More About the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 19:1–15 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 10:1–16; Luke 18:15–17)

19:1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.

Jesus’ powerful ministry continued, with signs and wonders. His fame spread so that large crowds followed Him everywhere.

3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”

The Pharisees approached Jesus with a question, hoping to trip Him up on some aspect of the Law. They asked if a man could divorce his wife for just any reason. In this male-dominated society, men held all the power, and the law seemed to allow a man to divorce his wife at his own discretion. Jesus then quotes the book of Genesis about the sanctity of the marital bond, but they pushed Him further, citing the practice of Moses, allowing divorce. Jesus attributed this allowance to the hardening of their hearts, putting the onus of responsibility back on the people for the casual attitude exhibited toward divorce. He then outrightly prohibits divorce except in the case of adultery. The Pharisees respond strongly with a pronouncement that this prohibition makes it better not to even marry! Jesus then responds that if one is able to remain a eunuch and serve God fully, then they should, but that not everyone can.

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

As soon as the discourse about divorce was over, Jesus went back to blessing the people, specifically the children. He said that there should always be room made for the children, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. So, to summarize, in the kingdom of heaven, people are healed, relationships and commitments are sacred, and everyone is welcome. Sounds like a great place to be!

Artwork from http://mjdasma.blogspot.com/2018/08/reflection-for-saturday-august-18.html

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