God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 31 - Matthew 19; Mark 10: Jesus on Divorce and Riches

Today’s Reading: Matthew 19; Mark 10

The Message

English Standard Version

Congratulations! You've made it 10 months! Only 2 more to go! Keep going! We also have 15 more days in the life of Jesus.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God was once willing to make concessions in return for obedience. No longer.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus continued healing.
Jesus spoke on divorce: "Don't break what unifies the sexes. Divorce isn't God's Plan. Unless divorced for adultery, remarriage means adultery."
The Disciples objected. Jesus responded, "My Teachings aren't for everyone."
Jesus taught that children made up God's Kingdom.
Jesus told a rich man, "Sell everything you have, give it away, and follow Me to have eternal life." The man left. "Eternal Life only comes with God's helps."
Jesus told James and John He had no control over who sat next to Him in His Glory. He added, "Rule through service."
A blind beggar's faith healed him.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God made marriage to bond two very different people—males and females.

Jesus' interaction with the Pharisees on divorce and adultery gives yet another example of the Pharisees being technically correct but missing the point. God allowed divorce, not because marriages should end but because He knew Israel would not go for it otherwise. God wants to prevent divorces from happening not regulate each and every circumstance to give an up-or-down signal for each situation. God wants couples to be unified in marriage. This is the goal and we should challenge couples struggling with infidelity, abuse, and neglect to be more unified, not separate.

Not everyone can accept Jesus' Teachings.

I almost always like the new ways The Message rewords verses I have read over and over again. Unfortunately, in this case I do not like how He worded Matthew 19:12, "But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it." I realize that He wants to keep the marriage topic throughout; however, I think Jesus is giving a larger-picture saying here. He is telling His Disciples that those who can accept His Teachings should live by them. God's Chosen People live at a higher moral standard than the world. The world may allow divorce for any and every reason. God's Chosen People, on the other hand, do not divorce because its purpose was to bind the two sexes together not provide a social contract.
What does this mean for today? God's Chosen People should not divorce. I have several opinions on why couples break up and what a church should do to help couples before they struggle which I will not go into here; however, with that said, there are many couples who do not stick it out because they are unwilling to make God their Lord. They want to be equal to God—similar to Adam and Eve.
Also, we should not force this upon people who do not want to be God's Chosen People. We should tell them the purpose of marriage and encourage them to put their lives under the auspices of God but until a person wants to set things right with God these laws make no sense. To teach them would be counterproductive to setting things right. I believe that is what Jesus is getting at here, as brought out in the God's Word paraphrase, "If anyone can do what you’ve suggested, then he should do it."

Riches are at war with submission to God.

The rich man who balked at following Jesus did so because he loved his possessions more than he wanted to follow Jesus. It so shook the Disciples that they wondered who could be saved at all! Jesus' answer isn't to deny that any rich person could set things right, but that no one can set things right without God's Help. Riches are not antithetical to obeying God, but they encourage a person to trust themselves instead of God. When a person has little money they must rely on God to provide.

Rulers do not use might to set things right.

I find this story humorous. James and John want to be on Jesus' right and left. The other Apostles are greatly annoyed that they would suggest such a thing (all the while secretly wishing they had the courage to request such a thing, I believe). Jesus plays peacemaker by showing them it wasn't John and James' fault that they wanted this power. Humans love power because it means we can get our way. Jesus wanted His Apostles to know in the Kingdom of God, leadership is not about power over others. Leadership in God's Kingdom is about service to others. Jesus told the Pharisees that the greatest are servants. Leaders do not rule. Leaders serve.

Do you use leadership to rule or serve?

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