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What God Has Joined Together

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Coffee in Italy

We live in a disposable culture...
We don’t repair things, we throw them away and buy new ones
With such abundance, it is so easy for us to move on to something newer and fresher
People do it with jobs, with churches…and sadly even marriages.
*Trigger warning disclaimer
Background
Jesus has left Galilee…he’s come down the Jordan river and is now in the regions of Judea and Perea…in the Jordan River valley just north of the Dead Sea.
The crowds had followed.
He’s much closer to Jerusalem at this point…certainly closer than when in Galilee…yet some significant mountains and desert terrain separated him from the city. Nevertheless, the Pharisees sent representatives out to test him…to antagonize him…to try to trap him.
So, they decide to ask him about divorce.
Why this topic? Of all the cultural and theological topics the Pharisees could have chosen, why divorce?
We’ll never know for sure…but we can make some good educated guesses.
Think about where he is…along the Jordan in the desert…north of the Dead Sea, north of Qumron. Who else ministered there? And what happened to him? And what did John say and do that led to that fate?
This is in the region…Perea anyway on the eastern side of the Jordan…where Herod Antipas was still reigning. There were probably political motivatations for trapping Jesus in this way.
There were also theological reasons…we see this in their answer to his question about Moses...

An Appeal to Moses

The Phar. answer Jesus’ question v. 4
They are referring to ...
Some background here...
Cultural context of
The law forbids the first husband taking back the wife he found no favor in after she is later divorced again or widowed. By charging the wife with indecency, he aquired her dowry when he divorced her. Remarrying, she was given a second dowry. The implication here is when the woman’s second marriage ended…she was able then to keep her dowry. This law then protects the woman from being exploited by her first husband…and him essentially getting a double-dowry from her.
Hardness of heart. The purpose of this law then…is not to promote divorce among Israel, but rather to protect the woman from exploitation...
Two schools of thought in Judaism...
Two schools of thought in Judaism...
Shammai (conservative) - indecency= adultery
Hillel (liberal) - indecency= anything the husband doesn’t like
An exception does not become the new rule

An Appeal to Creation

So, how does Jesus respond?
The Phar. were drawing their conclusions from Torah, which is right and proper…yet as we’ve seen before they are misusing Torah selfishly to feed their evil hearts.
So Jesus, as it were, peels back the layers behind the Torah to reveal a more fundamental authority on the matter…creation. Jesus makes an appeal to creation.
Jesus, with divine authority, quotes back to them the very Word of God from Scripture…not simply deducing a conclusion from Scriputre but delcaring it to be the Word of God.
There are a few things here Jesus says about marriage:
First, it is a God-ordained union of one man and one woman. “Maleness and femaleness are rooted in the creative will of God”
Second, the leave and cleave command. Man is to no longer be under the authority of his father and mother, but to create a new family of his own…united to his wife. This does not dissolve his relationship with his parents but creates a new one that supercedes that. For a married person, their spouce is second only to God in their allegiance.
Third, the union involves covenant language. The two become one. This is not only physical but also carries a covenant idea...
Proverbs 2:17 ESV
who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God;
Covenant relationship that we later learn mirrors the covenant between Jesus and the Church.
Malachi 2:14 ESV
But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
Ephesians 5:25–32 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Fourth, this union and covenant is under God’s authority, sovereignty, and providence. Therefore, human beings should not separate what God has joined. To do so would be out of step with his will.

Principle Over Exception

After Jesus says this, we see them entering a house again. Now, we know in Mark the house setting is where Jesus typically gives more in depth teaching to his disciples. Here is no different. They have genuine questions concerning what he has just said to the phar.
He responds in ver. 11-12...
To divorce and remarry is to committ adultery, why? B/c the covenant bond still remains. They covenant has not been broken by the divorce…so to marry another is to commit adultery.
Now, at this point many will throw a flag on the play and say…what about adultery being a biblical grounds for divorce? Turn to …porneia
So we can say divorce is always wrong except in the case when one spouce is unfaithful...
But, what about you may say…turn to verse
Here, in what we call the Pauline exception, Paul also permits divorce in the case of a believer being abandoned by their unbelieving spouce...
Interestingly, the Pauline exception is on the docket for this year’s BFC conference...
So, with two biblical exceptions to the rule…why does Mark, and Luke also…not mention either?
Some say the adultery exception is implied in . That Jesus, the Phar., the disciples, the crowds all would have agreed on the adultery exception therefore it is really there behind the text.
That could be, but I’m not so sure thats Jesus’ point. Jesus’ teaching here is emphasizing the principle over the exception.
One commentator said: “you don’t learn how to fly a plane by only reading a manual on crash landing.” In other words, you don’t focus on the exceptions, you focus on the rule....and the rule is…what God has joined together, let not man separate.
The Phar. want to focus on what is permissible…Jesus wants his disciples to focus on what is commanded.
And don’t take that statement flippently. Don’t hear being being uncompassionate…I understand we’re dealing with feelings and emotions…but the Word of God is the Word OF GOD…he hates divorce and we are commanded to stay in the covenant relationship. Is divorce a biblical answer to marriage problems? Short answer: No…long answer: sometimes in extreme cirucmstances.
This is waayyyy different than today’s culture. This is oppressive language…this is anachronistic…puritanical… Call it what you want, the Bible stands on its own…it doesn’t cave to culture and it doesn’t cave to the way we feel about it.
I listened to a “preacher” this week doing some research on his unorthodox teaching and his response to Jesus’ commands in this passage were appalling. Look, I get it…I understand the complexity of the issue…I understand the emotional component…I understand it involves pain and trouble…but don’t expect me to stand up here and say something contrary to what the scriptures say…
Some say speaking like this makes me unloving. I’m sorry…but the most unloving thing a minister of the Word can do is lie to you about what God has said in his word. It is unloving to gather followers by twisting the scriptures to suit the tastes of this age.
I realize this week and last i’ve had to say hard things…i realize these aren’t the feel-good messages maybe you want…but you know what…we do expository preaching here because the Word directs what we talk about, not me. And I’m grateful to God that he has chosen to give his people a steady diet of truth…and I pray that truth will come to mind when the noisy gongs and clanging symbols of the wolves in sheeps clothing come in and attack the sheep on youtube.
So, say the message is unloving if you must but realize this...
…the most loving thing I can do for you this morning is to tell you the truth then point you to the Lord Jesus Christ who by his death for you on the cross makes sense of all this mess and can put your life back together.
Jesus died to bring real hope to the hurting…Jesus died to give you peace…Jesus died so that everything that happens to you is ultimately for your good.
But, I’m miserable one might say…I’m not happy… Russ Moore said it well:
Does God want you to be miserable? Long-term, no. And that’s why God has designed marriage as a life-long covenant signaling the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the long-term, God wants you to be deliriously happy. But by long-term, I mean the next trillion years, and beyond. In the short-term, one often must bear difficulty and, yes, even misery. Remaining faithful to a wife you wish you hadn’t married might seem miserable to you, but taking up a cross and following Jesus is “miserable,” in the short-run. That’s why the Book of Hebrews presents the life of faith in terms of not receiving what was promised (), but seeing it and embracing it from afar.
I can’t stand up here today and with a straight face promise you a life of endless happiness in your marriage. Two sinners becoming one is going to cause problems…no marriage is free from trouble. For some of you, the troubles are greater…and you truly are suffering…but Paul says,
[18] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
[26] ...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (ESV)
There is real gospel hope for you.

Gospel Hope for Hurting Marriages

Gospel Hope for Hurting Marriages

Maybe you’re here this morning enduring a difficult marriage. You are both believers in Christ and you’ve been trying to make it work, but some days…you just think it would be easier to walk away.
Its impossible to council you from the pulpit on every marriage issue…so in some sense I realize i’m painting with a broad brush…you need to understand that too.
The reality is, staying faithful and staying married are not optional conditions for you…they are commandments. You’ve made a covenant with someone and you must keep that covenant.
But with that law comes grace…the grace of Jesus to sustain you and give you the strength to persevere and mend what is broken.
Jesus gives us the grace to obey what he has commanded. He does not demand something then leave us to fend for ourselves…he supplies what we need.
We said earlier how marriage is a beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Jesus is the example…but more than that he is the source of the grace you need. Jesus keeps perfect covenant with us, even when that marriage is strained…even when we are not keeping up our end of the bargain. In fact…you and I are unfaithful to Jesus all the time.
Yet our disobedience is met with more love…more grace…and again we are captivated by this overwhelming peace of acceptance and forgiveness. Even on our worst of days God is there pursuing us with open arms because of who we are in union with Jesus Christ…and he will not stop in sanctifying us and making us more and more holy thorugh the trials, tribulations, and struggles we endure.
Brothers and sisters if your marriage is hurting…your God is there to meet that hurt with grace to sanctify you through it. This time of trial and struggle is not a waste…God is using it to make you more like his Son. And he has given you resources to help.
The truth is, you cannot and should not fight for your marriage alone. You need the church, that is one of the reasons God gave us each other. Seek out council…seek out help.
“What about my cicumstance…?”
“How do I know I’m married to the right person?” John Piper: “The short answer is: look at the name on the marriage certificate” I realize the long answer is much more complex and will need a lot of godly council.

Gospel Hope for Unequal Marriages

Maybe you’re here this morning and you are a faithful follower of Jesus but your spouce is not. Whether you came to faith rescently or have for years been living like this…there is also gospel hope for you.
You are called, brother or sister, to remain in that marriage and be a sanctifying presence in your home. You are called to love honor and cherish your spouce just like anyone else.
Like those in hurting marriages, God will supply for you the grace you need to endure if you are willing to obey and love your spouce as you are called…and obedience is remaining married as long as they are and remaining faithful.
Jesus calls us into all sorts of cicumstances, and like my encouragement to christian married couples going through struggles…my encouragement is the same to you…look to Jesus.
I realize some of you may have great relationships…yet inwardly you struggle knowing you cant come together on something so fundamental as your faith. There is grace in the midst of that reality…Jesus is there with you…interceding for you…you are not alone.
He has promised to use you to be a sanctifying presense in your home. Does that guarantee your spouce will come to faith? No, but know this…God has a purpose in what he is doing through you…and that purpose is always right, always good.
Likewise, don’t struggle alone. Seek our your elders, seek our brothers and sisters in Christ you can encourage you regularly, pray for you regularly.
“How do I know I’m married to the right person?” John Piper: “The short answer is: look at the name on the marriage certificate” I realize the long answer is much more complex and will need a lot of godly council.

Gospel Hope for Failed Marriages

Though God hates divorce, Divorce is not the unforgiveable sin…Jesus will forgive, heal, restore those who trust in him alone.
God may be calling you to reconcile
At the heart of the gospel is the restoration and reconciliation of a broken relationship between man and God. If God can reconcile will sinful humans by the blood of Jesus…he can reconcile two sinners.
Reconciliation requires repentance and forgiveness
Not always possible…but when it is it should be pursued…especially when the divorice was biblically illegitimate.
God may be calling you to live as you are
Maybe reconciliation is not possible…
In many cicumstances, obedience for you mean remaining single. This is perhaps one of the most difficult things to say to someone as an elder. Cultural norms and our sense of what is right come screaming against the Word of God here often. For many who were divorced by means not allowed in the Scriptures…obedience for them means remaining single. Now, before you get upset with me…understand that these things must be worked through and you should be willing to be honest and transparent with the Elders
God may be calling you to someone else
To those who have been divorced legitimately, the gospel hope for you is that you may find someone else to share your life with.
In both circumstances…adultery and abandonment by an unbelieving spouce the scriptures teach that the marriage bond is broken and the person is no longer in bondage to the marriage. They are free from their obligation and able to remarry.
There is gospel hope for you brother or sister dealing with a difficult marriage or a divorce. God is faithful to his promises.
If you’re here this morning and you do not know Jesus…and you happen to be married…I’m sure you know and understand marriage is full of difficulties. The same hope I’ve spoken about this morning is available to you as well…but that hope only comes through Jesus Christ.
In marriage difficulties it is so easy to blame the other person…to see their faults magnified…to play the victim. But each of us is guilty. We’re all sinners and we all need the same grace. So whether you know Jesus or not, the answer to your problems is Jesus himself. God sent him to this earth to die because of his love for us, because he desires to be reconciled with us…because he wants to be with us.
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