PHARISEES ASK ABOUT DIVORCE
Jesus and His disciples were getting closer to Jerusalem.
One day as they were on their travels, the Pharisees wanting once
more to test Him, came asking this question, "It is lawful to
divorce one's wife for any cause?"
We have seen in the past chapters that there were two
schools among the sect of the Pharisees, and the main school of
thought and popularity among the Pharisee leaders was the school
that taught that the laws of Moses allowed for divorce for just
about any reason, large or very small. The Pharisees wanted to
see if Jesus agreed with the most popular of their theology
schools. And of course Jesus knew all this was what was going on
in their minds. He did not beat around the bush with them but
went on to state what would be the New Covenant teaching on this
"Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning,
made them male and female, 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'? So they are no longer two but one. What
therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
Jesus was telling them that the days of allowing divorce and
remarriage for just any silly little reason was over. Under the
New Covenant such conduct and allowances were now not to be
permitted. He was not agreeing with their most popular school of
theology, not for the New Testament age anyway.
They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a
certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" They were referring
to Deuteronomy 24: 1-2. And in their understanding of those
verses people in Israel were allowed to divorce for all kinds of
reasons, even trivial ones. Jesus did not argue with that
interpretation and practice. He just stated what God's original
intention for marriage was and that the days were over in
allowing divorce for any and every reason.
Jesus answered their question about Moses this way, "For the
HARDNESS of heart Moses ALLOWED you to divorce your wives, but
from the BEGINNING it was not so."
It was because the heart of the Israelite people was mainly
hardened and unconverted, not subject to the ways and laws of the
Lord, certainly not to the spiritual intent of the law. And when
it came to certain physical things like marriage, even having
more than one wife (which is called polygamy), they were far from
being in tune and in line with God's original intention for
marriage, when He first made man and woman. For how God looked
upon the heart of the Israelites see Deut. 5: 29; and 29: 4. God
ALLOWED MANY things under the Old Covenant that was not ideal or
as He would have wanted. Slavery was allowed, but that did not
mean God approved of it or sanctioned it.
He DID NOT, but because they were a carnal hard-hearted
people, who would have practiced it, He allowed it, but in
allowing it He gave strict humane and compassionate laws to
regulate it, as we see written in the laws of Moses.
From the BEGINNING of the creation of the world and man and
woman upon it, God's intention for many things to do with human
relations was far from what nations came to practice, far from
what the heart of the Israelites was set upon to also practice,
so He allowed things under the Old Testament, but many of those
allowances were not going to be allowed under the New Testament.
Jesus went on to say, "And I say unto you; whoever divorces
his wife, EXCEPT for unchastity (unfaithfulness, sexual
misconduct), and marries another, commits adultery."
Jesus was tightening up the marriage bond between couples.
No longer would it be permitted in God's eyes, to divorce and
remarry for many of the little reasons it was allowed under the
Old Covenant. Jesus DID ALLOW for one category of marriage
misconduct, He allowed divorce for UNCHASTITY....for any sexual
sin one partner may commit against the other, such as adultery or
any homosexual or lesbian sex act. The Greek word here used by
Jesus, when we look how it is used throughout the New
Testament, in many different passages, shows clearly that the
word covers ALL improper acts of sex that God does not allow
under His laws for sexual relations, which then include adultery
and homosexuality and/or lesbianism (as well of course as
"beastiality" or sex with an animal).
If one partner in a marriage union did commit such unlawful
sex acts then Jesus and God, did allow for divorce and
remarriage, if the offended party wants to take such action. The
offended party could of course show mercy and forgiveness if the
offending partner repented and turned away from their sexual sin.
God did not say there HAD to be a divorce, only there could be
grounds for divorce under that situation.
The disciples of Jesus you must remember were brought up in
a society where the main Pharisee school of religion was
practiced. They were accustomed to having divorce and remarriage
on a very loose scale. On hearing these words from Jesus they
could not believe it could be possible to live under a much
tighter marriage bond, definitely not as tight as their Master
was now proclaiming it would be, so as to be within the New
Covenant laws of God. So they responded to the Lord this way:
"If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not
expedient to marry!"
But He said to them, "Not all men can receive this precept
you state, but only those to whom it is given. For there are
eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs made
by men, and there are eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of
heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it "
(Mat. 19: 3-12).
First of all, Jesus did not answer or debate with them over
the matter of divorce and remarriage, you will notice. He had
said what He had said, and it was to be that way under the New
Covenant age, divorce for any silly reason was no longer allowed
by God. Jesus aimed right in on the disciples saying that it
might be better to NOT marry at all. He took the opportunity to
talk about people not marrying. Despite the tightening up of
the marriage bond for the New Testament age, most would still
want to marry, and only the relatively few could accept the
disciples thought about NOT marrying. It was only the
few, to whom it was given not to marry that would be able to live
and never marry, or remain un-married if they lost a mate.
We need to understand what a "eunuch" is. A eunuch is
someone (usually a man, or the word was commonly used for men)
who has no sex drive, and no desire to have a marriage with a
woman, because they have no desire for sex or to reproduce. Some
people, because of things that go wrong from conception, never
enter the life stage of sexuality, they never get any sex drive
as we say, which usually starts around the age of 10-13 for the
Then some men back in Jesus day, had their testicles removed
by other men, usually men in government power positions or kings.
This made them lose any sexual drive, they had no interest in
women for sexual relations. Often kings put such man made
eunuchs in charge of their large concord of female dancers and
sexy women (rulers and kings of carnal nations had many women
just for sexual purposes only), because such men were not
effected by the beauty and sexuality of women, hence had no
desire to have sexual relations with them. Such eunuchs of men
could have normal conversations with women, could rule and manage
them, but had no desire to be sexual towards them.
Some persons (probably the apostle Paul was one of them, for
he indicates in his writings that he was not married when doing
the work of the Lord) have made themselves a eunuch, so to speak,
for the work of the Kingdom of God. They have the power and self
control to not be desirous for a sexual relationship with a woman
Jesus makes it plain that this voluntary "none marriage" -
"no sexual relationship" is not for the majority, but is only for
the few, who have the power to refrain from sex and marriage, in
order to put their whole life and energy into doing the work of
the Kingdom of God.
An example would be that of John the Baptist. He remained
un-married and a decided "eunuch" - no sexual relations with any
woman, all his life, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and the
work he had been called to do. And of course the Lord Jesus
was also a eunuch for the Kingdom of God's sake. Only a few men
can so be, only a few are able to receive this, and Jesus said,
let him who can receive it, receive it.
JESUS BLESSES LITTLE CHILDREN
And it was that they were bringing children to Him that He
might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus
saw it He was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come
to me, and do not hinder them; for to such ones belongs the
Kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the
Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And He took them
in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.
What a great example we see here, and we will notice that
children were not afraid to come to Jesus. He had a meek and mild
manner with them. We might say He had a soft and tender spot for
children that made such young ones feel quite at ease in His
presence and even in His arms (Mark 10: 13-16).
THE WAY TO INHERIT THE KINGDOM
As Jesus was once more setting out on His journey towards
Jerusalem, a certain very wealthy young ruler ran up to Jesus and
kneeling before Him, asked, "Good teacher, what must I do to
inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me
good? No one is good but God alone?" He was obviously wondering
if this man knew that He, Jesus, was God in the flesh.
Continuing to answer his question, Jesus said, "You know the
commandments, if you would enter or inherit eternal life, keep
the commandments, 'Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not
bear false witness, do not steal, honor your father and mother,
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "
The rich young man said to him, "All these I have done from
my youth, what do I still lack in how I should live?" And Jesus
looking upon him with love, said to him, "You lack one thing. If
you would be perfect, go and sell what you possess and give it
all to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and then
come and follow me."
When the young rich ruler heard this he went away very
sorrowfully because he had great possessions, and was physically
Jesus turned and looked at His disciples and said to them,
"I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich man to enter
the Kingdom of God. And again, I tell you, it is easier for a
camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to
enter the Kingdom of God."
The disciples were greatly astonished when they heard Him
say these things. And they asked Him, "Who then can enter the
Kingdom of God and be saved?"
"With men," Jesus replied, "it is impossible, but with God
all things are possible."
Yes, the natural tendency of the human heart is, if wealthy,
to rely and covet, even putting faith into the material money and
goods you have, and to not think you need God in your life. Or,
as this young rich man found out, making your physical wealth
something you cannot give up. Jesus loved this young man for
observing the basic letter of the commandments of God from his
youth, but He knew there was ONE weakness that he had that would
keep him from entering the Kingdom of God. That weakness was that
he could not give up his physical wealth, give it to the poor and
needy and be a fully dedicated disciple of the Lord. His wealth
had become his "god" and he did not realize it until Jesus put
him to the test over it. Sometimes God does put us to the test,
not always, but sometimes, especially if we ask Him what we lack
in order to inherit eternal life. He may very well tell us in no
uncertain terms. Physical wealth is not wrong to have, for many
of God's people down through the ages have been blessed with
great material riches, such as Job, and Abraham, but their wealth
never became their idol or "god" - they would readily have given
it all up to be as King David once said, "I'd rather be a door
keeper in the house of the Lord than dwell in the tents of rich
We need to make sure that we can give up ANYTHING in this
physical life time, IF God requires us to give it up.
It is very interesting and very instructive that you will
notice Jesus did not tell this rich young man to sell all his
possessions, give up all his money, and give it to the "church"
or in Jesus' day, to the Temple and to the priests. He told him
to give it to "the poor." We can also gather from this that Jesus
knows and believes that there are "genuine" poor people who need
help in a material way. Yes, there are what we term "bums" who
are lazy people, who will try to live off their society, as if
society owes them a free living. But Jesus and God also know
there are people that circumstances of life often deal them the
wrong hand, and they are in a poor situation because of it. Jesus
knew there were genuinely poor people that were worthy of a
helping hand. He gave this young rich man the wonderful
opportunity to serve and help such people, and to then also
be one of His very chosen disciples. Who knows, if this young man
had chosen to walk with Jesus, he may have become the disciple
that replaced Judas Iscariot, as ONE of the very TWELVE, that
would be given great honor and rulership in the Kingdom of God,
as we shall now see, that Jesus promised each one of the twelve.
Peter, hearing what Jesus had told the young ruler, and
knowing he and the others had given up much to be a disciple,
said to Jesus, "Master, we have left EVERYTHING to follow you.
What then shall we receive in the Kingdom?"
Jesus answered, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who
has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or
children or lands, for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not
receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and
sisters and mothers and fathers and children and lands, with
persecutions maybe, and in the age to come eternal life. As for
you twelve in particular, in the new age, when the Son of man
shall sit on His glorious throne, you shall sit on twelve
thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Many that are first
will be last, and the last shall be first" (Mat. 19: 16-30; Mark
10: 17-31; Luke 18: 18-30).
When we become a disciple of the Lord Jesus, we may have to
give up many friends and relatives who do not understand why we
have become a Christian, they do not like that we have become a
Christian, they may want nothing to do with us any more,
especially when we really serve the Lord in all aspect of our
lives. But we immediately become a member of the body of Christ
and we are one of a large and loving family, with spiritual
brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers all over the world.
We have in this life time, great blessings from being a part of
God's family. And in the world to come, we shall inherit eternal
life in the glorious immortal Kingdom of God.
Many who have put themselves first in this life time,
putting wealth, ambition, fame, family, jobs, etc. shall be last
to have their minds opened and to receive a chance to have
their names written into the book of life. Many of those first
will have to wait until the white throne judgment day
resurrection, at the end of the commonly called "millennium"
(Rev.20) or 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth, before they can
receive and have the book of life opened to them.
Those who have put themselves last, been willing to give up
anything and everything, in order to be part of God's family here
and now, shall receive and be the first to gain and inherit
eternal life, when Jesus returns to reign on earth and to
establish the Kingdom of God over all nations.
Looking beyond the present, into what can be, by being in
the first resurrection, the glory and splendor and rewards for
that age to come and for ever more, makes giving up whatever we
have to give up in this life time, well worth the sacrifice.
UNDERSTAND YOUR CALLING AND PAYMENT
Jesus taught them saying, "For the Kingdom of heaven is like
a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers
for his vineyard. after agreeing with the laborers for $100 a
day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the
third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and
to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard also, and whatever is
right I will give you.' So they went. Going out again about the
sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And then about
the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he
said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to
him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You
go into my vineyard too.' And when evening came, the owner of the
vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and pay them
their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when
those who were hired about the eleventh hour came they received
$100. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive
more; but each of them also received $100. And on receiving it
they grumbled and complained at the householder, saying, 'These
last worked only one hour and you have paid them equal to us who
have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he
replied to them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not
agree with me for $100. Take what belongs to you, and go your
way; I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I
not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do
you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the
first last" (Mat.20: 1-16).
And the first thing we need to note is the overall general
meaning of this parable. God will call people to work for His
Kingdom as and when He wants to. And no matter how long or short
you work till the end of the day for you comes, all will get ONE
thing in common. It is not the reward for our works that the New
Testament talks about elsewhere, such as the twelve apostles each
ruling over one tribe of Israel, as Jesus promised them, but the
one thing each laborer for the Kingdom will receive that will be
equal and common to all, is ETERNAL LIFE.
You may have been called to the Kingdom when young, say a
teenager, and labored in it for decades, if you live a long life.
On the other hand maybe God did not call you to labor in the
Kingdom until you were elderly, in your sixties or seventies, or
older, and so you labored not that long before you died. Whether
you labor for a long or short time in this life for the Kingdom
of God, all will receive eternal life. Such laboring and living
for the Kingdom is God's choosing, it is all in His hands, to do
with what is His to do with.
The book of Revelation in chapter 7 (just as the great day
of God's wrath is to come upon this world, at the end of this
age) shows that many will be called and converted very near the
time of the coming of Christ in glory. They will be in the
Kingdom with eternal life, though they may have only labored for
a relatively short time (compared to others) for the Kingdom.
I also want you to note another important teaching, that
will be important to understand and remember when we come to the
events of the day upon which Christ died. Jesus talked about
certain hours of the day. The third hour was about our 9 a.m.
the sixth hour about noon and the eleventh hour was about the
hour we call 5 p.m. There were twelve hours in the day time part
of the day and twelve hours in the night portion as the Jews
split up the 24 hour day. The vineyard owner called his steward
WHEN EVENING came. Evening did not come until the twelfth hour
was finish, which would then correspond to our 6 p.m. At 6 p.m.
and not before, it was evening time. Then indeed the long heat of
the day was over with. But, the main thing to remember, and a
study in the word "evening" as used and as defined and
interpreted by the New Testament itself, is that evening is not
before 6 p.m. Anytime AFTER 6 p.m. it could be called evening,
but evening did not come until the twelve hours of the day had
JESUS FORETELLS HIS DEATH THE THIRD TIME
And they were walking on the road, going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were somewhat
amazed at His lonely solitude among them, even to the point of
being afraid, but not really knowing why. And He took the twelve
to one side and began to tell them for the third time what would
happen to Him, saying, "Behold, we are on the way up to
Jerusalem; and when we get there, the Son of man will be
delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will
condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Roman gentiles; and
they will mock Him, and spit upon Him, and scourge Him, and then
kill Him; and after three days He will rise from the dead and
live again" (Mark 10: 32-34).
Luke in his gospel account adds that the twelve still did
not understand all this that Jesus said to them. It was not yet
revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. They could not imagine that
such things could happen to the very Son of God. And they, like
many of that day, did not understand all the prophecies of the
Old Testament concerning the first coming of the Messiah to the
earth and all that was written would need to be fulfilled.
The journey to Jerusalem was near completed, and we are
close to the last few weeks in the physical life of Jesus.
Written November 2002