Daybreak: Matthew 19:1-26
“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6)
At traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies, a glass is broken as part of the ceremony. At the conclusion of the blessings, after the couple drinks from the glass, the groom breaks it with his right foot. This act is a reminder to those present that even at the height of personal joy, they must remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
One Jewish rabbi offered a slightly different interpretation. He said, “We hold aloft a glass, let it fall and be shattered to atoms, and then, pointing to its fragments, we exhort the young people to guard jealously the sacred relationship into which they have entered since, once it is fractured, it can never be restored.”
While a broken marriage actually can be restored through the forgiveness and grace of God, the rabbi’s words do point to an important truth: the vital necessity of carefully guarding the marriage vows. In today’s text, the Pharisees confronted Jesus and tried to force Him to choose sides in a theological controversy regarding divorce. In His answer, Jesus focused on marriage rather than the dissolution of marriage, pointing out that God intended marriage to be permanent.
Possibly in your own wedding ceremony, our focus verse was read. Or perhaps you will hear it read in the future, if you are not yet married. If you and your spouse take seriously the fact that divorce is not an option, you have gone a long way toward building a happy and lasting marriage. No matter what problems you face, resolution will be reached more easily if you both work from the premise that the only option is to solve them.
Even in the best marriages, over a period of time, stress points and controversial issues will arise and there will be times when the two of you are “out of harmony” with each other. The quicker and more gently these issues can be dealt with and harmony restored, the better. You will realize that a problem moment is not a time for convincing your spouse how he/she is in the wrong and that you are blameless (often not the case anyway). Rather, it is a time to exercise great love, gentleness, and understanding. Instead of looking at problems as a justification to leave each other, you and your spouse should view them as a challenge that, if handled correctly, can strengthen your union and commitment to each other.
Prayerfully seek God’s will before you plunge into the lifelong commitment of marriage. Once you have taken the plunge, resolve with the help of God to stick together!
Three significant events occurred in this portion of text: Jesus faced a challenge by the religious leaders regarding marriage and divorce, He blessed the little children, and He discoursed with the rich young ruler.
Notice the context in which Jesus delivered His comments on marriage. The Pharisees were not interested in knowing what Jesus really thought, but rather were looking for ways to try to trap Him by a debate about Moses’ words recorded in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In Moses’ day, as well as in the time of Christ, the way marriage was practiced did not always align with God’s intention. Permanent marriage was and is God’s plan, but because of man’s fallen nature and the inevitable fact that divorces would occur, Moses made civil laws to protect the victim. The two groups confronting Jesus had opposing views concerning Moses’ law. One group held that divorce was allowable for almost any reason; the other stipulated that the only justifiable reason was marital unfaithfulness. Rather than responding to them, Jesus pointed out that God intended marriage to be indissoluble. (Note that while divorces still occur, neither partner is given liberty in Scripture to marry again as long as the first companion lives.)
Concerning little children, Jesus made it clear that parents bringing their children to Him did not bother Him. In fact, He heartily encouraged this. He wanted the children to come to Him because He loves them, and because they exemplify to older generations the type of attitude needed to approach God. The receptivity of these little ones was in great contrast to the hardhearted and arrogant attitudes of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. An additional reason for bringing children to Jesus is, what children learn in early childhood will go a long way toward determining what kind of a man or woman they will become. Often, children have much to teach their own parents when it comes to faith and trust in God.
The rich young ruler, although seemingly religious, sensed that something was missing in his life. After a few questions, Jesus put His finger on the key issue: this young man was more interested in his possessions and all that they entailed than in serving Jesus. He needed to submit humbly to the lordship of Christ, but when confronted with this, he made a choice — the wrong choice.
Upon the departure of the young man, Jesus made a further comment to His disciples, saying that a rich man “shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (verse 23). The common thinking of the day was that the rich were blessed of God, and thus were certainly saved. To correct that mindset, Jesus explained the human difficulty of the rich being converted. The word translated as hardly implies “with extreme difficulty,” though not an impossibility. The rich, along with the poor, must be willing to give up everything to follow Christ. However, often those with great possessions have much to struggle with, and it will require the greatest of human efforts to break away from their material benefits and willingly relinquish all to secure salvation.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. Instructions of the King in light of His opposition
B. Instructions in light of His opposition
7. Instruction concerning divorce (19:1-12)
8. Instruction concerning children (19:13-15)
9. Instruction concerning wealth (19:16-26)
a. The snare of wealth (19:16-22)
b. The disadvantage of wealth (19:23-26)
A Closer Look
- What question did the Pharisees ask Jesus concerning divorce?
- What do you think Jesus meant by saying that a man should leave his father and mother and “cleave to his wife”?
- What great principle is set forth in Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler? What are some ways you can demonstrate this principle in your daily life?
Because marriage is a lifelong commitment, why not do all you can to make it the best possible experience? Here is an easy way that won’t cost you a cent. At least once a day, without being coaxed, whisper those three famous little words, “I love you,” to your spouse!
- Matthew Introduction
- Matthew Complete Amplified Outline
- A Traditional View of Passion Week
- Daybreak Unit PDF (Matthew, Hebrews, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians)
- Discovery Unit PDF (Matthew, Hebrews, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians)
- Discovery Teacher’s Guide Unit PDF (Matthew, Hebrews, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians)
- Unit Binder Cover