19 When Jesus finished saying these things, he left Galilee. He went into the area of Judea on the other side of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed him. He healed them there. 3 Some Pharisees came to put him to the test. They asked, “Does the Law allow a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read that in the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’? (Genesis 1:27) 5 He said, ‘That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two will become one.’ (Genesis 2:24) 6 They are no longer two, but one. So a man must not separate what God has joined together.” 7 They asked, “Then why did Moses command that a man can give his wife a letter of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses let you divorce your wives because you were stubborn. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 Here is what I tell you. Anyone who divorces his wife and gets married to another woman commits adultery. A man may divorce his wife only if she has not been faithful to him.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If that’s the way it is between a husband and wife, it is better not to get married.” 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept the idea of staying single. Only those who have been helped to live without getting married can accept it. 12 Some men are not able to have children because they were born that way. Some have been made that way by other people. Others have made themselves that way in order to serve the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept living that way should do it.”
These Pharisees come asking questions, but it’s not because they want to learn anything. I’m guessing they are asking about divorce because they already know what Jesus was teaching in chapter 5:31-32. They are intent on using God’s law to trip Jesus up: to trick him into saying something that will damage him.
These are people with logs in their eyes, determined to find a speck in Jesus’ eye, whether it’s there or not. These are people who are hoping for Jesus to sin, though he warned of the punishment for those who tempt in chapter 18:7.
I’m sure they knew that Moses added restrictions when a man gives a letter of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-2), rather than instituting it, as they said. They would also have known that God hates divorce and the pain it brings (Malachi 2:16). They are distorting God’s word to turn it into a tool for malice.
Unfortunately there are still people like that today.
Jesus handles it so much better than me. Rather than being defensive, responding to their challenge (as I would), he takes the initiative, stating what God’s word does say, what His heart is. Rather than beating around the bush with words designed not to offend (like me), he speaks plainly, accurately identifying the sinful place their argument is coming from. I have a lot to learn from him.
Father, give me the wisdom to know what you think, the words to express it with confidence to those who attack you, and the courage to speak plainly for you with directness and integrity.
Written by David Cornell