Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 6, 2014
Today we continue our walk through the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount. The sermon was of course preached by none other than Jesus himself, and it is jam packed with no-nonsense truth. To use a phrase from John MacArthur, the Sermon on the Mount presents a picture of Jesus that you cannot ignore.
Today we are going to talk about divorce. Before we get started I want to say that I am completely aware that this sermon may make some of you uncomfortable, and I want you to know that my intention is not to make people feel awkward. My intention is to teach the Bible. My prayer this week and today is that I speak with gentleness and grace, but that I do not strip God's Word of its truth. Lastly, as I stated last week while teaching on adultery, we must start with the understanding that we are all sinners; you, me, and everyone that walks through this door. There is no place for self-righteousness here. So as we unpack this text and discuss the topic of divorce no one should feel that I, or anyone else, have a moral high ground over you or anyone else. We are all wretched and desperately need the Grace of God found in Jesus Christ.
Today, like always, we have a lot to cover, so lets get to work. Turn with me to Matthew 5:31-32. Let us read it, pray for God's Grace, and soak in God's Word.
You can easily get a sense of this pervasive tension when you look at our text today. 2000 years ago Jesus was addressing the institution of marriage. Why was He addressing it? Because the Scribes and the Pharisees had mad a mess of marriage. Just like we saw over the last two Sundays when looking at murder and adultery, Jesus as setting things straight.
In order for us to understand our text, we need to first understand marriage. In order to do that, we need to look at a couple other passages. First turn with me to Matthew 19:1-12
First, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that marriage is created by God himself. It is not something that humanity, or culture, or the government invented. It is a relationship intentionally designed, created and implemented by God.
The second thing we see it that this union of marriage is significantly strong. In fact, there is no other relationship on the planet between two humans that is stronger than the husband and wife. Not even the bond between parent and child is as strong as husband and wife. For a child leaves his parents and is unified with his or her spouse.
With these two points in front of us, the question is now, why did God design a relationship between a male and female that is so prevalent in the world and so strong between the couple? What is the primary purpose of God in marriage?
This question is rarely asked and rarely answered, and because it is not asked many Christians are succumbing to divorce. I think the reason this question is rarely asked is because we are too busy asking the wrong question. We are asking the sames questions that the Pharisees were asking, when can I get a divorce? We are wanting to know what box can we check on the certificate of divorce application form. The reason we do this, is because our hearts are hard, just like the Pharisees. We make marriage all about our pleasure, and not about God's glory. This is the central issue that Jesus was addressing in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19.
Our hearts are too much like the Pharisees and not enough like Jesus’. Instead of showering my wife with self-sacrificing love, and grace and forgiveness, I rain down on her self-justifying anger. Every fight that I find myself in with my wife is about my pride. It is about my agenda. It is about my pleasures. It is about me. My sin is the problem, but this is not what God had originally designed. Before the fall, divorce was not a word in Adam and Eve’s vocabulary. What God had joined, let no man separate.
So the question is still before us? What is God’s purpose in designing, creating, and implementing marriage? Turn with me to Ephesians 5:28. There is no one in the Bible that talks about marriage more than Paul, who by the way was not married. Interestingly enough, just like Jesus. So for all you single people, marriage is important to understand, and it is important because of what it displays.
Marriage is not a societal thing. It is not a cultural thing. It is a gospel thing. This is what marriage symbolizes, and this is why Satan hates it. This is why marriage is always under attack. A husband and a wife joined together forever, bound by God Himself is to be an image of Jesus’ unending love of his people, and this image of redemption is to cover the Earth. And Ephesians 5 is not the only place that points to this reality.
John the Baptist who was to set the stage for Jesus refers to Jesus as the bridegroom:
Listen to what takes place in Heaven after all the elect have been saved. This is the party we all long to be a part of.
I think God is making it abundantly clear what he is doing. He is telling us expressly and implicitly that marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we should not be surprised that God has designed it this way.
For when God created he had a purpose in His mind. His purpose was not to create a random world with little to no meaning, but instead he created a world that pointed to the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Let us know talk about this union. The union between Jesus and his people is unbreakable. It is eternal. It never fails. It never gives up. It endures. God himself has joined the bridegroom with his bride. Salvation by Grace through faith is a union sealed by God. Listen to these verses.
And this brings us full circle. This is why God hates divorce; because it blows up the picture of the Gospel. Every marriage that ends in divorce displays the opposite message that God intended. Divorce does not display that grace of God, it displays the sinfulness of man. This is why Satan is always attempting to destroy it.
Matthew 5 is not about adultery. It is not about the line in the sand, or the check box on the certificate of divorce. It is about your heart. Do you want to display the Gospel? Or do you want to display your sinful pleasures? Let us not repeat their mistake. Let us live the Gospel so that Glory of God shines forth in this lost and broken world!