Today’s readings.. (2 Samuel 2), (Jeremiah 8), (Matthew 19)

Our reading in Matthew 19 begins with the Pharisees asking Jesus a key question, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” [v.3] They thought they could catch Jesus with this question; involve him in a disputed matter, maybe make him unpopular?  For Jesus it was an opportunity to reinforce his teaching to his disciples in the sermon on the mount (ch. 5 v.31,32).
Jesus surprised them by referring back to the foundation of marriage, saying “Because of the hardness of your heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” He also said, “What therefore God has joined together let not man separate.” [v.6] This point is why true marriage vows must begin with reference to the couple being joined together in the sight of God.
His disciples feel uncomfortable with this picture of absolute commitment and suggest, “If such is the case … it is better not to marry.” [v.10]  Jesus responds by talking about “eunuchs’, those who chose to remain unmarried “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” [v.12]: Paul and Barnabas are examples of such commitment Our thoughts then went to the wonderful value of a faithful marriage and the training up of children: it is this that qualifies a man for a role as an elder and overseer among believers.
Paul made this point to Timothy when he asked him to remain at Ephesus (1 Tim.1 v.3) and how he was to make an assessment “if anyone aspires to the office of an overseer” [3 v.1 – see the verses which follow]
Marriage is a lifelong commitment and Malachi’s message includes the reminder, “the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth … she is your companion and wife by covenant.” [2 v.14] “what therefore God has joined together let not man separate.

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