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166 - Papering Over Hardness (30 Sept 2023)

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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September 30, 2023 1:00 pm

166 - Papering Over Hardness (30 Sept 2023)

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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September 30, 2023 1:00 pm

Episode 166 - Papering Over Hardness (30 Sept 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. As we come back to Matthew's Gospel today, it's very late in Jesus' ministry, and boy, has he made enemies of the Pharisees. They just hate him, and they're always asking him trick questions to try and trip him up over technicalities of law.

Yeah, to see if he can slip up. So today, the trick question is all about? Divorce. Divorce.

All about technicalities. Let's see more today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning. We're glad you're with us. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy. And this is More Than Ink.

In fact, you know, you can take a microscope and you can dial in on the page of paper in front of you with the ink on it, and all you'll see is little dots of ink, but there's more than ink on the page. I wondered where you're going with that. So what we're going to do here this morning is continue our look at Matthew, and in metaphor ically speaking, take the microscopes of our slowed-down attention and just look carefully at this passage and see what's here, and God always surprises us as we come back and read passages that we have read before, right, and yet new insight.

So we're starting this chapter 19. Where did we come from last time? I'm trying to remember. I think it was, oh, it was forgiveness. It was forgiveness, you know, how many times do I let someone, how many times do I forgive them, and the forgiveness of the large sum of money from that one servant, all that kind of stuff. Well today we're leaving that behind, but we're continuing on in some interesting teaching about divorce, which is really kind of a fascinating thing. So historically in the narrative here, Jesus has pretty much wrapped up his entire Galilee ministry way up in the north and is turning and is coming down into Judea.

He will leave Galilee behind for the last time because he's right on the edge of coming into Jerusalem for the Passion Week, and at the end of it, he'll be crucified. So in fact, that's how we start the passage this morning. That's right.

That's what it says. Oh, well, let's change scenes. Why don't you read it for us? So chapter 19, verse 1. Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, that is his teaching about forgiveness and working out your difficulties.

The difficulties, right, right. When Jesus had finished these things, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan, and large crowds followed him and he healed them there. Okay, so now since he's come south and he's within a stone's throw of Jerusalem. Within a day's journey. Yeah, a day's journey.

It's about 20 miles. But now he's around where the Pharisees are, and this brings him back on the radar with the Pharisees. So again, here we go again. Now that he's in range to be accosted by the Pharisees, he indeed is, and that's what they come to him for. They come to him not to learn something, but to try and trip him.

No, they come to test him to see if they can catch him up in a misinterpretation of the law. Right. So verse three, and the Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause? Okay, so before we go on here, we need to probably say that at this point it was very, very common to have this debate. It was a big debate. A big debate among rabbinic authorities, and there were several schools of thought about reasons why a man could divorce his wife or put her away. Maybe even for something as trivial as if she burned his dinner.

Yeah, that's the... Or she wasn't pretty enough and he found somebody prettier. Yeah, those are the classic things, because those are actually written down. Those are actually written down.

Yeah, those are written down. It's astonishing. Yeah, it was two camps, two different rabbis, one who was very conservative, one who was pretty liberal, and basically that was the debate going on. So what they want Jesus to do right here, this is the test, they want him to pick sides on this debate. So what is Jesus supposed to do? Is he supposed to say, well, if she cooks a bad breakfast, you can divorce her?

Or I mean, how do you do this? So as is typical in Jesus' response to these kind of testing questions, he does not engage in the minutia, he goes for the heart. So look at his answer.

It's great. Let's go back to the Word. He answered them, have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh, what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. Okay, let's stop there.

Yeah, we need to pause there for a minute. It is a brilliant response. He doesn't take sides. What he does is he says, let's go back and see what the Word says. Well, and let's go back to the initial design of marriage.

The very beginning. Because God did not put marriage in place saying, well, you know, if things go bad with Eve, you can bail and I'll make you another wife, right? No, in fact, he goes back to the creation account and he goes back and he talks about the intentions that God had in creating men and women differently and for relationship and for marriage. And so that's when he goes back.

Let's go back to the basics. Well, and Adam and Eve, of course, had no parents, but everybody since then did. And so, you know, that's where he says a man shall leave his father and his mother and that's what Genesis says. And hold fast to his wife. Right.

Hold fast to his wife or what in old versions are called cleaving, which kind of confused a lot of people because a cleaver cuts things, right? Yeah. So if you want to look that up, that's in Genesis 2.

And in the creation account, there's the quick version of the creation account. And then he goes back and goes back a little bit and goes back in chapter 2 and then focuses on the creation of man and woman and that's where he talks about that. And just zeroes in on the relationship.

Really zeroes in on that, yeah. And also the fact that man and woman were made for each other. It's not good that man should be alone, you know. But what's fascinating, what he's really talking about here, it comes at the end of Genesis 2.24. They shall become one flesh. So if God makes them one flesh, then what are you doing taking them apart? What God has joined together, let not man separate.

So that's his answer and he didn't take sides, but so is divorce in or out, you know? Well it's interesting that this one flesh relationship involves much more than simply a sexual union. Yes, exactly.

That's the easy target. Exactly. Right? But this is a lifelong oneness that really transcends the sexual relationship and they are creating a whole new family unit.

Right, right. Yeah, and we always have to emphasize this isn't just sexual. That's part of it. But there is so much of a, almost a soul-ish level connection between the two. They are partners in life.

I like to always, when I'm doing premarital counseling, congratulate the couple because I say I'm glad you guys have chosen to build a new life together. So in a sense. A one life. Yeah, you're not just adding her to my life or him to my life.

What you do is you're making a new thing with both of you together. So there is a one thing that's being built, not two things being merged. And it's God who's building it, right? That's what Jesus says, what God has joined together. Yeah.

Right? So I think sometimes we kind of back that out of the equation, but it's God who creates this oneness as a picture of the oneness that he himself has. Yeah, and we could go on and talk a lot about this, but the marriage relationship, my pet theory, the marriage relationship was created by God in order for us to understand what our relationship with God is supposed to be all about. Well, that Paul unpacks that a little bit in Ephesians 5. Because you know, at the creation story, God could have made us like amoeba. There are no males and females, they just kind of split and stuff like that. But God says, no, no, I'm going to make you deliberately two halves and into one.

I want you to see, I want you to have a living, breathing example of what it's like to live in intimate relationship with another person, because that's my desire with me. Who is like you, but is not you. Bingo. Bingo.

And we could go on a lot with that too, because Eve was made out of Adam so that she is enough like him that they can relate, but she's enough unlike him that it solves the problem of loneliness. So anyway. Okay.

It's a great picture. We need to press on because Jesus is not done answering the question. But he says this is the design, by design, this is how God has made us. So God has put us together.

Okay. God's put you together. And so then they come back with another question in verse seven. So they said to him, well, why did Moses then command to give a certificate of divorce to send her away? Well, yeah, that's a good answer, a good question.

That's a logical question to ask, but they speak of it like Moses commanded for that to happen. Yeah. Right. And divorce isn't something that's commanded. It's permitted. It's permitted.

But not required. That's an important distinction here. Okay. But still the question is honest because Jesus is saying don't separate what God is trying to get them. They're saying, well, Moses says we can. Right. Right. Moses says we can.

So what's the big deal? So Jesus' answer again goes straight for the heart. Verse eight. 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. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality and marries another, commits adultery.

Whoa. Okay. Because it's not really a divorce. You're still married.

Well, so because of your hardness of heart, divorce was regulated and allowed by means of this written certificate. Yes. Yes.

So let's talk about that hardness of heart for a minute because in the scriptures most often hardness of heart refers toward God, that we have this hard heart towards God and a rebellion against him. That's what causes us to damage relationships. Yeah. Right.

That when our hearts are soft towards God, we are soft towards those with whom we are in relationship. Yeah. Yeah. So he's not necessarily talking about being bettered against your wife.

He's talking about your hardness of heart toward God and toward an understanding of this best relationship that God has designed. Yeah. Yeah.

And again, when you start to tie in the fact that this is a living metaphor of our relationship with God, then the hardness of heart issues is central to it. Right. So really even in the difficulties in marriage, and there are difficulties in marriage, I mean it's a challenge.

Indeed. Marriage is a challenge. But in the doing so there's great blessing out of that. But if your heart is hard toward the other person or even hard towards God, it's going to make the entire process of marriage be really unworkable.

It's really tough. So he says, this is the ideal. This is the ideal. This is the way it's supposed to be.

I made men and women differently so that they will be one flesh and I joined them together, but the hearts are hard and so we're going to allow a separation. That's what he's getting at. Well and the certificate of divorce was protective for the woman. Oh yeah, totally. Because it forced that husband to make a legal acknowledgement, a document that said why he is sending her away.

Rather than just waving his hand saying get out, we're divorced. And we're not talking about sexual immorality in view particularly here because the penalty for that was stoning. Right, right.

Right, so we're talking about some other offense. And I would encourage you listeners to go back to Deuteronomy 24 and read those first few verses where Moses gives this instruction because it's very instructive because it's talking about what happens to this woman and she has now a valid legal reason why her husband has sent her away and she is now free to marry another. Yes, and that certificate is what allows her to do that.

So this is protective for the woman. And I'll just read a sneak preview in Deuteronomy 24 because this is what they're talking about. Deuteronomy 24 one, when a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her.

And he writes a certificate of divorce and then it goes on. So the question, I mean the raging debate that they wanted Jesus to weigh in on is yeah, what is the indecency, what amounts to an indecency? But when you look at that word in the Hebrew scriptures, it talks about the nakedness of things. So when the ESV, we read right here, says indecency, we would only use the word indecent when we talk about kind of sexually connected things or being naked or being indecent.

Well, naked and exposed. Yeah. Yeah.

So it really is very serious. It's not really a burn to breakfast. Well no, but it opens the discussion of in her exposure to him, right, that comes about in the marital relationship, you know, when you get married, you find out a lot of things about the person you married that you didn't expect or didn't know beforehand. So that kind of opens the door to wow, she's not who I thought she was because she's a breakfast burner. Or she's a bad housekeeper. Well they also emphasized the first part of the sentence in Deuteronomy 24, they said if she finds no favor in his eyes, they could say well I find no favor in her, she's not favored.

But then it gives that nice because of this thing. So it's got to be a serious offense, it can't just be whatever. And you know, at the time, and this exists to this very day, many times men will see another woman walk by and say I think I want her instead, and then just wave their hands and just divorce the other one. And they're saying this is not how this goes. That's interesting because back in the beginning of Matthew in chapter five when Jesus was talking about adultery and divorce and the Sermon on the Mount, it immediately follows his discussion of if you look on another woman with lust, you've already committed adultery with her in her heart.

So that connects here. And you know that is such a trivial reason to divorce someone in the light of the fact that what Jesus is saying, according to the creation story, you have become one flesh. I mean, this is when you talk about divorce, it's like tantamount to cutting off a leg or an arm.

Oh, cutting off your arm. We're talking about dismemberment here. I mean, we're talking about one flesh.

So this is a really big deal. And Jesus says this is a very big deal. But hardness of heart, we allow the separation. So before we leave this and press on to the rest of the passage, I just want to thinking about hardness of heart, it occurred to me freshly today, that Joseph, the betrothed husband of Mary, Mary and Joseph was not a man with a heart hard toward God. He was a very soft hearted man toward God. And if you look at Matthew 119, where Joseph is described after Mary had had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, it says in verse 19, and Joseph, her husband, even though they were just just betrothed, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her desire to put her away secretly. So that his heart was very soft towards God, he wanted to do the right thing by Mary as a righteous man, and he was not required to divorce her, but was kind of considering how to go about it when the angel intercepts him, right, then he, he keeps her a virgin until the baby is born, even though he marries her. So you know, I just find that lovely that Matthew is the only gospel that includes that account. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, hardness of heart versus Joseph, who is soft of heart. Was a righteous man, which means a man after God's own heart.

Yeah, yeah. Well, we're not done talking about divorce, because, let me pick it up in verse 10, because the disciples are still scratching their heads a little bit about this. So the disciples said to him, well, if such is the case of a man with his wife, it's better not to marry.

Better not to be stuck for your whole life with a woman who doesn't make you perfectly happy. Maybe we shouldn't get involved with this. A little bit of an overreaction, you think?

Yeah, over the top, too much guys, too much. So verse 11, so he said to them, Jesus said to them, well, not everyone can receive this saying, you know, better not to marry, but only those to whom it's given, for there are eunuchs who have been sown 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, and let the one who is able to receive this receive it. So interestingly enough, although we say that was an over the top proposal on their part, Jesus is saying, well, you know, maybe not, but it's not for everyone. Well, in the culture we live in, there is a requirement to marry, a religious requirement to marry. Whereas this just says, no, there is no religious requirement to marry, and there are a variety of reasons why a man would not marry. But this statement, this saying that not everyone can receive is this idea that maybe it's better not to marry, because most people are inclined to marry.

Yeah, if it's going to have these problems, maybe we should just avoid it. However, you go back to the Genesis account and God says it's not good for the man to be alone. But Jesus does say here that there are some people who have chosen not to marry, and good for them. That's why he says at the end of that section in verse 12, let the one who is able to receive this receive it.

Well, you know, it's not for everyone, but some have. It comes to mind, people like the Apostle Paul. Right. So, and he in fact, in 1 Corinthians 7, that's right, he actually talks about, he expands this idea a little bit more. And his bottom line in all that section in chapter 7, at the end of it, as I recall it correctly, is he says, look, however you are now, when you come to believe in Jesus, just kind of stay that way. So if you're married, stay that way. If you're not married, you know, if you can, stay that way, but if you can't handle that, then get married. But it's basically, the question had come up, it looks like, in 1 Corinthians 7 was, you know, what if I become a believer in Jesus and my spouse is not? Should we get divorced?

Should we separate? And Paul says, nah. So he really, he talks about that at length.

It's really worth reading. He does. So I would just encourage you all to go to 1 Corinthians 7 and read. Begin reading at the beginning of the chapter and go down through about verse 17, 18, where Paul talks about all of these things, but he says in verse 7, I wish all men were even as I myself am. However, each one has his own gift from God, one in one manner and one in another. So that implies, well it doesn't imply, it says outright that marriage is a gift from God and singleness is its own kind of gift from God. Yes. Yes. And it does make a slight case for the fact that you're a little bit freer for ministry if you're not married.

But you know, Peter was married and he was very effective in ministry. So you know. Well, yeah.

You, the listeners, go read the chapter and see if that doesn't give you some insight here. Yeah. It really, he teases this apart really nicely.

Really, really nicely. Well, shall we move on? We just got a few minutes left, you know. Change of topic a little bit. Well, and you can think this is probably something that they all went away talking about. Yeah. Yeah. But in verse 13.

13. There, then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. Okay, so before we go on, it's interesting that we've been talking about marriage and the natural result of a healthy marriage is there is an expectation of children. Ah, so there's a connection here. So it seems to me that this is connected. Yeah. Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.

For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven and he laid his hands on them and sent them away. Yeah. Great scene. Great scene. So we only read about this a chapter ago. Yeah, that's right. That's right. When he deliberately brought a child into their midst and said, unless you turn and become like a child, you're not getting into the kingdom, humble yourself and receive them.

Yeah, yeah. I chuckle every time I see the disciples rebuking the people, like, okay, move along, there's nothing to see here, Jesus is here, but come on, this is too important to waste the time on the kids. And Jesus so upturns that, it's just wonderful, because he's saying, no, if you want to talk about the kingdom, you got to talk about childlikeness in everyone's heart. And he does it repeatedly. He does.

This is not the only time. And he healed children. Yeah.

Yeah. So Jesus valued the ones that society did not value. Yeah, because children were just unvalued. I also point out when I hit these children passages that when we think of our own identity with Christ, you know, since we have a father that makes us children, and you know, John mentions that many times we can become his children, it says in John one, and then in his letters, he says, it's an amazing thing, we're called the children of God, and we are.

Well, you know, if that's the case, then that actually is your best and first identity. You're a child. So when you see children, it's a great opportunity for you to take notes and say, you know, I need to be more like them. But how is it that I've lost that since I'm an adult now?

How is it I'm not quite like a child anymore? And there's a lot of issues of humility and apparent neediness. Well and independence. Because that's gonna actually come up in the next next week, when we talk about the second part of Matthew 19, right, right, independence and self reliance and all the things that you grow into as an adult, that children don't have any independence, right? They do. Yeah. But they can't feed themselves, clothe themselves and make their way in the world.

Yeah. So this is another example of a relationship I talked about before that husbands and wives, the marriage relationship tells us a lot about our relationship with God. Here's another one, children and a father. And so our first and best identity has always been as a child of God. And here you have it again, there's a lot to learn, not only from marriage, but a relationship with God, but children in terms of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. And so these relationships are all made to help us understand in a tangible way, what is right now, untangible, it's spiritual, it's hard to figure out. And children's another one and Jesus is saying, you need to look at kids, you need to look at kids, you need to understand that that primarily is who you are and the way they carry themselves in life.

You gotta be like that when we're talking about the kingdom, you have to be more like children or you'll never see the kingdom of God, he said another place. Well and a common factor in all of these instances that we've just looked at is this idea of hardness of heart, right? Hardness of heart toward God will play out in the way you conduct your relationships. It will play out in your marriage. It will play out in whether you marry or not.

It will play out in your attitude towards children and here the 12, the disciples are manifesting still this hardness of heart towards the tender little ones by rebuking the parents and sending the children away, Jesus says, you still don't get it, let them come and don't stop them. That's interesting because he says that two ways. And in another passage, very tenderly, he kind of takes them and embraces them and prays for them.

Right. Well he does that here, lays his hands on them. He lays his hands on them, yeah.

So it's just a great thing. Which is a visible indication of blessing. That's an Old Testament idea, lay your hand on someone's head and speak a blessing over them. Yeah, yeah, it's just a great thing that he might lay his hands on them and pray and that's exactly what he does. So if you're listening and you're actually pretty young, you're closer to remembering what it's like to be a child because in the end that is our identity for all of us.

We have a heavenly Father and we are all utterly needy, utterly dependent on God for everything and we look to him for love. We should be like children. Well next time, we're going to come back, we're going to continue in chapter 19. But Jesus is going to bring up camels. He only talks about camels twice, in fact it's the only places in the entire New Testament camels come up and you probably know what he's talking about when we talk about camels and how it figures in some really super important lessons about the Kingdom of God. So I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. And we're glad that you're with us. You can read ahead if you'd like, start at verse 16 of chapter 19 and that's where we're going next time.

Not only as we talk about the Kingdom of God, but we talk about camels for the first time in the Gospels. So we hope you come back with us and we delight in doing this with you. So join us next time on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, And while you are there, take a moment to drop us a note.

Remember the Bible is God's love letter to you. Pick it up and read it for yourself and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Oh, we were really cruising. I thought I turned it off and I guess I didn't. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Rhythm City.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-30 14:15:35 / 2023-09-30 14:27:31 / 12

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