The pharisees still had not given up and came to test Jesus again. This time they came with a question on divorce. Jesus simply answered these seemingly learned men saying,
… ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”Matthew 19:5-6
The pharisees would have understood by Jesus’s statement that divorce was not what God had intended when He created mankind but they anyway asked Him that why Moses had permitted divorce. Jesus did not hesitate and boldly told them that Moses had allowed it only because their hearts were hardened and went on to say that apart from sexual immorality, divorce was not permitted by God.
Jesus’s statement makes it quite clear that husband and wife are meant to be one body as God had planned right from the start. Adam was given Eve, and both as one body were to praise God and enjoy His creations. Even today, man and woman should unite as one to grow together in God and support each other in their journey to commune with God.
The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.Matthew 19:10-11
Jesus further says that “the one who can accept this should accept it”. Paul in the letter to the Corinthians tells them about how he wished that everyone would be as him (unmarried) as that would help them focus more on the Lord’s affair rather than the worldly affairs (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).
The Little Children and Jesus
The people there brought little children to Jesus for Him to pray for them but the disciples rebuked them. Why did the disciples do so? Were they trying to keep Jesus to themselves? They were probably just trying to give Jesus some rest from the out pour of people or maybe because children were not considered important, they might have thought why waste Jesus’s time with the little ones.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”Matthew 19:14
Nevertheless, Jesus did not think that way and told the disciples that they shouldn’t be hindered from coming to God. Children are innocent, honest and dependant on their parents and Jesus expects us to have the same characteristics of a child towards our heavenly Father. Even a believer who is new in Christ, is dependant on Him for everything. We should never forget Him and always depend on Him rather than anyone or anything.
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
A rich man came to Jesus and asked “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?” Jesus tells the man to keep the commandments to which he promptly replies saying that he has been doing that for a long time and asks Jesus what he still lacked.
This man, though he was wealthy and kept the commandments also, felt that he was still lacking something. There was a void in his life which he understood as the missing piece to attain eternal life. This man did not seem to be someone who was testing Jesus but rather, genuinely tried to find out what was missing.
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”Matthew 19:21
Disappointed on hearing Jesus asking him to sell all that he had, the man went away from Jesus’s presence. Often we are like this man, who on finding out that our dearest thing is the barrier to our relationship with God, just walk away from Him instead of letting go of our priced possessions. For this man it was his wealth, for us it could be the same or something else. The more the wealth, the more our dependence on it rather than on God and the more time we spend on safeguarding it by reducing the time we gave to God.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”Matthew 19:23-24
When the disciples heard it, they felt it was an impossible task but Jesus told them that it is possible for anyone if they depend on God for everything. We often feel that giving up our priced possession (or anything that takes us away from God knowingly or unknowingly) is impossible, but it is for us that Jesus specifically says that it is possible when we let God help us with it. We think that we will come to Jesus after we become perfect but God calls us to depend on Him and come to Him as we are and He will take care of the rest.
Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”Matthew 19:27
Peter tries to remind Jesus or perhaps wanted Jesus to acknowledge that he and the other disciples left everything and followed Him and wanted to know their reward for it. We can absolutely relate to Peter as we often think that what we are doing for Christ is entitled to a reward. We forget that it is God who has given this opportunity and we should be thankful for His grace on us, instead we expect recognition with God, much like we expect with our fellow beings on this earth.
Jesus responded by just telling them that they will have a part with Him in His kingdom and will inherit eternal life. This was something that the rich man wanted to know and once he knew, he was not ready to take the path to attain it. We are similar to this man, we have an end goal in mind but the path that God shows us seems difficult to follow because we miss including God to help us follow that path.
Let us live a life, humbling ourselves like little children and commune with God through His guidance and help.