Divorce and Marriage (10:1-12)
Pharisees test Jesus on divorce
Moses’ law on divorce (3-4)
God’s teaching on marriage (5-12)
Little Children and the Kingdom of God (10:13-16)
The disciples rebuke people who
were bringing little children to Jesus (13)
Teachings from little children
To Enter the Kingdom of God
A rich man asks about eternal
Keeping the commandments (18-20)
Selling everything and follow
Hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (23-27)
The rewards of following Jesus
Divorce, permitted, hardness of
heart, one flesh, adultery, children, kingdom of God, eternal life,
commandments, sell everything, treasure, follow, impossible, possible,
hundred-fold, first, last
1. As was their custom, the
Pharisees came up with a question to trap Jesus. If Jesus said, “It is not
lawful,” He would be contradicting the Mosaic law. If
He said, “It is lawful,” He would be in conflict with those who believed that
divorce was not permissible except for sexual sins.
2a. The Pharisees asked about
divorce, but Jesus answered them with teachings on marriage. Instead of
contemplating the possibility of divorce, we must live up to God’s intention
for the institution of marriage.
2b. God commands us to do certain things that are good for us. But He
knows our struggle with our flesh, and permits certain things in forbearance of
our weakness (Rom 3:25-26). However, even if everything is permissible, not
everything is beneficial (1Cor 10:23-24). If we do not strive to live by the
Holy Spirit, we “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
2c. God commanded that a man be “joined to his wife” (Gen 2:24). Jesus
clarified the command—“What God has joined together, let not man separate” (9).
God says unequivocally that He hates divorce (Mal 2:16). Paul also taught
against divorce (1Cor 7:10-11). The Pharisees, on the other hand, emphasized
what was permitted rather than what God had originally commanded.
The law (cf. Deut 24:1-4) actually
made divorce a serious, irrevocable decision. In fact, the thrust of the
passage in Deuteronomy is not on divorce, but on the prohibition against
remarriage in the event of a divorce. This Mosaic provision was God’s
forbearance with (and not His endorsement of) “the hardness of your heart” (5).
3. When we get caught up in what
is permitted and what is not, we become preoccupied with the letter of the law,
instead of focusing on what God has commanded us to do in the first place. We
would be like the Pharisees, arguing over “loopholes” in biblical teachings.
Rather, we must strive to live by the two commandments that incorporate “all
the law and the prophets”—to love God, and to love our neighbor (Mt 22:37-40).
5a. Marriage—Our relationship to God is one of
everlasting commitment. God will not break His vow with us as long as we stay
faithful. We must obey our Head Jesus Christ. As a bride preparing for the
groom, we must be prepared to meet Him in the future.
5b. Adultery—We worship God but we still hold
on to the world. God is a jealous God who wants us to be faithful to His
teachings and commandments with all our hearts. However, sometimes we want to
serve two masters (Mt 6:24) and commit adultery against Him.
5c. Divorce—Our severance from God when we sin
and turn away from Him. When our sins fill His wrath, God will reject us and
divorce us. It would be like the Israelites who turned away from God; they lost
God’s protection and became captives.
6a. They probably thought Jesus had more
important things to do than to be bothered by children. Jesus was angry because
they forgot His teachings on welcoming the little children (9:37).
6b. In our zeal to serve God, it is easy to
lose sight of why we serve. In the interest of efficiency, we might neglect the
needs of those who seem unimportant. Getting things done might become more
important than caring for the needs of the believers. Jesus warns us against
looking down on the little ones (Mt 18:10).
7a. These are non-issues to a child. A young
child probably does not even comprehend the concept of divorce, let alone think
about whether or not it is lawful. A little child just wants his mommy and
daddy to be together. Also, a child has few, if any, possessions. It is not as
difficult to give up what little he or she has in exchange for something much
better (“treasure in heaven” ). That is why Jesus teaches us to become like
little children (Mt 18:3).
7b. innocent, trusting, owns few things, etc. Also, Paul teaches us to
live as children of light (Eph 4:25-32). The qualities he describes are the
ones we used to have as children or new believers but often lose when we grow
8. God wants all to be saved (1Tim
2:4). When we hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, we receive the kingdom of God.
How we respond to God’s message determines whether or not we can enter that
kingdom. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).
We must adopt the qualities of a
child. When we humble ourselves before God, He will guide and protect us, like
a father cares for his child. The kingdom
of God is revealed to the
little children (Lk 10:21). With the help of the Holy
Spirit, we can continue to aim for the goal (Php
3:14) until we enter the kingdom
9. Children need to know Jesus
just as much as adults. Whether you are a parent or a religious education
teacher or a big brother or sister, it is your job to plant God’s teachings
into your children’s heart (Deut 6:6-7; Prov 22:6).
We must teach the Bible to our children at home, and take them to church
services even when they are little.
10a. Rich man—Obey
the commandments (20); find a good teacher (17).
10b. Disciples—Jesus requires
10c. Peter—Proud that he had
already left everything and followed Jesus (28). Perhaps he feels that he
deserved to be saved.
11. 1. The ruler addressed Jesus as a good teacher
probably because he measured Jesus’ goodness with human standards. Because of
his misunderstanding of goodness, the ruler believed that he may inherit
eternal life with the good deeds that he had done. So the Lord corrected him by
referring him to God’s goodness, emphasizing that no one is “good” except God
alone. In other words, no one can be justified before God by his goodness.
2. Jesus might have wanted the
man to recognize Him for who He really was. Jesus was not just another “good
teacher” (“good” by human standards). Jesus’ goodness transcended all human
goodness. The man should have recognize that Jesus was
God Himself, and the goodness that he saw in Jesus could only be attributed to
12. Keep all the commandments (18-19), sell everything and give to the
poor (21), take up the cross and follow Jesus (21). If it sounds impossible,
remember that all things are possible with God (27). Today, with the help of
the Holy Spirit, it is possible to live up to God’s higher standards.
13. Strengths: managed his life well, in spite of his young age (Mt
19:20), eager to seek the truth (ran after Jesus as Jesus was leaving), humble
(fell on his knees before Jesus), knew the importance of eternal life, kept the
Weaknesses: saw Jesus only as a
good teacher; could not give up his many possessions
14a. Jesus told him what he lacked
and provided a solution for his deficiency. (In the same way, the Lord Jesus
has also sent His Holy Spirit to us to reveal our sins to us and to teach us
how to live by the truth [Jn 16:7,13]).
man had accomplished much on his own; he managed his wealth and he kept God’s
commandments. But he left because Jesus exposed a void in his character (he
could not give up his wealth). It was beyond his abilities. However, he could
have asked Jesus to help him overcome his weakness (cf. 9:24). If he had spent
more time with Jesus, he would have learned about how much he would be blessed
if he followed Christ (30).
reason that if we don’t have to worry about our livelihood, it would be easy
for us to obey God’s commandments. Common excuses we hear are: “If I didn’t
have to work so hard, I’d come to church more often.” “If I were rich, I’d
offer more money to the church.” “I’ll do more church work after I retire.”
15b. Jesus first said how hard it
is for those “who have riches” (23) to enter the kingdom of God. In response to
the disciples’ amazement, Jesus said how hard it is for those “who trust in
riches” (24) to enter the kingdom
of God. This seems to
imply that the disciples were the ones who trusted in riches; they assumed it
was easier for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus taught them that it was the opposite.
person’s riches do not disqualify him from eternal life. However, the more we
have, the harder it is to give up everything for Jesus. It is impossible to
serve God and money at the same time (Mt 6:24). “Where your treasure is, there
you heart will be also” (Mt 6:21). If the world is too valuable to us, it is
impossible to enter the kingdom
of God (Lk 9:57-62).
In fact, without Jesus Christ, it
is impossible for anyone (rich or poor) to be saved. The rich man appeared
blameless in the eyes of men, but he fell short by Jesus’ standards. No one is
righteous before God (Rom 3:10-11).
tend to cherish our desires, but being a disciple of Christ requires us to
forsake what is valuable to us. We must give up our claim of ownership. We are
just managers who have been put in charge to use God’s possessions at the
proper time (Lk 12:42-44).
Peter did not literally sell
everything he had, but he did leave his possessions behind to follow Jesus
(1:18). He offered what he had to Jesus; his house became a place where Jesus
taught and healed. Likewise, before we can claim to lay down our life for a
brother, we must first help him meet his daily needs (1Jn 3:16-18).
15e. Jesus teaches us to have the
correct priorities. If we seek first the kingdom of God,
there is no need to worry about our life (Mt 6:25, 33). The Holy Spirit gives
us the insight that only Jesus Christ has surpassing value (Php
3:7-8). Having riches in life is a means to an end, not the end itself. We must
not trust in riches, but use them wisely to serve God.
Abraham (Jas 2:23), Job (Job 1:8),
and Cornelius (Acts 10:4) are examples of rich men who nurtured a relationship
with God and used their resources to help those around them.
16. There are many testimonies of believers who choose to honor God
above their income. They close their businesses on Saturdays (the most
profitable days) so that they can observe the Sabbath service. Not only did God
spare them from financial hardship, He actually increased their income. Other
kinds of present rewards for keeping God’s command include a close daily walk
with Christ, a blissful family, fellowship with other
believers, peace and joy in our hearts, meaning in life, mature spiritual
Even greater are the blessings
that await us. Abraham obeyed God and left his homeland because God promised to
make him into a great nation (Heb 11:8). Because he walked by faith, God gave
him countless earthly and spiritual descendants. Not only is he the father of
the circumcised Jews, he is also the father of everyone who shares his faith
(Rom 4:11-12). Like Abraham, we must understand that we are “strangers on
earth” (Heb 11:13). Then we can look forward to “a better country” (Heb 11:16),
where we will enjoy the greatest blessing - eternal life.
17. Jesus is with us when we are persecuted because of our faith (Mt
5:10-12; 1Pet 4:13-14). Our suffering has value when we see the church grow (Col 1:24). Through
suffering, we learn to turn to God (Zech 13:9). God uses persecution to refine
our faith (1Pet 1:7).
18. In this context, the first and the last refers to our priority on
earth, and our reward in heaven. Those who are first on earth will be last in
God’s kingdom—those who value what they own will be last to enter the kingdom
of God (if at all). If we have riches and honor but not spiritual
understanding, we are “like the beasts that perish” (Ps 49:20). On the other
hand, those who are last on earth will be first in God’s kingdom—those who are
willing to give up everything to follow Christ will be first to enter God’s
kingdom. Like little children, they might seem insignificant or even foolish in
the world, but they will receive great rewards on earth and eternal life in