23 January 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 5:31-32 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
31 “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ 32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31–32 NLT)
In first century Palestine, a man could marry as many women as he could support. A decade ago, in my culture a marriage was between a man and a woman. In western culture within the next few years, marriage is likely to be widely defined as between two people. In African countries Jean and I have served, a Christian man may have more than one wife. In Jesus’ culture, only a man had the right to initiate divorce.
The Jewish law had evolved (or devolved) to the point that a man could divorce his wife for any reason—anything he found displeasing about her. He could write a her letter of divorce and put her on the street, homeless and penniless. It was solely the man’s decision whether she could take her children with her. The reality is that the only recourse a divorced woman had was to try and marry again or return to her father’s home in disgrace. Jesus states plainly that in this unjust situation the man who divorces his wife has not only sinned against her but is guilty of causing her to sin by pursuing the only reasonable course available to her, remarriage!
Jesus is talking about Covenant here. Divorce is the breaking of a Covenant between a man, a woman, and God. Can the breaking of a Covenant be forgiven? Absolutely! Read the Old Covenant book of Hosea. Will there be consequences to the divorce and subsequent remarriage? Absolutely! Ask anyone who has been divorced and remarried!
Marriage is a Covenant. Breaking Covenant is sin. We must understand that there is one God-initiated plan for dealing with sin, this sin, other kinds of sin, any kind of sin. God forgives sin! Sin is forgiven by God’s mercy, and redemption from sin is purchased by the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Forgiveness and cleansing is received by acknowledging the sin and receiving God’s no-strings, freely given grace.
Father, We need a deeper understanding of how important Covenant is to you and how important Covenant must become to us. Thank you for grace and mercy. Please help us to better represent your love of Covenant to our desperate world! In Jesus’ Name!