Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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PENTECOST 20 – October 7, 2018 – Mark 10:2-16 “DIVORCE: TESTING JESUS”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from  Mark 10.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

 

  • Often when Jesus was asked questions, they were difficult, and intended to trip Him up. Often the questions originated from the wrong perspective, or were based on suppositions that seemed obvious but were untrue.
  • Take for example, the time the crowds asked Jesus what they should be doing to be doing the works of God. Jesus directed them to the work that God was doing – bringing people to believe in Him, so that by faith they might have eternal life. [Jn. 6:29]
  • This was also true in the incident recorded in our text. The Pharisees didn’t ask Jesus about the blessings of marriage and its sanctity.  They asked Him when it is permissible – okay in the eyes of God – to divorce.  Jesus answered and corrected them by referring them back to the gift of marriage given to mankind in the beginning.
  • This is a very common human characteristic, and we should be aware of it and very wary of it. We want something, or to engage in something, but we know it might be wrong.  In fact, we do know that it is wrong.  But we explore ways in which it might be justified to do the wrong.  We also invent “suppositions” that seem true, but are not.
  • This is how we got to the point of legalizing abortions. This is how we got to the point of sexual liberation – birth control, living together without benefit of marriage, children born out of wedlock. 
  • And this is also how we got to the point of the ridiculous and absurd – people of the same sex supposedly “marrying” one another. But in order to rationalize this the whole concept of “marriage” – which is biblical and originates from the beginning, having been established by God – has to be ignored and scrapped altogether.
  • So we must take care in our own lives, to carefully examine both the assumptions in our heart, and our desires, which may very well be deeply sinful, as well as the Word of God. For we also, like many sinful human beings, may wonder whether and  when it might be permissible for us to divorce, to dismiss our spouse.  So let us review:

 

I.  Marriage Is A Blessed Gift From God

 

A.  It Is Between A Man And A Woman, Who Are Joined Together By God And Become One Flesh

 

Text:  “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 they shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

 

B.  The Purpose Is Human Companionship And For The Procreation Of Children – Who Although They Are Challenging At Times Are A Great Blessing To Us And Others

 

OT Lesson:  “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

 

Gen. 1:27,28  “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

 

C.  So There Is To Be No Will Or Desire For Divorce – The Certificate Of Divorce Was Only A Concession To Our Grievous Sin

 

Text:  “They answered Jesus, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.’  Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.   But from the beginning it was not so.'”

 

Statement:  You see what a blessed and beautiful gift this is from God.  And you should also see that any thoughts we have toward divorce are utterly wicked, hard-hearted, and evil.  And of course, the sin which compels and inflames such thoughts is a two-way street.  Our spouse is not perfect, and so we sinfully conclude that we would be warranted in seeking to replace him/her.  We approach the pain and disappointment from the wrong perspective – thinking that divorce is an option, when in God’s eyes it should never be an option.

 

Application:  So we must correctly and honestly identify this sin and evil in our hearts and repent of it, seeking earnestly God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness.  For it is a great evil to call God’s great and blessed gift to us an evil that we should be rid of.  And such evil, if it is not repented of, leads to even greater evil, as Jesus explained to His disciples:  “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

 

But if we do confess our sins to God, He has promised to be faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  For as explained in the Epistle Lesson:  “Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  For it is fitting that He, for Whom and by Whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.  For He Who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin.” 

 

Transition:  So let us understand that:

 

II.  To Contemplate Or Ask About The Permissibility Of Divorce Shows That The Heart Is In The Wrong Place, Hardened And Calloused

 

Text:  “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.”

 

III.  Instead, Rejoice In Your Marriage – God Has Joined You Together, Made You One; Do Not Separate!    

 

Text:  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.   So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

 

Statement:  Once we have the right perspective, and the correct suppositions, we can easily distinguish our sinful thoughts from our pure and correct thoughts.   This is critical when it comes to the matter of marriage, but also when contemplating a host of other desires and choices that come up in our hearts and minds.  In that sin and rejection of the good and gracious will of God, as revealed in Holy Scripture, the Bible, always leads to greater unhappiness and misery, these considerations are critical.  It is always about “our happiness,” when tempted by evil.  The teachings of God’s Word are also always about our greater and ultimate happiness.

 

Application:  So let us take stock of our own hearts and minds, and be wary of our desires and our “rationalizing.”  Like the Scripture warns:  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”  [Prov. 3:5-7]  This, and this alone, will deliver us from evil, and from the dire consequences of rebelling against God’s Word.

 

Conclusion:  When asking questions of God, take time to look very carefully at the question, and the suppositions underlying it.  By so doing, we will often get the right answer before “testing” God. 

 

If there is evil in our thoughts, desires, and questions, let us by all means humbly repent and seek God’s forgiveness.  If we do so earnestly, He will surely cleanse us from all sin and guilt. 

 

Then let us take up the challenges of His Word – especially in our marriage – to see it for the great blessing that it is, to cherish our spouse regardless of what weaknesses they may have, and to devote ourselves to faithfulness to the vows we have spoken.  And let us do the same with all of the other questions that arise in our hearts and minds!  Let us consult God’s Word and submit to it, not to our own understanding.  In all of this we will be pleasing to God, and richly blessed by Him.  God grant it to us all.  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding,  shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.