Mark- The Gospel of Action - Irreconcilable Differences
November 26, 2019, 3:18 PM

Mark: The Gospel of Action

“Irreconcilable Differences” – Mark 10:1-16


Jesus and His disciples were setting out on their final journey to the region of Judea before the crucifixion would take place. Jesus has been alluding to the coming crucifixion, and His disciples did not understand what this was all about – they had no idea that as they were heading toward Jerusalem that Jesus was on the path to fulfilling all that He had been telling them…

Mark 10:1-2 (NIV)
1 Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"

First of all notice with me the intention of the Pharisee’s here. We don’t have to guess because Mark makes it clear they were trying to test him. The word test here in the Greek is peiraz┼Ź (Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary) which is translated tempt in the King James Version. This was not a legitimate test, but one with motives of tripping Jesus up in His speech.

Have you ever considered the sound bites that we hear in the news. The media takes a few words and can make them mean just about anything. This is what the Pharisees were up to they were trying to trip Jesus up. They were baiting Him to build a case against Him.

Consider the factors behind the question.

“The Pharisees hoped to trap Jesus by getting him to choose sides in a theological controversy and incriminate himself in the process. They came with a hot topic: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” If Jesus supported divorce, he would be upholding the Pharisees’ procedures; they doubted that Jesus would do that. If Jesus chose sides in the controversy, some members of the crowd would dislike his position, for some may have used the law to their advantage to divorce their wives. Or, if he spoke against divorce altogether, he would appear to be speaking against Moses’ law (which allowed divorce). Besides these factors they knew that Jesus answer could incite the wrath of King Herod who had already killed John the Baptist for speaking out against divorce and adultery. This is what they ultimately hoped for.” —Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary

Whatever the reason for asking Jesus this question, and as we’ve seen their motives were impure, I am glad that they did, because Jesus took this opportunity designed to entrap him to address one of the most difficult issues in our world. It is great that we have Jesus teaching on this most important topic. It was a hot topic then and it is a hot topic today. In America the divorce rate is right around between 40-50% of first marriages ending in divorce, 2nd marriages are around 60% and 3rd marriages end in divorce about 73% of the time.

Most of us have suffered the effects of this in our lives. Many reading this today have gone through the tragedy of it perhaps in their own marriages and maybe are contemplating it in their current situations. In my family alone divorce has run rampant – my parents, my wife’s parents, a set of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. It is a devastating event.

Divorce is an epidemic and we as believers need to know what God thinks about it.

Notice in the passage that Jesus answers the question with a question of His own…

Mark 10:3-12 (NIV)
3 "What did Moses command you?" he replied.
4 They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."

They replied with a passage from Deuteronomy 24. Jesus asks them what Moses commanded and they replied with something that Moses permitted. Being commanded to do something is different than being given permission to do something. Not only this, but their very interpretation of this provision was founded in their selfishness as people – as though this were a right given by God to men – to break their commitments with their wives for any reason – I don’t like the way she cooks – she nags me, etc..

Mark 10:5-9 (NIV)
5 "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied.
6 "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.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

For the Pharisees this was a legal issue, but when Jesus was asking about what Moses commanded He was not interested in a loophole in the law, but rather the intent of their hearts. He was not interested in the legalities of divorce but rather the deeper more spiritual teachings of Moses concerning the institution of marriage. So Jesus uses this opportunity meant to trip Him up to teach truth. He takes them back to Genesis – We were created for relationship. We were created for intimacy. When a man and a woman marry it is a binding act not only legally, but even more so spiritually.

The truth is that everything is spiritual that we do and say. The Pharisees along with many others of the day saw marriage as merely a transaction of goods and services – like buying a donkey. In this mindset a divorce was no different from putting that donkey down or exchanging it.

Have you ever bought something, got it home and decided that you really don’t like it – so you take it back and either exchange it or get your money back. This is how marriage was treated and sometimes it is still the way it is treated today.

Jesus points out that divorce in the first place was instituted as a concession of protection for the innocent party, when their spouse has become destructive. I believe this is applicable to situations of desertion, adultery and abuse.

Woman being viewed as property could be in danger for instance, because of their lack of stature in society. Divorce was a provision because of the sin in man – it is not the ideal. It was a provision/ concession of Moses because of rampant sin– not a command of Moses.

Jesus reminds the Pharisees of the ideal, without negating this provision in the scriptures given by Moses. He points out in Genesis that Marriage was designed and instituted by God, Himself, as a Spiritual and Physical union of two becoming one. Here armed with this passage He places the question back at the feet of God for these Pharisees saying, Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Now the intent of this provision becomes really important. God views marriage as indivisible, but for the protection of the innocent party, due to the sins of men He allowed for divorce. Allowing for divorce, once again, is a provision for protection of the innocent – it is not a license to marry and break commitments. When Jesus was able to get alone with His disciples He explained this further.

Mark 10:10-12 (NIV)
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.
11 He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.
12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

In other words the guilty party is not free of guilt – on the contrary his/her choice is blatantly called sin if in fact he/she chooses to marry someone else. Is divorce wrong?

Malachi 2:14-16 (AMP)
14 …the Lord was witness [to the covenant made at your marriage] between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously and to whom you were faithless. Yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant [made by your marriage vows].
15 And did not God make [you and your wife] one [flesh]? Did not One make you and preserve your spirit alive? And why [did God make you two] one? Because He sought a godly offspring [from your union]. Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth.
16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate].

Unequivocally we can see here that God hates divorce. Is divorce a sin? For the one who has broken the marriage covenant divorce is wrong.

The innocent party, however is freed from their commitment to their divorcing spouse, but unfortunately they are not free from the pain of separation and the barrage of destruction that has been ravaged upon them in their loss of oneness and relationship. That Spiritual connection that is made in the consummation of marital vows is ripped apart violently and unfortunately there is no escape from this circumstance, even for the innocent person.

People think that divorce is the answer to their problems – in my experience divorce is like approaching a cracked Pandora’s Box and flinging it wide open.

It doesn’t usually solve anything. It is like pushing the button to nuke the world – world war 3 – Armageddon – and what is left usually is a wasteland of death and destruction in your life. It often doesn’t solve the problems, but instead it blows them up to a new and heightened level.

God however is in the business of healing and redeeming that which is lost or broken. He makes beauty out of ashes. He can replace a wasteland with an oasis. Still we should claim that for our marriages rather than a possible future healing from and impending divorce if possible. With Jesus help nothing in our marriages are irreconcilable.

As followers of Jesus Christ we need to take action in our marriages. They are worth fighting for. From the outset we need to commit ourselves to great resolve in our marriages. I like the way the Life Application Commentary puts it – “Don’t be hard-hearted like these Pharisees, but be hard-headed in your determination, with God’s help, to stay together.” This was the irreconcilable difference that Jesus had with the Pharisees – their hearts were hardened and He came to change that.

As believers we need to not only stand for our own marriages but we need to stand for the institution of marriage. It really doesn’t matter what the government or the judiciaries define marriage as – it was designed by God as a picture of His perfect, unconditional and sacrificial love for us. He calls the church His bride, and He will always remain faithful to us, even when we fall away.

When marriages fail – especially in the church it sends a message to the world once again that love doesn’t have any power to conquer the hardships of life and that God does not have the power to really change or heal anything. This of course is a false message because it is often rooted in a false love, but nevertheless it is the one most often promoted. Our media speak of marriage as a trap, a nuisance, a temporary contract – it is just another consumable. We fall in and out of love – but really that is not love – not the kind that Jesus showed us and calls us to.

Paul said it so profoundly and this applies to all of our relationships, and especially to our marriages – it is the love modeled by Jesus. It is the kind of love that puts you on a cross. It is the kind of love He is calling us to have toward one another – and especially toward our spouses.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

By Carl Friedel

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