About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 19:1-12   ch. 91:13-15    ch.19:16-30

Divorce (ch. 19:1 - 12)


In verses 1 and  2 we see that Jesus left Galilee and moved to the south into Judea, and across the Sea of Galilee .  Judea is the province where Jerusalem is located.  Once again, large crowds followed Jesus and he healed their sick.  As stated before, Jesus healed everyone that came to Him, and if you study the gospel accounts closely, he healed everyone, not just those who had faith in Him. And even those who did have a measure of faith, their faith wasn’t necessarily in the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, to whom they had to give their lives to.  Their faith was simply in the fact that He had the ability to heal them.


In verse 3 the Pharisees come to Jesus with a question that was meant to trick Him.  They were constantly trying to catch Jesus in a mistake.  This time the question was, “ is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason”?


We need to understand that the rabbinical law allowed for divorce, as well as the Law of Moses.  Yet the rabbinical law went much farther than the Law of Moses in the reasons why a man could divorce his wife.  Men could divorce their wives for all sorts of reasons that weren’t important.  At the mere whim of a man, he could divorce his wife.


In verses 4 through 6 Jesus begins to answer this question.  He refers back to creation, by calling God “the Creator”.  He says that the Creator made man and woman, and for this reason, a man would leave his father and mother and be united with his wife. 


Jesus says “for this reason a man will leave his father…”  What reason is Jesus speaking of?  The reason is mentioned in the sentence before, and that is, “because God made man and woman.  The reason why a man leaves his parents is to be united with his wife, and this union is sexual.  I say this because Jesus says that God made man and woman, and He made them different sexually.  The only reason why God made woman was to be one who would stand beside man.  Also woman was made for man, and not a man made for a man.   


In sexual union, a husband and his wife become one.  Jesus thus says, “what God has joined together, let no man separate”.  This in fact answers the original question.  The rabbinical law allowed for separation and divorce, but Jesus said that man should not allow such separation.


When Jesus confirms the truth that says what God has joined together let no one separate, He is saying that God has instituted marriage between a man and a woman.  This is the only kind of relationship God instituted. By allowing same-sex marriages you are thus separating what God has joined.    


In verse 7 the Pharisees then ask Jesus if God does not want divorce, why did He allow for divorce in the Law of Moses?   It’s a logical question to ask.


Jesus answers in verse 8 by saying that God allowed divorce in the Law of Moses because men’s hearts were evil.  This tells you a little about the Law.  One reason for the Law of Moses was a consolation because of man’s sinfulness. So God did allow divorce, but that was clearly not His original intention for men and women.  He originally wanted them to be man and wife for life.


Verse 9 is important to this discussion so I will quote it.  Jesus says, “anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery”.  The word “except” introduces what we call the “exception clause”.  What Jesus is saying here is that if a man divorces his wife and remarries, he commits adultery.  Yet, there is one exception, and that is if his wife is unfaithful to him.  Thus if a man divorces his wife because she has been sexually unfaithful, he is permitted to divorce her, and if he remarries, then he is not committing adultery.


Remember, the Jesus was addressing the Pharisees, but in verse 10 the disciples come back with their own question.  They basically say that if this is the case, “it is better not to marry”.  Why would they say this? 


The mentality of the disciples concerning marriage was most likely the same that the Pharisees had, and that was, it is okay to divorce your wife for every and any reason.  Jesus only gives one exception, and that’s if your wife has been unfaithful to you.  Well the disciples figured that if there’s only one reason to divorce your wife, it’s better not to get married.  There’s just too many things that go wrong in a marriage relationship, and if you can’t get out easily, then don’t get married in the first place.  Their reasoning is logical from their perspective.


In verse 11 Jesus answers by admitting the fact that not everyone can accept this.  What does He mean by “accept this’?  What needs to be accepted here?  What is hard to accept is the fact that he says that there is only one way out of marriage, and that it might well be better for some not to marry.  He says that the ones who can accept the single life is the one to whom it has been given to do so. In some cases then, singleness is a gift.  This suggests to me that because of creation, man and woman were created to be married, but in some circumstances there is an exception.


Jesus says that there are 3 reason for this exception in verse 12.   One reason is that some men were born eunuchs, meaning, for one reason or another they aren’t able to have sex and reproduce.  Other men are made this way by men, by surgery, for one reason or another.  Then the third reason is that some men are able to control themselves sexually and decide to not marry in order to give their whole lives to the Kingdom of God .  This would be a gift as I stated in the last paragraph. 


Jesus ends this discussion by saying, “the one who can accept this, should accept it”, meaning, if you can stay single successfully for the sake of the Kingdom of God , then stay single, but for the majority of men and women, you are to be married.  Paul was an example of a single man who was single for the sake of the Kingdom of God .


A word of caution must be given on the topic of divorce and remarriage for it is a divisive issue in the church and many people have differing opinions. You should not take one reference to the subject and build your thinking on a few verses.  Jesus speaks to this issue in other places, and those words must be considered as well.  Beyond what Jesus says here, the New Testament has more to say about divorce and remarriage, and all these Scriptures must be taken into consideration when determining one’s position on this subject.


The Little Children And Jesus (ch. 19:13 - 15)


In verse 13 we see that people brought their little children to Jesus so He could pray for them.  The disciples rebuked these parents for bringing their children to Jesus.  This shows you how these men viewed children in relation to Jesus.  They viewed them as being a bother.  You might think that they would have clued in that children weren’t a bother to Jesus by the things that He had recently said to them about children, one of which was that the disciples themselves  were to become like children if they wanted to enter the Kingdom of God .  Jesus repeats this idea in verse 14.


Verse 15 tells us that after Jesus placed His hands on these children he left that place. 


I believe that Jesus had, and still has  a soft spot in His heart for children, as He does with any unprivileged person. 


The Rich Young Man (ch. 19:16 - 30)


In verse 16 we see a young man come up to Jesus and ask “what good thing must I do to get eternal life”?  We note the mentality of this man, which is the mentality of the Jewish people, and really, of any religious person.  This man’s thinking was that he had to do something good in order to enter the bliss of the next life.   This is the way it is with all religions.  Religion is man doing something in order to be made right with God, but this is not true Christianity.


In verse 17 Jesus answers this man with His own question.  He asks, “why do you ask me what is good”?   I think Jesus knew why the young man asked this question, but Jesus is entering a dialogue with this man and He is prompting this man to think.  It is interesting to note that much of what Jesus says to individuals in the way of teaching is meant to cause the individual to really think things through, something that many modern Christians don’t do.  That is, they don’t put a lot of stock in thinking things through.  They preferred to listen to a sermon instead of sitting down and reasoning things out.


Jesus goes on to say that there is only One who is good and that is God, so you aught to obey His commandments.  I think Jesus said this for a specific reason as well.  He knew that this man thought goodness was all about doing things, and obeying the commandments was on the top of this man’s list of good things to do.  The man just wanted Jesus to tell him one other good thing to do that would guarantee eternal life for him.


So in verse 18 the young man asks Jesus which commands did He have in mind that he should obey.  The man was ready for what Jesus was to tell him because he had done quite well in obeying the commandments of God.


So in response Jesus picks out six commands.  They are, don’t commit adultery, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t give a false testimony, and honour you parents, and love your neighbour as yourself.


In verse 20 the man says that he has kept all these commands.  He then asks Jesus “what do I lack”, as in, tell me something I haven’t done.  I don’t know if this man was being prideful or if he really was asking Jesus this out of a pure heart.  Whatever the case, Jesus takes this man seriously and at his word.


In verse 21 Jesus comes back with the hard command and it’s not one of the Ten Commandments.  He tells this man that if he is really serious about wanting to be perfect in the eyes of God, then he must sell all that he has, then come back to follow Him. 


Why did Jesus give this young man this particular command?  Jesus was addressing the important issues of life for this man.  His riches were the dearest things to this man’s heart.  In Jesus’ mind, if this man was serious about entering life after death,  he would give him a test that would prove this.   


It’s interesting to note here that Jesus didn’t offer this man another command from the Old Testament.  If fact Jesus wasn’t telling this man to obey any Old Testament command.  He was asking this man to obey Him, and rightly so, because this is what the New Testament is all about.  We are to obey Jesus, because He is the fulfillment of the Law, and in a very real sense of the word, has replaced the Law. 


In verse 24 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth”.  Usually when Jesus prefaces a statement with this it is to emphasize what He is about to say.  What He says next is that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven .  Entering the Kingdom of Heaven could be taken in two ways.   It could be taken as the Kingdom of Heaven as in the next life, or it might well be taken as in this life.  The Kingdom of Heaven came to earth on the day of Pentecost.  It’s now a spiritual kingdom on earth, but at the end of this age will become material.  Heaven indeed will come to earth and we will live in God’s Kingdom on the New Earth.


However you take these words, riches are a major distraction to the Kingdom of God , both individually and collectively as God’s people.  We see Jesus’ thinking here again about riches, and it’s not all that positive.


In verse 25 Jesus says that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven .  There is much debate over what this means.  I will not get into that debate other than to say, however Jesus meant these words, it’s hard for a rich person to enter God’s Kingdom because riches have such a hold on him.


In verse 25 the disciples were “astonished” with  Jesus’ statement and therefore asked, “who then can be saved”?  It’s a natural question asked by carnal man. The disciples knew well how riches have a hold on people, them included.  They couldn’t figure out then how anyone could be saved if what Jesus said was true.


Notice the disciples use the word “save” in relation to entering the Kingdom of Heaven .  They are right in using this word.  One is saved from the Kingdom of satan and rescued into the Kingdom of Heaven .  Yet even as I say this, the most important thing a person is saved from is God Himself, and His wrath and anger He will exhibit on the Day of Judgment.


In verse 26 Jesus responds by saying that with man it’s impossible to be saved, but with God all things are possible.  There is no way that man can bring salvation to himself on his own.  God provides salvation through Jesus and His salvation can penetrate through all things, even riches.  The important thing to note here is that man is unable to be saved on his own.  God is the only one that can save us from His wrath and anger.  Yet we can’t seem to understand this.  We constantly religionize Christianity and make it a humanistic religion, and when we do, it no longer is true Christianity.


In verse 27 Peter responds to what Jesus said by saying that the disciples have left everything, so what is left for them to do?  Peter was right.  They had left a lot to follow Jesus.  They had pretty well done what Jesus told this young man to do.  It is only logical that Peter would ask Jesus this question.  If the disciples had left any riches they might have had, then really, they must inherit the Kingdom of God .


But the truth of finding salvation is not only in the leaving of something behind, but the replacement of that which is left behind with Jesus.  Jesus told the young man to sell all he had then follow Him.  He did not merely tell the young man to sell all he had.  The following Jesus must follow selling all that we have or selling all we have is of no effect for us concerning salvation.


Verse 28 is interesting. It says a lot about the destiny of these twelve disciples.   Jesus says that when the renewal of all things takes place, and when He sits on His throne, the Twelve  will sit with Him, judging the twelve tribes of Israel . 


The word “judge” does not mean to make a judgment as a judge would do.  It means to rule or to reign over.  Thus the Twelve will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel some day.  


Look also at the phrase  “renewal of all things”.  There’s a certain teaching in the church that says  all things will be restored before Jesus returns to earth.  In fact, the restoration of all things is what prompts Jesus to return, but this isn’t true.  Jesus specifically says that all things will be restored when He sits on His throne.  The question then arises, “when will He sit on His throne”?  Those who hold to the idea that all things will be restored before Jesus returns might suggest that Jesus went to sit on His throne at His ascension.   I do believe that He did sit on His throne then, but there’s another fact to consider in what Jesus said here concerning Him sitting on His throne.


He said that when He sits on His throne these twelve disciples will sit with Him.  Well, they did not sit with Jesus on thrones when Jesus left this earth to be with His Father.  They remained on earth to witness for Jesus.  But at the end of this age, after Jesus returns, they will sit on thrones on this earth as seen in the Book of Revelation.


By saying all of this, Jesus is telling Peter, and the rest, that they will be rewarded for what they have given up.  We may not have the same reward, but we also will be rewarded for the sacrifices we make to follow Jesus.  In verse 29 Jesus pretty well says that.  He says that anyone who has left his family will receive a hundred fold, and in context, that which we will receive is in the next life, not necessarily in this life, although this does not exclude a reward in this life. 


This chapter ends with Jesus saying that many who are first will be last.  By this He means that many who are now first in this world, those who have lots and are in high places will in fact be at the bottom in the next life.  This life is all about serving.  It’s all about storing treasure in the next life.  This life is not about accumulating wealth, but about sharing Jesus and being His representatives.  We’ll get our wealth in the next life, but for those who want their wealth now, they can have it, but by so doing, they forfeit their rewards in the next life.


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