Day 29 – Let Not Man Put Asunder

I noticed in today’s Matthew passage that the Pharisees once more come to Jesus and try to trick him. It seemed to me that in this Gospel, they keep coming to Jesus to either accuse or trick or question him.

I was so curious about this, I went back through Matthew and discovered that the Pharisees (and/or Sadducees) have approached Jesus 9 times already. I imagine one reason for this is that Matthew was writing to the Jews and wanted to present Jesus’ responses for other Jews to read (who may have the same concerns).

I also noticed something I’ve never seen before: Jesus addresses marriage and divorce twice in Matthew. The first time, he includes the topic in the Sermon on the Mount.  This time, Jesus responds to the Pharisees. Maybe they’d heard what Jesus said on the Mount and wanted to use his comments as a basis for “tricking” him.

Apparently (my sources say), the Pharisees interpreted Moses two different ways. Some said men can divorce their wives for practically any old reason (“she has a zit on her nose”). Others said that adultery was the only grounds for divorce, but that in such situations, it was mandated. Both groups were trying to see if Jesus would disagree with Moses.

Jesus responds that God’s intent was always that marriage was for a lifetime and that remarriage after divorce is a form of adultery, unless the grounds for divorce is adultery itself. Even then, the divorce is not mandated, but optional. Of course, Paul opens the door for divorce a bit wider.

Nothing very convicting here (yet), but interesting to me.

The one part of the passage that got to me was this ( and only the King James with minor modifications works for me here):

[Jesus] said unto them, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they [two] shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more [two], but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19: 4-6 NIV)

I think it’s good to remember – for me at least –  that a married couple is a single unit. That when it’s ripped apart, it’s like tearing apart a body. How violent! How final! How sad…

On the flip side, it IS a single unit. It’s so easy for me to forget the holy nature of marriage, that it’s not me vs. him or me & him, it’s a unit, a reflection of creation and of the trinity. There’s something mysterious to marriage even when it feels all too mundane.

Ok, too convicting after all… Til tomorrow.

Readings:  Exodus 7:1-8:32, Psalm 17:1-5, Proverbs 5:15-20, Matthew 19:1-30. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.

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