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These are the words spoken by Jesus about marriage. Please read Mark 10: 1-12. Last week’s message was from “Have salt among yourselves,” but here Jesus added that we should live in harmony with each other. The emphasis was on keeping a balance between having salt and living in harmony. That also applies to marriage that we need the same balance within the married couple.
First, let’s look at the context of this verse. In verse two, “Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”Mark 10:2
There seemed to be two ways of understandings on divorce that the Pharisees had at the time. The first group claimed that they were unable to divorce but only exception was when wife’s unfaithfulness (adultery) was discovered. The second group claimed that husband could divorce his wife anytime she made some little mistakes (such as a cooking failure). The Pharisee who asked Jesus the question this time belonged to the second one. Unlike today, Israel 2000 years ago, unfortunately, seems to have been a male-centered society. We can see from Matthew 19:10 that the disciples of Jesus believed in that too at this point. Jesus’ answer was very clear. His perspective was based on how the Bible and God sees marriage, and not based on what people think or believe.
First, Jesus asks from the Bible, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
In fact, Moses allows close-minded husband to write a divorce letter and separate his wife in order to protect his wife’s future. Women who receive a divorce certificate will be given the possibility of remarriage. However, I don’t think Moses would ever recommend divorce for any small reason.
Then what about the perspective of God? Jesus continues. “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 flesh. (Verse 6-8) Let’s stop here and ponder on these words again. God made them men and women. In Genesis 2, God created a woman as a suitable helper, and Adam, who met this woman, said joyfully, “This is now bone of my bones, the flesh of my flesh.” This Adam’s word means intimacy closer than a family, that is like a second self. In Hebrew, Adam means “human” and “earth,” and his wife, Eve, means “living person,” or “life.” Having met this woman, Adam experiences another encounter with himself. The phrase Jesus said, “and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. “ comes from this story of God’s creation. Jesus continues, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Verse 9).
Marriage is joined together by God. What does it mean that God has joined together? If you are married, I want you to look back on your marriage. Perhaps you have been through together starting from meeting each other, growing in love, a desire for marriage was given, and being led to marriage overcoming various difficulties. I hope that you remind yourself that God is the one who has joined you together, and that leads you to have a thanks giving heart. Let us hold on to Jesus’ words that the married couple is no longer two but one flesh.
Speaking of marriage, I sometimes perform a wedding. Sometimes I’m asked to give them a marriage counseling as well. At such times, I talk with young couples focusing on how God has guided them to marriage. I hope that they will find God’s love has been always behind the process they went through. There are times I have several meetings with them and hearing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, future dreams and directions. Marriage is not the goal. It is important to work together to have blessed marriage. You will learn many things practically in your marriage such as forgiving each other, accepting the differences, mutual cooperation and mutual respect. There might be some problems arising in your process of being one, but I believe that God gives you a strength to overcome them.
For those who are singles, I want you to have dream in your marriage. I want to encourage you to pray about what kind of person you want to spend your life with, and how you want to build your family. I believe God prepares the best for your life.
This year, Japan is overwhelmed with the fear of coronavirus infection. In such a time like this, a swallow recently started to build a nest under the roof of my house. The couple of swallows are working really hard carrying mud and trying to build nests. For a while, I will have to work on cleaning the front door. But I want to cheer and support these swallows during this summer. These two swallow reminded me that the joy of nature has been given by God. God’s promise never changes. I want to keep believing that God loves and protects my life, my family, and my church family.
「Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?」
Matthew 6:26 NIV