When Jesus completed his teaching about forgiveness he departed the northern region of Galilee and come into the southern region of Judea. Just like in Galilee, large crowds followed him and he healed them but some Pharisees tested Jesus regarding the legality of divorce because this was a debated topic between rabbinic schools. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 was the debated text:
The school of *Shammai, predominant in Jesus’ day, argued that the passage allowed divorce only if one’s spouse was unfaithful; the school of Hillel, which eventually won out, said that a man could divorce his wife if she burned the toast (a later rabbi of this school added, “Or if you find someone more attractive”!). (IVP BBC NT)
So, they asked Jesus if there was any reason for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus did not use the debated text but went back to Genesis 1:27. The male and female are one flesh in the eyes of God. Therefore, they questioned Jesus directly about Deuteronomy 24:1-4, saying: “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Mt.19:7) The answer that Jesus gave was not what they expected. They didn’t expect that the conversation would put them in the wrong. Jesus said, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.” (Mt.19:9) It is not God’s will for a man to divorce his wife and send her away. It is God’s will for a husband and wife to be one flesh. Jesus did, however, give immorality as the only reason for divorce.
Then the disciples began talking to Jesus about divorce. It is better to never marry than to divorce. However, man was not meant to live alone.
Jesus Blessed the Children
The disciples rebuked the people who brought to Jesus their children because they thought it beneath him. However, Jesus said to not hinder anyone, especially children from coming to him. Therefore, he laid his hands on the children because the kingdom of God belongs to them.
The Way of the Master
This man came to Jesus wanting to know what good thing that he could do to to obtain eternal life. However, Jesus corrected his understanding about good, saying: “Only God is good!” Then Jesus used the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-21) to bring the knowledge of sin, thereby shutting the young man’s mouth from declaring his own goodness. (Rom.3:20) Jesus began with the commandments about our relationship with other men. When the man declared that he had kept these, Jesus went to the higher commandment which the man had not kept. The first Commandment:
I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before Me. (Deut.5:6-7)
The man had put his wealth and comfort before God; therefore, he went away grieving. Now the story ends her, so we do not know if this led to the young man’s repentance or was if it hardened his heart against the kingdom of heaven. There is no way of knowing, but in this text Jesus shows us the way to show a self-righteous person that they need God’s forgiveness.
The Disciples Reward
Earthly riches will not save on the day of judgment. However, to leave everything and follow Jesus Christ, trusting him as Lord and Savior, will mean eternal life in the regeneration. Do not trust in your own goodness or allow the things of this world to hold you back from following Jesus Christ. Whatever is holding you back from following Jesus Christ must be left.