They said, ‘Moses permitted a
man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’” Based on Moses’
command in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 the Pharisees believed that the Old Testament
permitted Jewish men to divorce their wives and remarry. This shows that
divorce happened frequently among the Israelites even in Moses’ time. So Moses
made the provision of a certificate of divorce to stop arbitrary divorce. The basic
purpose of Moses’ command on this matter was to discourage and stop divorce
among the Israelites and allow divorce only after proper verification of the facts.
Only in the case of marital unfaithfulness was divorced allowed. So we earlier
studied how Joseph had decided to divorce Mary quietly when he doubted her
faithfulness. But the Pharisees interpreted Moses’ permission as God’s desire, as
if God himself allowed and encouraged divorce.
Then what is God’s view on divorce? Look at verse 5. “‘It was because
your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,’ Jesus replied.” Jesus
revealed the Pharisees’ inner thought world by saying directly to them, "It was
because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law." As religious
leaders their thought world should be filled with the joy and the word of God and
shepherd heart for the wandering crowd. Instead, their hearts were hard toward
God as well as toward their wives. At best they could think about divorce and
that divorce is optional. In Malachi 2:13-15, God did not accept the offerings of
the priests. They asked, "Why?" Then God answered, "It is because you have
broken faith with the wife of your youth, the wife of your marriage covenant."
God warned them not to break faith with the wife of their youth, saying "I hate
divorce," says the Lord God of Israel. They were terrible sinners before God
because they were willing to break their covenant with God and with the wives of
their youth.
Because of people's hardened hearts, divorces happen frequently all over
the world. In some community divorce is so easy that one only needs to utter a
particular word thrice no matter whether he is drunk and no matter what the
reason for divorce be. The terrible result of divorce is broken family and
suffering and sorrowful children. Rate of divorce in India is among the lowest in
the world. It is about 12.5 percent compared to the 50 percent rate of divorce in
USA and 70 percent in Russia. In the state of Haryana 5000 divorce occur
annually. According to a report in Times of India on December 31, “the year
2006 saw an alarming number of divorce suits in the court. Some of the reasons
for divorce include snoring, incompatible eating habits, dress sense etc. On an
average, 40 divorce petitions are filed every day in the eight district courts of
Delhi. Between January and September 2006, in Mumbai, there were 8,941
divorces, and between July and September, 2,932 divorce applications were filed.
On the date of publication of this report 20,265 divorce cases were pending in
Mumbai.” Nowadays young people are fatalistic about marriage. So they live
together without being married so that they do not have to fight court battles for
divorce later on. However this is not right before God. We must repent our
hardened hearts and restore the true meaning of marriage in this country.
Then what is the true meaning of marriage? Let us read verses 7-8. “But at
the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a
man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will
become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.” This is a quotation of
Genesis 2:24 which is God’s first wedding Sermon. Jesus saw marriage in view
of God’s creation. This tells us that God who created man and woman also
created or instituted marriage. God had already in mind to unite them to be one
through the marriage. When God made the world, he also made the first man
Adam. Adam was the first steward of God’s world. He worked hard. But he was
lonely because there was no suitable helper for him. He did not talk because
animals did not understand him. He did not smile even once though he worked in
the paradise. God saw that it was not good for him to be alone. So God made him
fall into a deep sleep and took one of his ribs and made a woman and gave her to
him (Gen. 2:20-24). From that time on, Adam began to talk and smile and even
sing. He was so happy like Shep Robert and Shps Happy who are going to
establish their blessed house church on February 24th. After the wedding in
paradise, Adam found happiness in God and the meaning of his existence. He
loved his wife as his bone of bones. When God created Eve he did not ask to
Adam what kind or what type should be his coworker. God created her with his
sovereignty and out of his deepest love for Adam to be the most suitable Adam
for Adam. God who created Adam knew what kind of woman could be his
suitable helper. When we study Genesis, we learn that Eve came from one of
Adam’s ribs. Therefore, they were in actuality, one. ‘For this reason a man will
leave his father and mother and be united to his wife’ does not mean breaking
one’s relationship with parents. It means a person is ready to be led by God and
lead his family independently. This also tells us that in God’s wisdom and
provision the relation between husband and wife is stronger than any other
relation in the world, even stronger than parent and son relationship. Look at
verse 8. “‘...and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but
one.” Here the two becoming one is unity in faith, in purpose, in hope, in serving
God’s mission together and also the physical union to raise up godly children.
Through this Jesus tells us that marriage is not simply an arrangement
between a man and woman but it is a three-party-covenant between God, man
and woman. Although every religion in the world try to make marriage look like
divine, in my opinion we must make every effort to meet our Creator God first
through deep Bible study especially when we are young. Then we can accept his
divine will for our life and prepare myself based on the truth to receive all his
prepared blessings including establishment of the family. Secondly, God
understands our need for marriage and he views family as the fundamental unit of
man’s happiness and God’s all blessings. Therefore we can entrust our marriage
matter to God and seek his will and leading for our marriage. Thirdly, God who
created us knows what kind of woman would be the suitable helper for me and he
has already created our respective suitable helper in his sovereignty and
providence. Therefore we should not fix our mind about the kind and type man or
woman I want to marry and should keep our faith continuously on the absolute
sovereignty of God and his providence for me. Fourthly, a family established by
God in his sovereignty and for his will is not only blessing that family but
blessing one nation and even all nations of the world. We do not know much
about Abraham and Sarah’s marriage, but in his love for all mankind God called
them and trained them until their faith grew to be father and mother of nations for
the whole world. Later, realizing the importance of marriage by God’s leading
and providence, Abraham entrusted the marriage of his son Isaac absolutely into
God’s hand and Isaac and Rebekah could marry to inherit God’s blessings. How
blessed we are to know this secret of happiness and blessing for our life and the
generation to come after us! May God establish many blessed house-church
among us through his leading when we live based on the marriage truth and
entrust our marriage into God’s hand. Especially let us pray that God may raise
four blessed house-churches this year.
What was Jesus’ final comment on marriage and divorce? Let us read v.9
once again. ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let men not separate.’
According to Jesus, marriage is God’s joining together of a man with his wife to
bless them and bless all others through them. On the other hand divorce—the act
of separating what God has joined together is standing against God’s will—in
other word committing sin against God. When we dishonor our marriage vows by
being unfaithful we cannot be truly happy as God rejects our life and offerings
and cannot bless us anymore.
Initially as a young man I was very anxious about my marriage and
thought it was right to frequently think about marriage and make speculation
about who would be my future coworker, especially after giving up all desires to
make girlfriend and after rejecting my father’s proposals to marry according to
his choice. When Sh Samuel got married before me I thought ‘What is the point
of my being a senior shepherd, raising up disciples or devoting myself for JNU
ministry?’ I complained that God is unjust. But when I accepted the marriage
truth in Genesis, I repented of my groundless pride, lack of faith in God’s
sovereignty and demanding for marriage though I was not ready to lead a family
independently. Then God taught me to pray, be an independent individual and
wait on God’s providence for my marriage. That was the time when I devoted
myself for Sunday message preparation, and to get a job and take care of the
ministry at a crucial time of persecution on our ministry. Then God miraculously
guided me to be an Asst Prof at LBSIM and established my blessed house-church
with Sh Sarah, who is the most beautiful woman in the world and most precious
blessing of God in my life. Just before our marriage, my father asked me, “Can
you live with a foreign woman for the rest of your life?” Perhaps he feared that
we also might divorce like many other after our love become cold. But because
God has united us in faith, in purpose, in mission, in hope and in every-way our
love and respect for each other grows deeper and deeper everyday. There is no
question of divorce in our blessed life. I only thank God for giving me the chance
to know him my Creator, who also created marriage--one of his most precious
blessing to mankind. I also thank God for establishing my blessed house-church
based on his truth and for his purpose. May God use my family to be a source of
blessing for the pioneering of more than 320 Indian university campuses
beginning from JNU.
Look at verses 10. “When they were in the house again, the disciples asked
Jesus about this.” The disciples wanted Jesus to be flexible in divorce. They
wanted to divorce if there was a problem in marriage. So they asked Jesus again
privately. What did Jesus teach them? Let’s read verses 11-12. “He answered,
‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery
against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she
commits adultery.” Jesus plainly told them that divorce is to satisfy the desire to
commit adultery. People explain their cause of divorce in many ways. But at the
bottom of their hearts they divorce to commit adultery. In the Old Testament time
the sin of adultery demanded both the adulterer and adulteress to be stoned to
death. Many are afraid to marry because so many couples divorce. But when we
marry before God by faith, there is no divorce in the marriage by faith.
II. The Little Children and Jesus (13-16)
Look at verse 13. “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him
touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.” Many parents knew that there was a
blessing in Jesus. So they brought all their children to Jesus to have him lay his
hand on their heads to be blessed. But the disciples thought that children would
hinder Jesus’ message and they were too small to understand, especially when a
serious topic like divorce being discussed, and not yet qualified to come to Jesus.
So the disciples rebuked them, “You children! Turn around and go back!
Otherwise, we will do something to you.” Look at verse 14a. “When Jesus saw
this, he was indignant.” To worldly people, ignoring children is a trivial matter.
But Jesus was very angry and rebuked his disciples. Look at verse 14b. “He said
to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of God belongs to such as these’” Jesus welcomed the little children
and asked his disciples also to welcome little children. It is easy to welcome
someone who has made his marks in life and who is well known. But the
disciples should be ready to welcome any kind of person especially those who
are like little children--not well known and not having any fame or achievement
in life.
What does it mean that the kingdom of God belong to the little children?
Look at verse 14b and15. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the
kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Here the point is receiving
by the little child. When something is offered to them they do not doubt or
calculate but receive with trust and happiness. Similarly people who have a
simple and seeking trusting mind can receive the kingdom of God and possess it.
In verse 16, Jesus took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and
blessed them. Jesus is eager to bless those who receive the kingdom of god with
simple trust and happiness. How is our attitude in receiving the kingdom of God?
We may come to the worship service and listen to a message and yet go back
empty without even worshiping God if we are not like the little children. May
God grant us a simple and seeking and trusting heart so that we may be blessed
by Jesus to possess the kingdom of God and enter the kingdom of God.
In conclusion we learned that God created marriage to unite a man and his
wife to be one and to bless them and bless all others through them. On the other
hand divorce is against the will of God and gives rise to sin of standing against
God’s will and the possibility of adultery. We must accept God’s sovereignty and
entrust our life including our marriage into his hands to establish a beautiful
house church realizing that a family established by God is the fundamental unit
of happiness and God’s blessings. May God grant us simple, seeing and trusting
attitude like little children to be blessed by Jesus and to receive the kingdom of