Mark 10:1-12
¹Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them.
²Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife.
³And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”
⁴They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
⁵But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
⁶But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
⁷For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, ⁸and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.
⁹What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
¹⁰In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again.
¹¹And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; ¹²and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

Some further information

Our Lord Jesus was an itinerant Preacher. He did not stay long in a place, for the whole land of Canaan was his parish, or diocese, and therefore He would visit every part of it, and give instructions to those in the remotest corners of it.

Here we have Him in the coasts of Judea, by the further side of Jordan eastward, as we found him, not long since, in the utmost borders westward, near Tyre and Sidon.

Thus was his circuit like that of the sun, from whose light and heat nothing is hid. Now here we have him,

We see Jesus here resorted to by the people (Mark 10:1).
Wherever He was, they flocked after Him in crowds; now they came to Him again, as they had done when He had formerly been in these parts, and, as the people wanted to listen to Him, He taught them again. 

Note that preaching was the constant practice of the Christ.
It was what He was used to do, and, wherever He came, He did so, if people were willing to listen.
In Matthew we read that He healed them; here we read that He taught them, so probably both happened there, as His cures were to confirm his doctrine, and to recommend it, and His doctrine was to explain His cures, and illustrate them.

He taught them again. 
Note, that even those whom Christ had taught before, have need to be taught again.

▪︎ Such is the fulness of the Christian doctrine, that there is still more to be learned;
▪︎ and such our forgetfulness, that we need to be reminded of what we do know.

Disputed with the Pharisees

We see Him here again having a disput with the Pharisees, who envied His progress, and did all they could to obstruct and oppose it; to divert him, to perplex him, and to prejudice the people against him.

This time they started with a question concerning divorce (Mark 10:2); Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? 

This was a good question, if it had been well put, and with a humble desire to know the mind of God in this matter; but they proposed it, 
▪︎ tempting Him, 
▪︎ seeking an occasion against Him,
▪︎ and seeking an opportunity to expose Him,

Ministers must stand upon their guard, lest, under pretence of being asked for advice, they may be ensnared.

The Christ replied to them with a question (Mark 10:3); What did Moses command you? 
This He asked them, to testify His respect to the law of Moses, and to show that He came not to destroy it; and to engage them to a universal impartial respect for Moses’s writings and to compare one part of them with another.

The fair account they gave of what they found in the law of Moses, expressly concerning divorce (Mark 10:4).
Jesus then asked, What did Moses command you? 
They answered that Moses only permitted, a man to write his wife a bill of divorce, and to put her away (Deuteronomy 24:1). “If you will do it, you must do it in writing, delivered into her own hand, and so put her away, and never return to her again.’’

In the answer that the Christ gave to their question, He abides by the doctrine He had formerly laid down in this case (Matthew 5:32), That whosoever puts away his wife, except for fornication, causeth her to commit adultery. 

And to clear this He here shows,
● that the reason why Moses, in his law, permitted divorce, was such, as that they ought not to make use of that permission; for it was only for the hardness of their hearts (Mark 10:5), lest, if they were not permitted to divorce their wives, they should murder them; so that none must put away their wives but such as are willing to own that their hearts were so hard as to need this permission.

● He shows that the account which Moses, in this history, gives of the institution of marriage, affords such a reason against divorce, as amounts to a prohibition of it.
So that if the question be, What did Moses command? (Mark 10:3), it must be answered, “Though by a temporary provision he allowed divorce to the Jews, yet by an eternal reason he forbade it to all the children of Adam and Eve, and that is it which we must abide by.’’

○ Moses tells us that God made man male and female, one male, and one female; so that Adam could not put away his wife and take another, for there was no other to take, which was an intimation to all his sons, that they must not. 

○ When this male and this female were, by the ordinance of God, joined together in holy marriage, the law was, that a man must leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife (Mark 10:7); which intimates not only the nearness of the relation, but the perpetuity of it; he shall so cleave to his wife as not to be separated from her ever.

○ The result of the relation is, that, though they are two, yet they are one, they are one flesh (Mark 10:8). The union between them is the most intimate that can be, and, as Dr. Hammond expresses it, a sacred thing that must not be violated.

○ God himself has joined them together; He has not only, as Creator, fitted them to be comforts and helps meet for each other, but He has, in wisdom and goodness, appointed them who are thus joined together, to live together in love till death parts them.
Marriage is not an invention of men, but a divine institution, and therefore is to be religiously observed, and the more, because it is a figure of the mystical inseparable union between the Christ and His church.

Now from all this He infers, that men ought not to put their wives asunder from them, whom God has put so near them. The bond which God Himself has tied, is not to be lightly untied.

They who are divorcing their wives for any offence, would do well to consider what would become of them, if God should in like manner deal with them.(See Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:1)

It was an advantage to the disciples, that they had opportunity of personally, and privately, speaking with the Christ, not only about gospel mysteries, but about moral duties as well, for further satisfaction  (Mark 10:10-12).

No more is here related of this private conference, that the law Christ laid down in this case.
▪︎ That it is adultery for a man to put away his wife, and marry another;
▪︎ it is adultery against the wife he puts away,
▪︎ it is a wrong to her,
▪︎ it is a breach of his contract with her (Mark 10:11).

He adds, If a woman shall put away her husband, that is, leave him by consent, and be married to another, she commits adultery (Mark 10:12), and it will be no excuse at all for her to say that it was with the consent of her husband.

Wisdom and grace, holiness and love, reigning in the heart, will make those commands easy which to the carnal mind may be as a heavy yoke.

Now let us reflect on this

Trying out
In schools it often happens:
• Just try out the teacher.
• Let’s see how far you can go before he goes down.
• Who is the strongest and the smartest?

That’s what the Pharisees are doing here to Jesus.
The divorce issue has been wisely chosen (Mark 10:2).

▪︎ If Jesus says that you may divorce, then He goes against the Ten Commandments and is therefore wrong (Exodus 20:14).
▪︎ If He says that it is not allowed, people will turn away from his teachings.
A difficult position!

But Jesus does not fall for it.
He knows the intention of the question, and also the questioners themselves.

That Moses allows to send your wife away with a bill of divorce is a concession, an adjustment to the human situation, in which it may indeed be impossible to continue to live together.

But that was never God’s intention (Compare Malachi 2:15-16).
The Lord intended marriage to allow two people to enter life together, and to fulfill His role for their lives together.
That this sometimes doesn’t work out as it should, has everything to do with sin and brokenness.
Especially with a lack of love.
Love for each other, but also for God.
It happens, it is a reality, but it is not meant to be that way (Mark 10:5-9; Genesis 2:24).

The bill of divorce was an opportunity to divorce properly (Mark 10:4,5; Deuteronomy 24: 1-4). But they also took advantage of it, to get out of God’s law, to avoid having to follow His intention. And that’s what Jesus points out here:

What do you really want?
Submit to God’s purpose for your life, or secretly try to get out of it?

That choice also applies to the Pharisees who ask this question.
Do they really recognize Jesus as a Teacher who teaches God’s purposes, or are they trying to get rid of Him?
They intended to bring Him down, but they failed.

Jesus clings to God’s purposes and wants to teach His disciples and also us, to submit our lives to Him without reservation.

He is still on his way to Jerusalem, on his way to the cross.
He is completely obedient to God (Compare Hebrews 5: 7-9). How about us?

Questions for self-reflection

▪︎ Why do people so often try to get out of God’s will with excuses?
▪︎ How is that with you?

Prayer suggestions

▪︎ Ask God to help you to submit yourself completely to His will.

Twitter: @SchoemakerHarry
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