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.
- Matthew 5:31-32 - “"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
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
- Matthew 19:1–12 - “1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" 4 He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." 7 They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?" 8 He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." 10 The disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." 11 But he said to them, "Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it."
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.
- Matthew 19:4-6 - “He answered, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."
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.
- Matthew 19:5-6 – “'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate."
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.
- Matthew 19:8 – “He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. “
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.
- Ephesians 5:28-33 – “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
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:
- John 3:29 – “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. “
- Mark 2:19 – “And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.”
- Matthew 22:1-2-“And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son”
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.
- Revelation 19:6-9 – “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"--for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
- Matthew 22:29-30 – “But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
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.
- Colossians 1:16 – “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.“
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.
- John 6:37 – “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. “
- John 10:28 – “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. “
- Matthew 28:20 – “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
- Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.“
- Romans 8:35 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
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!