January 29

Matthew 19


In verses 3-9, Jesus teaches on marriage and divorce. For more notes on this topic, see January 5 commentary. The Pharisees are testing again, this time on a law about marriage, a topic that was controversial at the time. To respond to their question, Jesus goes back before the Mosaic Law, to the beginning, in Genesis. He states the plan of God for one man to be married to one woman. The Pharisees continue to debate, asking about Moses giving a certificate for divorce. Jesus answered, “Because of the hardness of your hearts, BUT FROM THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT SO.” Again, Jesus refers to God’s original plan. A hard heart is a heart that has been closed up, maybe because of hearts or maybe because of pride/desire for a different life. Typically, no one enters into a marriage with the idea of leaving it. The two thinks that would break a marriage covenant would be death or infidelity. Under the law, once married, always married. In Bible times, Jesus often addressed men in these conversations. Here, He tells the men that marrying a woman who is divorced is committing adultery because she will always belong to her first husband by covenant, which is unbreakable. The disciples, realizing the commitment and knowing their society, answer, “it is better off not to marry.” Jesus then acknowledges some do stay single, known as eunuchs. 


Then He blesses children, children who are the result of covenant marriage, creating a covenant family. Jesus was not against marriage. 


The rest of the chapter deals with the rich, young, ruler and the reward for following Christ. The rich, young ruler was a man who lived in self-sufficiency. He was rich and had no need for anything. He was young and strong. He was a ruler with influence and power. To follow Christ, this man would be shifting from his self-sufficient mentality to a faith mentality, where he would rely on God. He couldn’t do it. If he had, God would have taken care of his needs, but there would be sacrifice. Even though this man was moved by Jesus’ ministry, he wanted to care for himself instead of rely on God. I wonder how many people since then have appreciated the miracles and the ministries of the kingdom, but struggled with the surrender and sacrifice of a calling? 


Peter says, “We’ve left everything for You. What will we have? Jesus tells the disciples they would sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. I love how Jesus includes people on His team. He’s faithful to them. He honors them. 


Then Jesus says of everyone who gives up a life in this world with homes, families, and lands, would receive a hundred-fold and eternal life. 


He says those who are last, serving everyone else, is the one who will be honored most. The ones who are being served and living life only for themselves will be honored least. I believe this is true for this life (in the eyes of God) and in the one to come. 


Exodus 21-22


In chapters 21 and 22, Moses is sharing laws in addition to the ten. These laws include care for servants, violence, animal control, property, and moral and ceremonial principles. 


With these laws, God is doing a couple of things. One, He is teaching what is right and wrong, according to His holiness. Two, He is using the Law to show them their need for a Savior. 


In verses 21-17, God specifically mentions showing kindness to the stranger or foreigner, the widow, the fatherless child, and the poor. He says, “If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry” and God will retaliate. In verse 27, God says, “It will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.” 


As Christ is the One who makes way for our salvation, being the firstfruits from the dead, God asks us to bring Him the firstfruits of our labor – the first and the best of the harvest, the firstborn animal, and the firstborn male. When we tithe that first ten percent to our local church, we are honoring Christ and His sacrifice for our salvation. If we know about the tithe, and refuse to give it, we are despising Christ and His sacrifice for our salvation. When we tithe, let’s thank God for our redemption through Jesus Christ! It has so much meaning!


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