Devotional Reading from Matthew 19:1-13
1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. 3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, -- Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. 13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
There are some very important things to notice in today’s reading. Marriage was God’s idea and is very important to him. When asked about divorce Jesus went back to the beginning of the institution to show that God’s original intention was for a marriage to be between a male and a female (vs.5) and for them to remain together (vs.6). The unfortunate truth is that humanity has not sought and followed the plan of God. For that reason when asked about the Old Testament provisions for divorce Jesus said, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered (allowed)” it. Throughout the Bible we find that mankind’s failures are met with God’s forgiveness and provision. It is always best to follow God’s perfect plan but forgiveness is there where we have failed. There is a portion of this passage that is rarely discussed, the calling of singleness. In vs. 11-13 Jesus teaches that while marriage is good and was God’s plan it is also good and God’s plan for some to remain single. The Apostle Paul taught that remaining single can even be better (1 Cor. 7:26). Paul even taught that there were ways in which an unmarried Christian can focus on the Lord without the obligations of marriage (1 Cor. 7:32). Some honor God through marriage but some honor God through singleness. The essential thing is that we must honor God. The person that feels the pull of inner desires to be in relationships that Scriptures teach do not honor God should submit to God. We are all called to let our Lord have the keys to our life, every key to every room. Jesus has called us all to some form of self denial. Our crosses are different but we are nevertheless called to take them up and follow Christ. We learn from this passage that while marriage is good, it is sometimes difficult to keep going. Singleness could be lonely but can also be rewarding. Neither marriage nor Christ honoring singleness are totally fulfilling in this life and that was never God’s intention. Everything in this life, even the best of things and relationships here leave us hungry for something more, something better. There is a hole in our hearts that is there for only Christ to fill.