"The one who can accept it should accept it"- Matthew 19:1-12

“The one who can accept it should accept it”

Matthew 19:1-12


This Week’s Core Virtue

Single-mindedness – I focus on God and His priorities for my life.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Just as is the case for you, my daily life is inundated with making choices. There exists a constant flow of "good" things that can be done. Because of that I have to continually ask myself is "what is God's best for me right now, today?" As Oswald Chambers so starkly puts it, "it is the good that hates the best" (My Utmost for His Highest, Dec 9 entry). And this is where the pursuit of single- mindedness comes into play. The challenge of course is walking with God with a heart that is sensitive to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes recognizing the Spirit's guidance is easier said than done. After all, it does take intentional effort on our part to slow down enough to get quiet and still to listen to God in prayer. Yet, this discipline is an essential aspect to us making wise choices. Only the Spirit of God can perfectly sift through all the "good" options before us to reveal that which is "best." It will come as no surprise that we find our Savior engaging in this very practice throughout the Gospels. Maybe our best next step is to seek a relationship of deeper abiding with Christ just as Jesus did with the Father (John 15). I constantly remind myself of Christ's words regarding the fruitfulness of my labors. "I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5).

Scripture: Matthew 19:1-12 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

The Message of this Passage: In almost every area Jesus challenges the religious establishment to move away from their presumptions and live by the love and grace of God. In Matthew 19:1-12 we see once again Jesus challenges the religious establishment to move away from their presumptions and to take marriage seriously!

So when some Pharisees came up to him, testing him, by asking whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?” They must have been surprised  when he answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?’

This response, was not what they wanted to hear.

And they said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

Jesus discerns a “teachable” moment, and takes the initiative. He knows that their understanding about the whole matter is wrong-headed. They start from the assumption that a man has a right by Law to end his marriage, whereas God desires permanence. To point out this crucial flaw in their thinking, He reminds them of another teaching of Moses: And he answered and said, “Have you not read, that he who created them from the beginning of creation made them male and female, and said ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh’? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

They had been concerned with “when the man may walk away from his wife.” Jesus points out that the design of marriage is not to see it end. The man and his wife were designed to complement each other. When that complement became a covenanted couple, a union was formed, and the choice to do so involved an intention never to go back to their former singleness—it was an intention to permanency. Having acted on that choice, they do not have the right simply to “walk away” but should see themselves as one. So the better question would have been, “how can a man fulfill his covenant commitment to his wife, and what does that look like”? Remembering that God himself is the guarantor of the covenant. No human being should think that he or she has the moral right, unilaterally to dissolve the covenant. The covenant cannot be dissolved without challenging the One who insures the covenant: God himself. Instead we should be looking for every opportunity to grow in God’s love and in His grace.

For Discussion:

  • How have you been affected by divorce? How does divorce affect relationships such as family, friends, children, and multi generational offspring?

  • Why does most of society today seem to take marriage casually? How does this compare to the Scriptures view of marriage?

  • What does it take to succeed in all relationships, not just marriage? 

  • Jesus warns us that our customs and practices may be popular and allowed but they are not necessarily good. Can you name some? 

  • Why did the Pharisees come to Jesus?

  • Why would the Pharisees rather debate, argue, and suppress the people than search out and apply the Scriptures? Why do some people do this today? 

  • Why would Jesus use the creation account as His argument? Why would that be relevant to the people He was taking to?

  • To do as we please, even though we have the liberty to do so, is to deny God's creation and Lordship over our lives. How is this so?

  • How do you think the Pharisees felt when Jesus basically told them that they and their ancestors were hard hearted, indifferent to God? How would you feel?

  • Why must God's Word always be our final court of arbitration that settles any and all arguments? What happens when Scripture is not the final authority? 

  • Do you realize how much Jesus loves and cares for you? If so, how has this shaped your life and outlook? How can it? 

Grant SchweisthalMatthew