Mark 10:1-16

Title: Faith-filled!

Text: Mark 10.1-16

Let me begin with a story: It was a political time and of course, being outspoken, I waxed eloquent about the sinfulness of abortion, the right to life, and the need for us to pick a leader who would stand for Life! I don’t remember even saying it, but later, Lisa came and spoke to me about what I had said. Someone there at that gathering couldn’t face this judgmental legalist. What was passed on to me through my wife was this: I was right in what I said, but I needed to be aware that when I’m harping on the sinfulness of abortion, there might just be someone in my presence who has experienced it. And for those who had gone through the pain of abortion, their suffering in silence needed my message of hope and forgiveness. My ‘lightning bolts’ and ‘thunderous’ preachingcould be offset with a little bit of rain.

I look back on that time with shame. I wish I could have presented myself with more of God’s grace and mercy. Abortion is wrong, it is murder, but where there is shame, there is mercy and forgiveness, too.

You see, what’s ironic about that is I’m a sinner in need of God’s mercy, too. I don’t think of mercy in areas I’ve never needed it. I’ve never had an abortion nor have I been party to one. But I have knelt before God in need of his mercy, begging for his forgiveness.

Now, You’ve heard the passage read today and you’re probably thinking: uh, oh! Well, I don’t think it will be that bad. Yes, where we have failed, there is a sense of guilt – I say a sense because God’s forgiveness removes our guilt, but it doesn’t remove the feelings – not totally. And if you’re divorced then there is always someone in the church to remind you that you’re a failure. Well, that isn’t the goal here. Because, I wouldn’t say you’re a failure, but rather your marriage failed. There is a huge difference between those two.

I’m not here to cast stones. While it is true that divorce is a very public sin, I want you to know that if you are divorced, you can look around at those here who have never been divorced and know that we have sinned, too. Ours is just hidden. We have failed in that regard. There are folks here who would hear of your divorce, raise their eyebrows in disapproval and then say a secret prayer – please God, don’t let my sin be exposed. Because trust me – we’re all sinners here. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others. Some of us just didn’t get caught in whatever rebellion we were participating in…

So, let me begin with this premise: all of us here today are sinners. I want you to know that we’re not casting stones today. 2nd, some of you are not going to agree with me. I’ve always felt that I’m a conservative – pretty dogmatic about my beliefs. But I’ve changed over the years. I’m not more liberal – not at all. I’ve just come to a place where I don’t accept traditional teaching as readily as I used to. Instead, I’ve searched out the Scriptures to help me formulate my theology – my understanding of what Jesus is really teaching here. I would encourage you to do the same.

I think context gives us what we’re looking for. Taking the words at face value, without context, sets us up for legalism.

Context

Now last week, I had a couple of folks get lost in this phase of establishing the context. I mentioned that there is a cycle that repeats itself three times in 8.22-10.52. Mark is showing us something – he’s giving us context:

You’ll find in each cycle, three key elements:

  1. The Passion Prediction: Jesus will suffer and be mistreated by evil men; they will kill him, but 3 days later he will rise again.
  2. A Zealous Response on the part of the disciples: Peter, John, James & John;
  3. Jesus Teaching on what True Discipleship looks like – misunderstanding what following Jesus means, Jesus then teaches those with him what it means to be a true follower.

Jesus says:

  1. You understand me to be the Messiah. You want to follow me and be like me, good. Let me tell you what the Messiah looks like. I will travel to Jerusalem where I will be betrayed into the hands of sinful men who will shamefully mistreat me and kill me. But, after three days, I will rise again.
  2. The Disciples do not understand what Jesus is saying and demonstrate that with a zealous response:

a. Peter rebuking Jesus.

b. John, rebuking a man who isn’t in their group.

c. James and John ask for positions next to Christ in the new kingdom.

  1. Jesus then says: Uh-Uh… you’re not getting it. Disciples of the Messiah are different than what you’re expecting. They aren’t selfish and self-seeking. They don’t want positions of power and prestige to my right or to my left. They are like me – they give of themselves on behalf of others.

That’s the cycle, and we see it in

  1. 31-9.1; the 2nd in
  2. 30-50; and the final cycle in
  3. 32-45

So, contextually, Jesus is teaching them what the Messiah truly looks like and what disciples or followers of the Messiah look like. That’s our context: What a true disciple of Christ looks like.

Transition: Now, we’re in Chapter 10, verse 1. More detail, more “context” is given here. He moves from private teaching to a more public teaching. Crowds are gathered and the Pharisees are there. Next, what happens is that Christ moves from teaching the crowds to addressing the topic the Pharisees have given him: Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? Here is where it gets quiet. All eyes are focused on him. What will he say?

I think verse one is important in gaining context, because Mark tells us where Jesus is. Do you remember the two men who appeared with Christ when he was transfigured before the disciples on that mountain? Elijah and Moses. This is where both men ended their lives. This place is where a chariot of fire separated Elijah from Elisha and Elijah then went up in a whirlwind to heaven. This is also the place where Moses preached his last sermon – the book of Deuteronomy. This is the topic under discussion – Deuteronomy; and the place Moses was before he marched up Mount Nebo and died.

This is the topic because the Pharisees bring it up. But why? To Test him – this is the same word used of the devil in chapter one, when he was tested, or tempted by the devil in the wilderness when he fasted for 40 days.

Context: What a true disciple looks like in light of the Pharisees testing him; Now, why would they test him?

A Trap is Set: More Context

This is not only the area where Elijah was taken up and where Moses preached his last sermon, but it was also the place where John did his baptizing. He preached against Herod Antipas and Herodias and their immoral relationship. Herod had taken his brothers wife and was shaking up with her. He had tossed the law of God under the bus so that he might fulfill his own selfish desires. Maybe, and I don’t know that this was their motive, but I tie it to this word describing their actions as that of the devil’s in chapter one – maybe they hope he will be like John the Baptist. Maybe they’re hoping Jesus will get on his high horse and criticize the King. If he would do that, they could run to the king and condemn his actions. Which by the way, is what they eventually will do. Not by telling the King that Jesus preached against his immorality, but that Jesus set himself up as a king. And when confronted with this, Pilate sought to set Jesus free, but they said to him, if you do, you’re not friend of Caesar’s. And so Pilate throws it back at them and they say: We have no king, but Caesar!

With this understanding, (they’re trying to trap Jesus as he is teaching the people), Jesus gives them his answer: he answers with a question: rd v 3; What does the Bible say? Rd v 4; “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” Read Deuteronomy 24.1-4:

24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

From that, the Pharisees condense that law down to: “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.

They have missed it. 1st,

  1. They like the part that reads, if then she finds no favor in his eyes…
  2. However, they totally overlook that part that reads, because he has found some indecency in her… the Hebrew word used here for indecency means she was found naked and her behavior improper; the LXX understands this word and translates it in the Greek as he has found her in an ugly affair. Not affair as a euphemism in the 21st Century, but rather meaning matter. So, to be fair, Moses doesn’t say adultery – and that makes sense. That law has already been addressed. She should be put to death. So, it is a serious matter outside of adultery. Just what? We don’t know.

Well, the religious leadership wanted to nail that down – so they outlined what some indecency in her might mean. And they came up with some of the following answers

  • If she burned his meal.
  • If she feeds him food that isn’t Kosher
  • If he finds someone more beautiful than her because she finds no favor in his eyes.

They have missed it because they like the part she finds no favor in his eyes, and they’ve missed it because they skip the part where he finds some indecency in her, and they’ve missed it because

  1. The law here is he may not take her again to be his wife. All the rest are conditions being set.

24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

She is defiled because there is no longer a purity between the 1st husband and the woman. The Religious leadership then took it upon themselves to ignore the law of God and interpret their own desires into God’s law. Eventually making it so that a man could put away his wife simply because he wanted someone different; someone younger, prettier, richer, or whatever!

The Savior knows their hearts; he knows their motives. They aren’t interested in the doctrine of Divorce. They want to trap him. They want him to say something that goes against their traditions and teachings. They want him to upset the King. They want to give him enough rope that he will hang himself. But Jesus doesn’t fall for it. rd v 5;

The Law was given to show us our Sinfulness

The commandment stems from your hard hearts. That was never God’s plan for marriage, for God created marriage. His plan was perfect. His plan for marriage is perfect. It is His idea! Do any other combination outside of this picture and you destroy what God has made. And that is what he teaches us!

 

  • Two men – that’s not marriage – that’s an abomination; punishment: put them to death.
  • Two women – that’s not marriage – that’s an abomination; punishment: put them to death.
  • Adultery – that’s not marriage – that, too is an abomination; punishment: death.

The list goes on: incest, bestiality, fornication, pedophiia – read Leviticus 17-18; The punishment was so severe as to demonstrate to others that God detests something other than what he made. That’s why he gave us His Law – to show us that we are sinners and we need his forgiveness.

 

Rd v 6; this Gk word translated Hold Fast means to be faithfully devoted to; most lit.: to glue to;

Illustration: In the movie Master and Commander of the far side of the World, there is an old, old sailor on the boat. On his hands, right about here, he has letters tattooed on his fingers. HOLD FAST; So, in a storm, when he’s got his hands wrapped around a rope, he’ll never forget and let go!

That is the idea behind what God has planned in marriage – That we would HOLD FAST to the one we’ve committed our lives to… to the one we entered into covenant with – that’d when the storms of life rage upon this storm-tossed sea of our lives, we would not let go because we know to let go would be the death of us!

(Pause)…but somehow, they miss that! Jesus re-iterates three times: rd v 8; 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.” You can’t be any clearer than that!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

The disciples want Jesus to do some clarification. And Jesus answers them plainly: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Keep this statement within the context of the whole story. Don’t isolate this statement and make it the focal point. I don’t think that is what Jesus is doing here. I don’t think Mark is writing this story to us and saying, now forget everything I’ve said and hang your hat on this statement alone. The context of Jesus’ statement is that a Pharisee can’t just be unhappy with his wife because he finds a pretty young lady and then gives her a writ of divorce and sends her away and marry this other lady. If he does, he is committing adultery and if she remarries, he’s causing her to commit adultery.

Let me also say, I’m not saying go ahead and get a divorce at whatever grievance you may have against your spouse.

Let me be very clear – divorce is granted in certain situations – those situations arise out of sinful behavior.

I think what Jesus is teaching here about remarriage in verses 10-12 must be used within the context of the whole passage. When someone today gets a divorce, it doesn’t negate the vows the person took. You stood before God, your family and your friends and you said…

But let’s go back to what Jesus said in the beginning – the Law there is showing us we’re sinful people. Sinful people need forgiveness. That isn’t an excuse! I’m not saying, Go ahead, get your divorce, God will forgive you. Go ahead, get remarried, you can ask for forgiveness. That isn’t how the mercy of God works. Because the truth is divorce is destructive.

The Destructive Nature of Divorce

I find it very interesting that the next topic is Children. They were the passage above and below. Children are so tender and so vulnerable. Children are impressionable and trusting.

I was a child of Divorce. My parents divorced before my 1st birthday, so I never knew a home where my parents lived and loved together. But I lived the struggle in that both of my parents were married three times.

I asked my dad about it once, when I got bold and he was open to the discussion. I asked him if he ever regretted getting divorced. He said he would tell me the answer, but he didn’t want me to get confused. He affirmed his love for my stepmom. He was glad he had me and my little sister – he couldn’t imagine life without us. But, the answer was yes. Now, I have to admit, at that time, it surprised me. Now that I’m older; not so much. But he said that he wished he would have worked through those problems with his 1st wife and never experienced the damage divorce brought.

Faith-Filled Holidays

I began this message with the premise that we’re all sinners and prone to sin. So what can we do to make our marriages and our families stronger? Cornerstone is beginning another initiative: Faith-filled Families.

Show video…

Over the next so many months, we want to give your family, your marriage some tools to help you. The truth is Satan wants to destroy your marriage, he wants to destroy your family. So, we’re going to do our best to help you with your family devotions, with making sure your have devotional ideas and materials for the holidays.

We will provide you recipe cards in Cornerstone. I’m going to send you an email from time to time. Wendy and Phil will be reminding you along the way to be proactive in your marriage and in your family.

Conclusion: Go with what you know. Well, this is what I know for sure:

  1. Your marriage is a picture of the Gospel to others: your children, grandchildren, friends, workers, and the world. Divorce is not a picture of the Gospel. God has given us evidence of his great love for us in so many different wonders of the world. Marriage is one of those. I believe this is one of the reasons the world has done all it can to redefine marriage and to do away with it all together.
  2. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. Sin separates us from God. However, Sexual sin is different in that it involves a broken covenant. It is very serious in God’s eyes. And, it should be serious to us. He created the marriage bond to be a spiritual bond. Bearing false witness hurts. Stealing something hurts others. But sexual sin destroys in a catastrophic way. There is a ripping away, a tearing away of these two fabrics that have become one fabric.
  3. Don’t use his grace as a free pass to sin! Shall I sin all the more that grace may abound? God forbid! Don’t cheapen the grace of God, as Bonheoffer says.
  4. Some of you want to know the answer: Can I get a divorce? Can I get remarried? Should I leave my 2nd spouse? My advice to you is what Paul said to the Corinthians: remain as you are. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. That would be my advice to you – remain as you are.

a. Therefore, if you are married – protect it! Men, don’t be flirtatious. Don’t open that door. Don’t even go near it. Get accountability. Wives, same advice. If you’re feeling the need for someone to tell you how pretty you are or to make you feel attractive – get counseling. You problem will not be solved by another relationship. And ladies, may I just remind you: all men are jerks. They may act like they care, but you’re headed for disaster.

b. If you are divorced, don’t do more damage by getting remarried. John Piper writes: Temporal frustrations and disadvantages are much to be preferred over the disobedience of remarriage, and will yield deep and lasting joy both in this life and the life to come. Being lonely, or sad, or thinking this will help me financially… and the list goes on, are not good reasons to remarry.

c. If you are remarried – Do not divorce again. New promises have been made and should be kept. Yes, you broke commitments before. Just because your previous spouse broke their vows first, doesn’t give you a green light to violate yours. But, You have and here you are. So, seek forgiveness from God for past sins. That’s what grace is all about. Now that is the easy answer – I know that answer probably won’t work in every circumstance. Remember: your tendency is toward sin. Do your best not to go there.

This is not an easy subject – especially with today’s standards (or lack of them in our society). Just remember, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done up to this point, God’s mercy and grace can extend to you right now. Will you receive his grace and mercy? Right where you are just bow your head and ask God to meet you right where you are. Tell him you’re ready to turn your life over to him or back over to him. Let’s pray.

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