Matthew 19 Questions and Answers, Jesus talked about Divorce and giving up everything
1. Jesus now left Galilee. What area did He go to? Why do you think Jesus is heading in that direction?
- Jesus went to the region of Judea and on to the other side of the Jordan
- Jesus was heading towards Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and to do what He came to earth to do - to die for our sins.
2. What did Jesus do in that area?
- Many people followed him and he healed them.
- Some Pharisees came to test Jesus but He answered them
3. What question was posed to Jesus? By whom?
- The Pharisees asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" You notice they didn't ask if it was lawful for a person (which would include women) to divorce their spouse.
- In the eyes of Jewish law, a woman was a thing - a possession of her father or husband and technically had no legal rights.
- The Jewish women never initiated a divorce. A woman could be divorced without her consent, but a man could only be divorced with his consent. However, if a man divorced is wife on any other grounds except immorality he must return her dowry. Even with that, the bill of divorcement was a simple one sentence statement that the husband dismissed his wife and she was now free to marry another husband.
- The courts might put pressure on a man to divorce his wife if he refused to consummate the marriage, was impotent or not able to support his wife properly.
- A wife could force her husband to divorce her if he contracted a disease like leprosy or tried to make her leave the Holy Land.
- There were 2 groups of Jewish rabbis and they were divided as to what reasons were ok for divorce to occur. One said, only if there was immorality involved and the other group said any reason will do. So when the Pharisees came to Jesus with the question they were really trying to get Jesus into a controversy as to whether he favored the strict or lax Rabbinical view of divorce.
- Under Rabbinic law divorce was compulsory for 2 reasons: adultery and sterility for 10 years. If a man had a bad wife, it was his religious duty to divorce her. However, desertion, or insanity were not grounds for divorce.
4. What answer did Jesus give the Pharisees? What is God's ideal for marriage?
- In the beginning God made male and female and told the man to leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and the two would become one flesh. Since God joined the two together into one, let no one split apart what God has joined together. (like gluing a salt and pepper shaker together or paper) You try separating them and you will destroy both.
- Jesus went back, not to the law but to the principle and example of Adam and Eve, that the ideal of marriage is a union which cannot be broken and therefore divorce is wrong. If marriage is only seen as fulfilling physical desire, it is doomed to failure. Marriage is given that the two should not just satisfy their physical desire but do all things together - sharing all the circumstances of life.
- Marriage is the total union and completing of two personalities and should not narrow life but bring a new fullness, satisfaction and contentment in life. We could conclude that marriage is togetherness based on considerateness - thinking more of their spouse than themselves. Selfishness kills relationships. Where there is love, there is a desire to serve, understand, forgive, and forget self.
- Just as God didn't divorce His people when they were unfaithful, and Hosea was not allowed to divorce Gomer when she had been unfaithful, but to try to win her back, God expects that from us too.
- The Jewish term for marriage meant that the husband and wife were consecrated to each other - and they became the exclusive possession of the other.
5. What did the Pharisees say that Moses commanded? Was that true?
- That Moses had commanded that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away. (Deut 24:1)
- But Moses only permitted (not commanded) the men to divorce their wives as a concession because their hearts were hard. But right from the beginning that isn't what God had intended. In fact, anyone who divorces his wife, except for fornication (unlawful lust of either sex, including adultery and incest), and marries another woman commits adultery. Some manuscripts add And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
- And they all knew that adultery was punishable by death. (Leviticus 20:10) So those who were looking for approval from Jesus to be able to divorce their spouse would not have been happy with Jesus' answer.
- God is not interested in divorce but in restoration of relationships.
- Marriage is designed by God for His glory and for our benefit and is to be a lifelong commitment.
6. Compare Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:8-9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18. What are the differences and why? Why would it be considered adultery if a person remarries?
- Matthew 5:31-32 - 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality/fornication ( all kinds of gross sexual immorality), makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. In Bible times women could not take care of themselves, so if they were sent away with a letter of divorce, she would have to either return home or get remarried to be taken care of.
- Matthew 19:8-9 - "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." (not necessarily a divorced woman)
- Mark 10:11-12 - "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." - Mark is writing to Gentiles where the woman was allowed to divorce their husbands. Mark also leaves out the last phrase about marrying a divorced person commits adultery and doesn't include the exception clause.
- Luke 16:18 - "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. No exception clause.
- Jesus considered remarriage adultery, unless the spouse died or the spouse was immoral, because God never cancelled the first marriage. Divorce does not really do away with a marriage. A marriage is cancelled when one of the spouses die. So Jesus' explanation of what adultery included would have been sobering because in the past adultery was punishable by death. Eg. David was adulterous and his son through that relationship was killed. That is why rules became more lax and more loopholes were found that would not cause of person to be considered adulterous.
7. With Christ's sobering answer what conclusion did the disciples come to concerning marriage? Why?
- It would be better to not marry
- Why do you think they would have come to that conclusion? According to God, there was no way out of the marriage, unless the wife had during the engagement or after marriage became unfaithful.
- Only a Christian can accept the Christian ethic - to build up the personal relationship which the ideal marriage demands. The Christian ideal of marriage involves the prerequisite that the partners are Christian.
- This shows that 2 people should not enter marriage lightly, they should both be growing Christians, they should resolve past issues, and work on emotional and spiritual intimacy before marriage and physical after marriage. That would protect a couple from unnecessary and unexpected surprises and pain after they were married. If every couple would do this, there probably wouldn't be very many divorces.
8. Do people have to be married to feel whole? What does Jesus have to say about those who decide to not marry?
- Jesus says that not all people choose to be married because they want to devote themselves to serving the Lord. Also, not all people want to remain single - they feel a need to get married and that is ok too.
- Jesus honored celibacy just as He honored marriage.
- Some people who chose to remain unmarried so they could fulfill a vocational commitment to service for God were: Jesus, Paul (1 Cor 7:1, 7-9), daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8,9)
9. What should be our attitude towards those who are single, either because they chose that or because they never received a marriage proposal, or have become widowed or divorced?
- They are complete people that have unique and special gifts and need love and care and friendship like anyone else does.
- For the Jews, to not be married by 20, except to concentrate on the study of the law was to break the command to be fruitful and multiply and lessened the image of God on the earth.
10. Read Matthew 19:13-15. Why did the parents bring their children to Jesus?
- To have Jesus place His hands on the children and pray for them. They had no doubt seen what Jesus' hands could do and wanted those kinds of hands to touch their children. (Mark 10:16 says He blessed them)
11. What was the disciple's attitude towards the parents who brought the children?
- They scolded the parents for bothering Jesus. Why would they have done that? To protect Jesus, because they loved Him. They wished to save Jesus from being to busy and from getting exhausted.
12. What was Jesus' attitude towards the children?
- Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."
- To Jesus no one is a bother or a nuisance.
- He placed His hands on the children's heads and blessed them.
13. How do you view children? Are they a bother or a blessing? Do you enjoy taking time for them or are they an interruption?
14. Read Matthew 19:16-26. How did the man who came to Jesus think he could get eternal life? What kind of a man was he? (See also Luke 18:18). How did he come to Jesus? (Mark 10:17)
- He calls Jesus a morally good teacher whose life demonstrates that He probably walked with God and knew the secrets of eternal life.
- The man thought that by doing something, like a good deed he could receive eternal life - He was like the Pharisees thinking in terms of keeping rules and regulations. - He knew nothing about grace.
- He was a rich, young man whom Luke calls a ruler.
- Jesus answers the man in his own terms.
- He came running and fell on his knees before Jesus - there was an urgency in wanting to know the answer to how to get eternal life and he felt he had a need (ripe for evangelism). He was humble, serious, motivated and anxious.
- 1 John 5:11, 20 tells us "This is the record that God hath given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son..., "In His Son Jesus Christ, this is the true God and eternal life." So Jesus not only was the source of eternal life, He was that eternal life. And so this young man came to the right source.
15. What did Jesus say was the way to receive eternal life?
- Keep the commandments of the only One (God) who is good. Follow God's way.
- Which commands? 'You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Jesus only dealt with 5 of the 10 commandments that dealt with our attitudes and relationships with others (not to God) & he put the honoring father & mother out of order and added loving your neighbour.) I wonder if Jesus was stressing the honoring of parents -as a rich person could he have been using Korban?
- The word "Eternal life" in this verse does not mean lasting forever but a life that is fitting to God or such as is characteristic of God - which is loving and giving. Eternal life is not just a long time of living, eternal life is a quality of being alive to God, a quality of possessing the life of God, of being aware of the environment of the divine. Eternal life in the biblical sense is the process of communing with the living God in an unending communion. And that this young man wanted.
16. How did the man rate himself with what Jesus told him?
- He had obeyed all those commandments. Perhaps in the legal sense and outwardly he had kept at least the commandments from the Ten Commandments Jesus lists, but to say he loved his neighbour as himself is pushing it. Maybe that is why Jesus challenged him to sell all and give to the poor. If he really loved his neighbour as much as he loved himself, he would be glad to have his neighbours (poor people) have everything he had.
- The point of Jesus bringing in the law was to show that he wasn't perfect and had offended a holy God.
- The young man however didn't seem to catch why Jesus was telling him to obey the commandments and he thought he had done well and yet he still felt there was something lacking so wondered what else he had to do.
- The rich young ruler knew that he didn't have the life of God in his soul. He knew that he really didn't understand God fully. He knew that he didn't walk with God, commune with God. He was very perceptive and gone beyond the Pharisees who were content with their own musings and praying to themselves. He was not. He knew it was a quality of life which he missed.
17. What was the man lacking?
- Jesus takes the focus off of the man's felt need and puts it on God. And tries to show this young man that the real problem in his life is not what he doesn't have in his heart but it's what he's doing to offend a holy God. And when He says to him, "You keep the commandments," He is beginning to take this young man and put him up against the divine standard so that he'll see that he comes short.
- Nobody understands what grace means unless he understands what law requires. No one understands mercy unless they understand guilt. The man couldn't be saved because he didn't recognize and wouldn't confess his sin. Confession of sin, repentance, turning from sin is an utter essential in salvation.
- What was the sin of this young man? Covetousness, indulgence, materialism, wealth, etc. And he was indifferent to people who were poor and people who were in need.
- Jesus told him if he wanted to be perfect (experience the quality of being alive to God & possessing the life of God), he needed to sell all his possession and give the money to the poor and he would have treasure in heaven. He needed to change his attitude towards his possessions as being given to him for nothing more than his own comfort and convenience to his possessions being given as a means to helping others.
- He was lacking the love and generosity that God and Jesus showed to others. He loved his possessions more than others.
- Once he chose to obey Jesus' command to sell all, He was invited to come and follow Jesus, which he chose not to do.
18. How did the man respond to Jesus' answer and invitation?
- He went away sad for he had many possessions. He was materialistic. He wanted to do something, but Jesus hit the nail on the head as to what his real love was. He wanted Jesus and his possessions, but Jesus asked him to give up all so he could follow Jesus 100%.
- As much as Jesus loved the young man and as much as He was not willing that he perish, He still wouldn't take him on his terms. He had to have him understand his utter sinfulness. But there was no mourning, sorrowing over sin or the sense of having violated a holy God.
19. Do you ever feel there is something lacking in your own life? If so, what do you think it might be? What do you think Jesus may be asking you to do about that?
20. Do you have to give away everything you have to receive eternal life?
- No. The Lord didn't say that to other folks. But you have to be willing to do whatever the Lord asks you to do and that will be different for each person.
21. How hard is it for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? Why?
- It is very hard for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven but not impossible. Eg. Zacchaeus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus were rich and they entered the kingdom of heaven.
- In fact it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle, than a rich man to enter Heaven. The camel was the largest known animal for the Jews, and the little gate in a walled city beside the main gate was called "The Needle's eye" and was so small that a man could hardly get through standing up. So, it is about as hard for a rich man to enter Heaven as a big camel to get through the Needle's Eye.
- It is so hard for a rich man to enter Heaven because:
- Riches encourage a false independence - don't need God.
- Where your treasure is, your heart is so if all you desire is here on earth you have no interest in heavenly things or think about heaven.
- Riches tend to make a person selfish - the more you have, the more you want. And when you are wealthy you worry about losing what you have.
- Riches do not shut a person out of heaven, and riches are not a sin but they are a danger.
22.How then can a person be saved?
- Not by human effort- that would be impossible. Only God can save a person and He is looking for qualities that little children have: trust, love, humility, wanting to please, dependence on God
- A rich person often lacks these qualities and depends on their wealth for meaning and hope in life.
- Confession of sin, repentance, turning from sin is an utter essential in salvation.
- Loving God more than anything else in the world - being 100% committed to Jesus.
23. Read Matthew 19:27-30. What was Peter's question to Jesus?
- "We've given up everything to follow you. What will we get out of it?" Sounds like Peter - upfront, impulsive, asking what would appear to be a natural but wrong kind of question. It almost sounds like a pity party - poor me.
- But do I ever think that or maybe even say something very similar.
24. What answer did Jesus give Peter?
- Jesus didn't really scold or rebuke Peter but let him know that:
- All who follow Jesus and share in His mission will share in His triumph. If we bear Christ's cross we will wear the crown. Sitting on 12 thrones and judging the 12 tribes should have sounded like quite a promotion for Jesus' disciples.
- All who give up things for Christ's sake will be richly rewarded. We will receive far more than we've ever had to give up. If you lose your family because you have become a Christian, you will receive a larger family - the family of God.
- You will inherit eternal life - we can be separated from many things but we will never be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)
- Don't look at how great or small a person is here on earth. We will be in for many surprises and those we thought would be first will really be last and visa versa. The way things are here on earth, may not be the way it will be in heaven. (eg. Rich man and Lazarus) God who knows our hearts and attitudes is the perfect judge and will make all things right & just.
25. Do you sometimes struggle with the way things are going here on earth? Do you ever feel that you are giving up so much and God is not coming through to reward you for your sacrifice and human efforts?