Hang onto your hats (gird your loins for you Bibliophiles), because we are now on the road with Jesus heading to the cross. Some of the topics are pretty heady, and some of the bLOGS will be longer. (like this one)
On the Road to Fix
“The Great Divorce!”
And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.
And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:1-12
The journey toward Jerusalem begins. Once again, the crowds gather, including “the testers,” who quiz his views about the lawfulness of divorce. Jesus answers their question with a question (a classic Rabbinic teaching method) asking them what Moses “commanded.” Their answer provides the only provision in the scriptures that is allowable; adultery. Note: Actually, depending on which Rabbinic writers you read, you could also divorce a woman for something as trivial as lousy cooking.
Jesus’ response is interesting. He points out that the caveat the Pharisees cite is an accommodation provided by God for a fallen people. Then he quotes Genesis 2:24, reminding them that God plans that couples be together forever, and no person has the right to break their relationship up. This scenario is ideal, and it sounds like Jesus is saying that divorce should never be allowed. But does this fit the context?
Look at the story; it is a pre-fall of humanity situation. Genesis 2:25 confirms this by declaring the man and woman were naked and had no shame. Then Genesis 3 hits like an earthquake! It speaks about a broken relationship caused by unfaithfulness. Adam and Eve represent the adulteress, God is the faithful spouse, and sin and evil the paramour. Notice that they are ashamed and guilty when confronted by their Beloved, and the consequence is that he casts them out of the house (Eden). But notice he provides “a certificate of divorce” where they will be protected even as they enter the cold hard reality of their circumstances.
Note: In Hebrew culture, divorce was not as uncommon as you think, and the certificate of release (a better translation) was designed to protect both parties; no longer being bound allows him to remarry and provides protection to her so that another could take her in so that she is not homeless and powerless (see Joseph and Mary’s situation – See Matthew 1).
If you think this is a jump, let’s look at this. Throughout the Bible, God is referred to as the groom and humanity as the bride. How often is Israel (humanity) called adulteress, harlot, and more? Which makes more sense; Jesus says divorce is a sin, or is it the result of the original sin? And how many times does Jesus use a metaphor, parable, and allegory?
Now back to Jesus in this passage. He states that fidelity is ideal, but humanity is incapable of perfectly keeping their half of the covenant. And, interestingly, the One who will reverse the course of the “Great Divorce” is on his way to Jerusalem, where true reconciliation between God and humanity will happen. The relationship of Eden is to be restored!
You are the God-given solution to our broken relationship with the Triune God of Grace. Help us to never take this for granted.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I pray in the name of our Savior. Amen!