Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Matthew 19:1-22

(My BSF Notes)

Matthew 19:1-12 - Divorce or Not to Divorce

Again the Pharisees came to Jesus to test Him on the controversial subject of divorce.  They ask, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" - Matt. 19:3.  Jesus answered, "What God has joined together, let not man separate." - Matt. 19:6.  He said from the beginning, God created man and woman in His own image (Gen. 1:17-28; 2:23-25).  Jesus always turned to the Scriptures.  Then they asked, "Why did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" - Matt. 19:7.  Jesus answered, "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 marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." -Matt. 19:8-9.  Notice He said Moses permitted it, not commanded it.  Actually it was God who permitted it, but Moses wrote down what he received from God.  In Moses' time women were considered property and when a man was tired of his wife or she became old and not as attractive, he would put her out and she had no way to support herself.  God mercifully protected women by permitting divorce.   Then she would not be discarded without provision.

God defined marriage as a holy joining of one man and one woman.  This was to be an eternal commitment, but God knew we humans would be human and He provided a way out for people who are stuck in an unhealthy marriage. (Deu. 24:1-4).  Jesus said divorce was only permitted for adultery.  Today our laws allow divorce for any reason.  People think they know better than God and even play God thinking His laws are outdated in today's society.  God is very clear about this issue of marriage and divorce.  God said,  "I hate divorce." - Mal. 2:16.

What has caused your heart to be hard?
What is your response to divorce?

Today Christians are pressured to drift away from the biblical view of marriage.  There is divorce everywhere, in every family, and for every reason.  There is sex outside marriage, unmarried couples living together, and gay marriage.  It is viewed as the norm.  Society is influenced by seeing this in practically all movies and TV shows.  We are told to be tolerant and non-judgmental and that times have changed.  What do you think God would say about that?  I guess we will find out when He returns.  If it was wrong hundreds of years ago, it's wrong now.

We can strengthen ourselves and influence others by knowing what the Scriptures say on these matters.  Jesus always turned to the Scriptures.  Biblical knowledge is power.  It's a weapon against Satan and his evil.  The more you know the stronger you are.  "For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." - Heb.  4:12.

Are you considering divorce?
Will you take this to God in prayer?

Then the disciples asked if it were better to not marry.  Jesus replied that marriage is not for everyone.  "For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and other have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven." - Matt. 19:12.   (Eunuchs were usually castrated males or those with reproductive birth defects.  It was also common practice for rulers to castrate their servants for those who tended to the royal harem.)  He said marriage may not be for those who wish to devote themselves totally to God for marriage may be a distraction.  However, if they cannot control their lust, then it is best to marry and remain with that person.  This is also taught by Paul in 1 Cor. 7.  The Bible does not teach that it is best to marry.  There are those who are called to devote themselves to God's work.  Paul is a great example.  Whether you are married or not, the only life that brings joy, fulfillment and purpose if one that does the will of God.

Eph. 5:21-33 tell us to be loving and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Husbands and wives are meant to be one flesh and work in unity.  Paul compared marriage for a man and woman as that of Christ and the church.  We are to love our spouse as Christ loved the church.  He loved it enough to die for it.

If you have been divorced outside of God's loop hole of adultery and have remarried, stay in the marriage or you will commit another sin if you leave.  Because of Jesus if you repent, you are forgiven and cleansed.  Do not dwell on it.  It's in the past and we all have past sins.  Just live your life knowing God still loves you and that you are forgiven. Then prayerfully commit to make God the center of your married life.

Do you live with the guilt of divorce?
Will you repent and ask God for forgiveness? 
Will you then live a life of forgiveness without quilt?

God hates divorce.
God meant for marriage to be permanent.

Matthew 19:13-15 - Little Children and Jesus

Then parents brought their little children to Jesus for Him to touch them, bless them, and to pray over them.  The disciples rebuked this.  They disapproved probably thinking children were not important and Jesus was busy and had more important business to attend to.  They didn't want Jesus' work interrupted.  Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." - Matt. 19:14.  Children are very open and honest.  They have a simple humble faith.  This is how we should approach Jesus - completely honest, open, and with a humble faith like a little child.  This story of Jesus welcoming little children is reassuring for both parents and children - that children are important to God!

Christians today fail to bring children to Jesus.  We think children are too young to understand about Jesus.  We ignore them thinking they are not worthy of attention.  We forget that they have feelings, too and that they are important.  Parents leave the teaching of Jesus to the Sunday School teacher.  We can bring them to Jesus by setting a good example, blessing our meals, treating them with respect, reading stories of Jesus, praying for them and with them, giving God the glory openly in front of them, and talking about God and Jesus often.

What can you do to help bring children to Jesus?
How can you be a good example for children?
How do you communicate to your child Jesus' great love?

Principle:  Jesus welcomes little children.

Matthew 19:16-22 - The Rich Young Ruler

A rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked what good thing must he do to have eternal life.  He didn't recognize Jesus as Lord or the Son of God.  He called Him teacher.  Jesus answered, "Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is only One who is good.  If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." - Matt. 19:17.  The ruler was young, wealthy, powerful, religious, and a good moral man.   When he asked his question, he was putting himself in God's position and using his own values to make judgments.  He was also focusing on his works and what he could do instead of having the heart of God.  Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor, which he was unwilling to do.  The man left and was sorrowful, but not sorrowful enough to repent and trust Jesus.  He lost the joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit and having purpose for his life.

To have eternal life is not about what you can do.  Jesus exposed his sin showing him that his heart was prideful and that he loved money more than God.  Money and possessions were his idols.  This doesn't mean you have to give everything up to follow Jesus to have eternal life.  It does mean you must give up your idols.  An idol is anything that you put before God.  It's where you spend most of your energy, time, and money.  Your idol can be your children, spouse, love of your talents, social position, career, or anything you love more than Jesus Christ.

There are people like the rich young ruler in our churches today.  They obey all God's laws, come to church each week, and probably even serve as an elder or Sunday school teacher - but they put their love of their idols before their love of God.  Salvation is through faith in Christ alone, but there are certain things like money that can keep us from putting our faith in Him.  Jesus wanted the man to give up his possession because it was keeping him from exercising his faith in Christ.

How are you like the rich young ruler?
What is the hardest thing for you to give up?
What thing to you love more than God?
What steps will you take to change?
Do you have the assurance of eternal life?

To have eternal life you must be willing to give up everything.
Jesus called His followers to live for Him fully.

More great lessons from Matthew.  Next week we will finish Matthew 19 and do part of Matthew 20 and 21.  See you then.

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