1464.) Matthew 19

“With God All Things Are Possible” by American artist Mark Lawrence, 2008.

Matthew 19   (NRSV)

Teaching about Divorce

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there.

3Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?”

Divorce was a controversial topic in Jesus’ day, with two main schools of thought, centered around two of its most famous proponents. The first was the school of Rabbi Shammai (a strict and unpopular view) and second was the school of Rabbi Hillel (a lax and popular view).  The school of Rabbi Shammai understood that uncleanness meant sexual immorality, and said this was the only valid reason for divorce. The school of Rabbi Hillel understood uncleanness to mean any sort of indiscretion; even to the point where for some rabbis, burning a husband’s breakfast was considered valid grounds for divorce.

–David Guzik

4He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?”

8He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce.  The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.

–Robert Anderson

10His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

11But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. 12For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children

"Let The Children Come,"  by Liz Lemon Swindle

“Let The Children Come,” by
Liz Lemon Swindle

13Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; 14but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” 15And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

We Pray for Children

We pray for children
Who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
Who like to be tickled,
Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
Who sneak Popsicles before supper,
Who erase holes in math workbooks,
Who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
Who can’t bound down the street in new sneakers,
Who never “counted potatoes,”
Who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead  in,
Who never go to the circus,
Who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
Who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
Who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those
Who never get dessert,
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
Who can’t find any bread to steal,
Who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
Whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
Who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
Who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
Who don’t like to be kissed in front of the car pool,
Who squirm in church and scream on the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything,
Who have never seen a dentist,
Who are never spoiled by anyone,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children
Who want to be carried
And for those who must,
For those we never give up on
And for those who never get a second chance,
For those we smother.
And for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind
enough to offer it.

We pray for children. Amen.

–Ina Hughes

The Rich Young Man

16Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

18He said to him, “Which ones?”

And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

20The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?”

21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

We may make two mistakes here. The one is to believe this applies to everyone, when Jesus never made this a general command to all who would follow Him, but especially to this one rich man whose riches were clearly an obstacle to his discipleship. Instead, many rich people can do more good in the world by continuing to make money and using those resources for the glory of God and the good of others. The second mistake is to believe this applies to no one, when there are clearly those today for whom the best thing they could do for themselves spiritually is to radically forsake the materialism that is ruining them.

–David Guzik

22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

“For he had great possessions” by George Frederic Watts, 1894 (Tate Gallery, London)

23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

One of Jesus’ best metaphors!  I have read that the “Eye of the Needle” was actually a small gate in Jerusalem, or that the word for “camel” is mistranslated and should be “cable.”  Either may be true, but I choose to take the sentence at face value.  I think Jesus just meant it to be outrageous, to get us thinking how useless riches are when it comes to us trying to seek God.

1 Timothy 6:17-19   (ESV)

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

27Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”

28Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “One Life to Love”  by the group 33 Miles, a contemporary Christian band  with country music influences, from Franklin, Tennessee.
_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Lawrence.    http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0008/5612/products/Matthew_19_23-24_sm_1024x1024.jpeg?103601
heart of divorce.  http://www.thechangeblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/windowslivewriterwhatmotivatesme-b104divorce4.jpg
Swindle.    http://www.foundationarts.com/p-9040-let-the-children-come.aspx?affiliateid=10199
Watts.   http://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/sites/default/files/Assets/500/GFW_For_He_Had_Great_Possession.jpg
camel and needle.    http://up-link.org/images/CamelNeedle.jpg
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