2 Chronicles 4-6
John 10:24-42

“Some Pharisees came to Him to test Him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’” Matthew 19:3

The Pharisees set out to test Jesus by asking Him whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason, and Jesus pointed the Pharisees back to God’s intention for marriage from the beginning. God’s creation of marriage was for a husband and wife to be joined together for life with Him in the centre of the marriage. Yet, divorce is a reality, so the Pharisees responded to Jesus with another question: “Why then did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Matthew 19:7).

If marriage was to be a lifelong commitment, why did Moses command this? Jesus answered, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matthew 19:8). Notice the difference in language between the Pharisees and Jesus: the Pharisees said, “...Moses command…” and Jesus said, “Moses permitted.…” Jesus acknowledged the permission written into God’s law; while at the same time, He spoke to why divorce was so prevalent amongst the people. The permissiveness in the law was due to the hardness of their hearts to God’s activity in their lives, which led them to become callous towards listening, learning, repenting, forgiving and leaning into Jesus. Through marriages of people I know that resulted in divorce or a breakdown in marriage, all parties involved would acknowledge the truth of that reality—patterns that became behaviours that became deep ruts that affected the relationship. There was an unwillingness to listen, to learn, to repent, to forgive or to lean in to Jesus.

Even if one party was willing, both parties needed to work together. The third party—God—in the marriage could not force both parties to work towards reconciliation. He does not intend for divorce to happen, but there does come a moment where He concedes to it. God’s original intent for marriage was lifelong commitment, but He permitted divorce because His people were resisting His activity in their life. It is sobering to realize that we can set our hearts on a path that not only takes us away from God, but also adversely affects our other relationships. When we are not willing to listen, learn, repent, forgive and lean in to Jesus, our hearts become hardened towards God trying to call us back. To the Pharisees, Jesus’s answer exposed the underlying conditions that resulted in the law.

For us today, whether we are single, married, divorced or widowed, our relationship with God affects all of our relationships. Are we willing to listen, to learn, to repent, to forgive and to lean in to Jesus?

Lord Jesus, thank You for always calling me back to You. Help me to be willing to listen, to learn, to repent, to forgive and to lean on You.

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