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Family togetherness October 24 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): John 10:1-21; Mark 10:2-12; Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:13-16; Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17

Family Matters—Love, Divorce, Remarriage, and Children

There are many challenges to our families in today’s world. It seems like most American families are fractured by anger, alienation, separation, divorce and abuse. Many have little knowledge of God's Word or moral values, and the result is chaos and confusion. They need good godly guidance. What they (and we) do not need is to be led astray by bad teaching.

In today's Bible reading, the Pharisees (religious teachers) are jealous of Jesus' popularity, so they try to discredit him. They attempt to trip Jesus up by testing him about interpretations of God’s Law. The Pharisees follow their own interpretation of the Law of Moses, which was given by God. By adding to the Law and leading others in their errors, they violate the intention of God's Law and harm families and their nation. They are like hired shepherds, who care only for themselves, and nothing for the flock they lead.

Love

Love is unselfish and is shown by caring. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep. His sheep are those who believe in him, trust him to save and take care of them, and follow him. Unlike the Pharisees and other false religious leaders, Jesus feeds, binds wounds, protects, and goes after lost sheep. He carries the injured ones close to his heart. Are you one of his sheep, or are you like a lost lamb without a shepherd? God will care for you if you are one of his sheep. Why not ask him to be the shepherd of your soul? (more...)

If we love, we do as Jesus did—we feed, bind wounds, protect, go after those who are lost, and carry the injured ones close to our hearts. We are unselfish and caring. If we fail to love, people feel isolated and cold. This often leads to something else Jesus addresses.

Divorce

The Pharisees test Jesus on the interpretation of the Law of Moses regarding divorce. Moses required an Israelite man to give a certificate of divorce to his wife if there was some indecency (a sexual affair is implied; Deuteronomy 24:1).

A strict interpretation of the Law is that only the husband can divorce his wife and only because of a sexual affair. A liberal view, which the Pharisees teach, is that a man can divorce his wife for any and every reason (Matthew 19:3; The Bible Knowledge Commentary of The N.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp. 148-9). Which view will Jesus adopt? Whichever he chooses will divide his followers. Here is Jesus' answer to the Pharisees,

“What did Moses command you?” he replied.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'

'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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.

He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:2-12,NIV).

The last paragraph of Jesus' words is probably included in Mark's gospel because he addresses an audience of Roman nationality. Roman law allows women to divorce their husbands—the Jewish Law does not (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, p.149). Jesus' words about women not divorcing their husbands is not included in Matthew's gospel. Matthew's account includes the exception for immorality that the teachers of the law recognize is from Deuteronomy 24:1. It is not present in Mark's gospel. In both accounts, Jesus says it is because of the hardness of their hearts that Moses allowed divorce. In other words, Moses allowed it, but it was not God's original intent. Divorce is an act of violence against the family (Malachi 2:15-16). Moses was trying to bring some control in a bad situation because the people were obstinate in not following God's plan for marriage.

The situation in Moses' day was not too different than it is today in America. People are getting divorced for any and every reason, and they are willful about it. Many preachers are trying to bring some control over the situation by stressing the clause in Matthew; i.e., no divorce “except for marital unfaithfulness.” Jesus, however, stresses the sacredness and unity of marriage as God's intent. “Therefore [he says] what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:9).

The disciples, hearing of the troubles of marriage and divorce, say that maybe it is best not to get married. Jesus said singleness is a good and acceptable choice for some but not for all.

Remarriage

As we read earlier, Jesus says to remarry is to commit adultery (unless the spouse had died). This is because of the violation of the original covenant with the first spouse. “Till death do us part” is Biblical. The modern vows of “as long as love shall last” are not. What if a couple has an argument right after the wedding and then do not feel in love? Should the marriage end as quick as it began? In American society, divorce can be acquired in a month’s time and can be for any reason. A popular reason given for divorce in today’s culture is “irreconcilable differences.” There is not much marriage security in low commitments.

The marriage covenant is not just a slip of paper. The marriage covenant is not just a hope for happiness, although couples certainly want that. The marriage covenant is a promise, a vow to our mates in the sight of God and many witnesses that we will forsake all others and give ourselves totally to each other “for better or for worse,” and “as long as we both shall live.”

There may be serious problems in marriage relationships, but it will glorify the LORD and work to our benefit if we will seek Biblical counseling to work out our issues. Divorce can cause chaos, division, poverty, and even violence. God wants us to seek paths of peace and restoration, not only for ourselves, but also that we may glorify him and be an example to children and others of godly marriage relationships (Malachi 2:15-16).

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. He is the bridegroom and true believers in Jesus Christ are his bride, which he purchased by giving his life for her on the cross of Calvary (Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33). If husbands love and nourish their wives as Christ does the church, and wives respect and submit to their (non-abusive) husbands, there is love in the home. Both husbands and wives are commanded to submit to each other, live in consideration of each other (1Peter 3:1-7), and watch their attitudes—be sweet, not destructive (Malachi 2:15-16). Focus on the Family is a well-respected Christian organization that has programs to help bring hope and restoration to broken families.

Children

In Jesus’ day, children are brought to him so he might touch and bless them. The disciples try to forbid the children from coming because they do not think he has time or should be bothered by them. Jesus says, however, “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, NIV). Good godly people are like the hands of Jesus—they can touch the lives of children for eternity. If not in the home, caring godly people can be found in local Bible believing churches and organizations.

A current teaching regarding children is that they should be allowed to make religious decisions for themselves, without influence of anyone else. Because of this, many children today are not given any religious instruction, either personally by a parent or through the organism of a church. If children are not exposed to Christ, how can they possibly choose him? We are responsible to teach them about the LORD so they might be saved (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).We are responsible as Christian parents to nurture and encourage them to obey the LORD (Ephesians 6:4). The salvation and discipleship of children will lead to a more moral and just society. More generations of people will come to know the LORD if children are exposed to the Bible and to the Christian message on a regular basis.

Lessons to Live By

  • Ask Jesus to be the shepherd of your soul and follow him, not false teachers and counselors. (more...)
  • Love like Jesus
  • Strive with God’s help to keep your marriage covenant, not just for you but also for your children, your church, and your society. Follow the instructions from God's Word, pray, and seek godly counsel if you need it.
  • If you have been divorced, remarried, or suffer other broken relationships, God is not done with you. Jesus can still be the kind shepherd of your soul and bring you healing and protection.
  • Instruct your children about the LORD and take them to church so they might come to know Jesus as their Savior. Set the example by going to church yourself and living a consistent godly life.

Focus Verse

John 10:11 "I [Jesus] am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (NIV)

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