7 October 2018

7 October 2018

Categories:

What would Jesus Do? What Would Jesus Say?

Does anyone remember the WWJD wristbands that were really popular in the early 2000s… You know, back in the olden days before social media… Maybe they are still popular and I just don’t notice…

The thing is, the “What would Jesus do” or “What would Jesus say about” question is something that I was asked a few times when the federal government did the marriage law survey last year… It’s a good question and everyone is always keen to say that Jesus in on their side…

The thing is that I think this passage reminds us that what Jesus said was often really difficult to hear… Both for those who first heard it and for us as we hear it today… But at that doesn’t mean we can just skip the bits we don’t like either…

I have to be honest, when I was looking at the passages for this week I was tempted to do exactly that and just talk about Jesus welcoming kids… But hey, lets talk about marriage instead…

Marriage in Jesus’ Day…

Before we go anywhere with this, we should probably have a quick look at marriage in Jesus day and step through the passage a bit…

So the passage today opens with a question put to Jesus…

Mark 10:2–3 GNB

2 Some Pharisees came to him and tried to trap him. “Tell us,” they asked, “does our Law allow a man to divorce his wife?”

3 Jesus answered with a question, “What law did Moses give you?”

So some religious leaders are trying to get Jesus to say something that would get him in trouble…

The thing is, that for a Jewish teacher, this question is easy and the answer would obviously be yes…

If we just have a quick look at Deuteronomy we can see…

Deuteronomy 24:1 GNB

1 “Suppose a man marries a woman and later decides that he doesn’t want her, because he finds something about her that he doesn’t like. So he writes out divorce papers, gives them to her, and sends her away from his home.

So in short, it sucks  to be a woman in Jesus day… Firstly, this is all about what a man has the right to do… Secondly, the question in Jewish thinking was more about what would be reasonable reasons for a man to do this, as opposed to whether it can happen…

There is a lot at stake here, particularly for women and children in a family, as this was all in a time long before Centrelink, long before women could support themselves… Marriage wasn’t just about love and companionship a means by which women and children were supported within this society… Throught the husband and his family. So a husband divorcing their wife was a big deal, but they could technically do it as far as Jewish law was concerned…

So it isn’t surprising that they respond with…

Mark 10:4 GNB

4 Their answer was, “Moses gave permission for a man to write a divorce notice and send his wife away.”

But this is also where things take a turn for the unexpected…

Mark 10:5–9 GNB

5 Jesus said to them, “Moses wrote this law for you because you are so hard to teach.

6 But in the beginning, at the time of creation, ‘God made them male and female,’ as the scripture says.

7 ‘And for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife,

8 and the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one.

9 No human being then must separate what God has joined together.”

Here we see Jesus doing what Jesus does… He isn’t satisfied with simply answering their question in an abstract legal sense, but drawing attention back to God’s purpose for this kind of human relationship…

It goes on…

Mark 10:10–12 GNB

10 When they went back into the house, the disciples asked Jesus about this matter.

11 He said to them, “A man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against his wife.

12 In the same way, a woman who divorces her husband and marries another man commits adultery.”

Jesus certainly confused his disciples even more by raising the bar even higher than what we saw in Deuteronomy… Even a husband doing what a legal right do within their religious law, is actually going against what God really wants…

In all of this, Jesus is reminding his hearers that their debates and questions around divorce have caused them to loose sight of God’s original purpose for marriage…

What this isn’t

  • This isn’t a passage used to guilt or shame someone into staying with an abusive partner… Abusive relationships are distort the union and wholeness we see when we look at God’s purposes for marriage in creation…
  • This isn’t a passage to shame or judge those whose marriage didn’t work out as they first hoped… The way that Jesus talks about marriage here, as two people becoming one, reminds us that a marriage breaking down isn’t just a minor social arrangement changing, but a breaking something apart which will leave brokenness, pain and hurt that may last a lifetime… Our only appropriate response to this is to grieve alongside, to offer love, acceptance and care… Living in a broken world means that sometimes this is the least bad option, but it still hurts and we can only respond with mercy and grace.

What this is…

  • This passage is a reminder that in marriage, couples share in a union that uniquely reflects something of God’s purposes in creation.
  • This passage is a reminds us that Marriage is important, something that we should seek to encourage and support, whether through seeking to support those looking to get married or seeking to grow and navigate the challenges of life together…
  • This passage reminds us that we live in a broken world, that there is a large gap between how things are and how God would have them. But God knows this and seeks to offer grace to his people so that we may find life in the midst of brokenness. The passage in Deuteronomy that gave guidelines for divorce wasn’t intended to divert attention away from what marriage is meant to be about, but was a concession to try to limit the effects of our brokenness.
  • Most importantly, this passage reminds us that we don’t find our place in God’s family by following the letter of the law, but through the grace of Jesus. Throughout the New Testament Jesus shocked his hearers by setting the bar for how we should live higher than was in the Jewish law. The key thing here is to see how Jesus responded to brokenness and sinfulness when he encountered it, with mercy and grace, not condemnation and rejection.

Luke 5:30–32 GNB

30 Some Pharisees and some teachers of the Law who belonged to their group complained to Jesus’ disciples. “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and other outcasts?” they asked.

31 Jesus answered them, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick.

32 I have not come to call respectable people to repent, but outcasts.”

As those people who are seeking to be more like Jesus, we need to remember that seeking to show mercy, grace and forgiveness to one another doesn’t need to detract from our ability to strive to live in ways that reflect God’s purposes for humanity in creation.

Jesus demonstrated what it was not to compromise when asked about what God desired for us in a way that made his Jewish hearers uncomfortable… At the same time he was constantly extending love and grace to those he met in ways that made Jewish onlookers uncomfortable…

As we read the words of Jesus, look at the example he set in his life, we are reminded that none of earn our way into God’s presence. That all of us fall short and share in the brokenness of our world. But that through Jesus, we are forgiven, restored and invited into God’s family.

Speaker: Rev. Stephen Rothery

I am married to Shannan and we love life in the Redlands.

 

I love tinkering with technology, have spent waaaay too much time in on-line gaming and am an early adopter of virtual reality. (Currently rocking a HTC Vive at home and GearVR for mobile) Before coming into ministry my background was in Electrical Engineering/IT which meant I spent a lot of time working with information systems and automation in factories and industry around Queensland. All of this means that I am basically a huge nerd 🙂

 

In terms of faith, I am passionate about journeying with people as they seek to follow Jesus and understand what this looks like in their family/work/community. None of us are perfect, but through God\’s grace we can make a difference as together we seek to bring hope in places of despair, love to those who feel lost or ashamed and comfort to those who are hurting.