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Jesus on Marriage

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
February 16, 2024 9:00 am

Jesus on Marriage

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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February 16, 2024 9:00 am

Even if you’re not married, how you think about marriage affects the way you view so much more of life, like dating, sex, conflict, and even singleness.


Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Friendship or companionship is the purpose of marriage. It's not the only purpose, but if friendship is the purpose of marriage, that's going to have massive implications for dating. Because if marriage is about friendship, friendship ought to be the basis of dating.

You ought to be looking for someone who is your equal, which is why I say if you're not a Christian, what the Bible says, you should never date or marry somebody who's not a Christian. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and apologist J.D. Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today, Pastor J.D. begins a new teaching series called Forever Family. You know, how you think about marriage affects the way that you view so much more of life, even if you're not married.

Topics like dating, conflict, and even singleness are ultimately shaped by our view of marriage. Today, Pastor J.D. shows us how the gospel shapes the essence and purpose of marriage and teaches us why no matter what you've been called to, whether marriage or singleness, you're going to need God's help to accomplish it. So grab your Bible and a pen and let's join Pastor J.D. now as we've been talking about our forever family. Welcome Summit family and all of our campuses in the Triangle. We are beginning a new series this weekend in which we're going to take several weeks to study what Jesus taught about romance, marriage, sex, singleness, family, kids, and other small trifling topics. Let me just say from the outset that this would be a great series for you to bring your one to because it's just something that I think everybody will find really relevant. There are three things in church that we have found people who don't typically come to church are often open to receiving an invitation for. Christmas services, Christmas Eve services, Easter services would be the second.

The third would be any series on marriage and family or dating. So let me state the obvious, okay? The obvious is that romance and marriage have great potential for good in your life. It really is one of God's greatest gifts to us, but the flip side of that is because it has great potential for good, it also has great potential for harm.

I mean, just think about it. Ask most people, for most of you, if you were to recount your most painful memory, chances are it's going to have something to do with some kind of heartbreak and romance or in family. If you ask somebody to tell you about their greatest mistake that they've made, it's almost always related to something sexual.

When people come into my office and they sit down and they say, pastor, I've never told anybody this, and I've got to tell you this, it almost always, is always, always going to be related to sex. In some ways, I've heard it said you could think of sex and romance, and you could think of it like a gun, like a pistol. When my dad taught me how to use a gun, the first thing he taught me to do was respect it. He said the worst thing is somebody grabbing a pistol and waving it around with no idea of what it could do.

My dad would tell me, he said, never point that at something that you don't intend to shoot. Well, the same thing is true for romance. If you don't respect it, if you don't understand its power, then it could do you and it can do other people great harm. This Bible, this Bible that we open every single weekend, this is the recounting of God's intentions, his design for sexuality, his design for marriage, his design for romance.

It explains what it is, what it's for, and how it's supposed to work. After I got married, Danny Aiken, who is a president over at Southeastern Seminary, a friend and in many ways, a mentor of mine, he told Veronica and I, we were sitting there having dinner with him, and he said, listen, there are two things that you need to understand to have a happy marriage. He said, the first one is that God is the author of all of it, and his word instructs you on the best way that you can set it up. He said, if you want to have a happy marriage, if you want to have a fulfilling romantic life, a happy family, you need to have a happy marriage.

A happy family. You need to follow God's counsel as carefully as you can. He said, the second thing you need to understand is that when it comes to marriage, men are a lot like dogs and women are a lot like cats. Veronica kind of looked at him sort of quizzically and he was like, yeah, men are like dogs. He looked at my wife and he said, how do you make a dog happy?

Three things. So you want to make a dog happy, you feed it, you praise it, and you play with it. He said, if you want to make JD happy, he said, that should be your guide. He said, how are women like cats? He said, well, how do you make a cat happy?

He said, nobody really knows, but whatever you did the first time probably is not going to work the second time. So that's going to be your assignment as you go through this. This series is going to be more about Danny Aiken's first piece of counsel, about what God's word says about marriage and romance and family and less about the second, but it's going to be great, I think. Matthew chapter 19 is where we are going to be.

We're calling this series Forever Family. And the idea comes from an answer that Jesus gave to a controversial question that he was asked there in Matthew 19. And the answer that Jesus gives, he introduces a new outlook on marriage.

At least I would say that it's going to be new for most of us. A new outlook on marriage that will reshape how we think about everything connected to marriage. Connected to divorce is going to be the question that he talks about, singleness, sex, conflict, and many other things. You might be sitting there and you might be saying, well, I'm not married and I don't think I'm going to be married anytime in the near future.

So what's going to, what's this going to have for me? Ironically, this series might be the most helpful for you because you see understanding God's purposes for marriage will help you understand how he fulfills those same purposes in your life in other ways when you're not married. Matthew 19, Jesus is hosting a live version of his own Ask Me Anything podcast. And the Pharisees, verse three, came up to him and they tested him. They said, is it lawful, Jesus, to divorce one's wife for any cause? Jesus answered, he said, have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them both male and female? And he said, now quoting from Genesis 2, the opening chapters of the Bible, he said, for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and come together and cleave to his wife. And the two in that marriage are going to become one flesh.

So they are no longer two, but one flesh, what God has therefore joined together, no man should separate. Now, before we get into Jesus's answer to the divorce question, let's just consider this. What is Jesus teaching us about marriage with this quotation and with his application of it? Because his thoughts about marriage are going to shape his answer to divorce and also going to teach us how to think about a lot of other things that are connected to marriage also.

Here's what he's teaching us. Number one, he's showing us that the essence of marriage is covenant. That word cleave that Jesus cites there in Genesis 2, from Genesis 2 and verse five, that word cleave in Hebrew literally means to make covenant. The essence of a marriage is covenant. Marriage in a technical sense is your public vow of faithfulness. Without that vow, you're not married. Having intensely loving feelings or affections for somebody doesn't make you married.

I mean, for many of you, nobody seems to be more excited about you every day than your dog. When it comes to affection or loving feelings, your dog has those feelings, but that doesn't make you married to the dog. In fact, when you think about it, the marriage ceremony is less about the state of your feelings in the present. And the marriage is more about your promise to love in the future. You are covenanting to be tender, to be faithful, to be kind and compassionate and affectionate and patient. From that point on, when I've done weddings, a lot of times the couple will ask if they can write their own vows.

And that's great. And I always say yes, but I always ask them if I can see their vows before they actually give them in the ceremony. Because a lot of times the vows that they write end up being a lot about how much they love each other now. Oh, you're awesome.

And you just smell like rainbows and sunshine or whatever. But that's not really what a marriage covenant is about. Those things are sweet, yes, but the covenant is not about your feelings in the present. The covenant is about your promise for the future. Marriage is also not just an efficient system that God creates to propagate the human species or to anchor society. Rabbits and rats are great at rapid propagation of their species, but they don't get married. Marriage is a union, Jesus says, in which God fuses two lives into one.

You see verse six, what God has joined together, right? Nobody should separate. In a marriage covenant, your lives are intertwined in such a way that everything about you becomes one. Your future families become one. Your future happiness and successes become one.

Your bank accounts become one. Your emotional lives become one. All that culminates in sex where physically your bodies become one. And see, that's going to have massive implications for how you think about divorce, Jesus says, and we'll get to that in a minute. But it's also got massive implications for how we think about sex, which we're going to get to later in this series. You see, if God designed marriage as a total fusion of souls, then when you separate physical oneness, sex, from oneness in every other area, that's going to tear you apart at a fundamental level. You know, what makes a zombie creepy is that it's a body without a soul.

That and the fact that it wants to eat you, of course. But what makes a zombie a zombie is you've got a working body without a soul in there. Sex apart from marriage separates the body from all the other dimensions of the soul.

And somebody says, but I really, really love this person. Yeah, I get that. But you and I both know that without that covenant, you could walk away from it at any moment. The creator's design for sex from the beginning is that it was to be experienced in a relationship in which that physical oneness is coupled by oneness in every other area. Again, we're going to get more to that later, but let me just say this right now, okay? A lot of people think that Christians are really negative when it comes to sex. Our message is don't do it. Don't talk about it. I'm going to explain this to you later.

It's actually exactly the opposite. It's that we recognize its power and its beauty, its potential for good, its potential for harm, and how it's supposed to be a part of a complete fusion of our lives. That's number one, is that the essence of marriage is covenant. The second thing Jesus teaches us is that the purpose for marriage is friendship.

Now, hear me out here, okay? Because I understand there are a lot of purposes for marriage, but when you look at Genesis 2 that Jesus is quoting here, the immediate cause that he points to is the reason that God created marriage was the need for companionship. You see there verse 5? For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.

What reason is he talking about? Well, you got to read the verse before that. The phrase before that is from the beginning, God made them male and female. God's creation of the female was in response to a problem. And that problem, Genesis 2 18, was that it was not good for man to be alone.

So God says, I'm going to make him a companion. About everything else that God had made, God said, it's good. But for the man in his alone state, that was the one thing in all of creation before the fall that God looked at it and said, not good. God makes this statement before the fall, before Adam sins. That ache of loneliness is the one ache that we have that does not arise from sin.

Adam, I explained to you, had a perfect quiet time with God 24 hours a day. And yet still, even with a perfect quiet time and walking with God 24 hours a day, he still has an ache for human companionship. And that's because God created us in his image and God exists eternally as a Trinity in community with his equals. So God creates for Adam a companion, his equal, just from the opposite gender. The word that God uses to describe the woman that he made, edzer kenegdo, literally means alike but different. Somebody like Adam, somebody his equal, but also different, a different gender. In that way, their marriage would be like the Trinity and the same in the essence, in their essence the same, but in their person and roles different. The woman was created to be his companion, his equal, his friend. In fact, several times in the Old Testament, the marriage partner is called just that in Hebrew, Ahalup, which means a deep friend. By the way, I think I'm giving y'all some great nicknames for your boo, right? My hot haloob, my little edzer kenegdo.

That's better than sugar booger, I think. So if you want to impress her, you just call her your haloob. But all this is why I say that friendship or companionship is the purpose of marriage.

It's not the only purpose, but the immediate cause that Jesus pointed to is the reason that God created it. And you see, if friendship is the purpose of marriage, that's gonna have massive implications for dating. Because if marriage is about friendship, friendship ought to be the basis of dating.

You ought to be looking for someone who is your equal, somebody who can be your friend, somebody with whom you can share your deepest commitments, which is why I say if you're not a Christian, what the Bible says, you should never date or marry somebody who's not a Christian. New featured resource to help you think biblically about all of the relationships God has given you with your spouse, your family, your friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. It's a study called One Day at a Time, a 60-day challenge to see, serve, and celebrate the people around you, written by a good friend of JD Greer Ministries, Pastor Kyle Eidelman. One Day at a Time features 60 daily devotionals to help you love people well, and ultimately to share the love of Jesus with them. Each day comes with a specific challenge as well, so we're making it practical a long way. We'll send you a copy with your gift of $35 or more to this ministry.

To donate, give us a call at 866-335-5220, or visit us online at For now, let's return to our teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. You see, for a marriage really to work, for it to be life-giving and sustaining, you have to open up and share the deepest parts of yourself, if it's going to be fulfilling. If you're committed to Jesus, and that's important to you and your partner is not, then when you open up this part of your life to them, they're not going to understand it, right? And you're going to feel violated because they don't share that thing that is deepest in your heart.

I think of life, I've heard it said, like rowing a boat. If you've got people on opposite sides of the boat that are trying to row in two different directions, that's what it's like to marry somebody who doesn't share your faith in Christ. If it's important to you, they're going to constantly misunderstand you.

You're going to, when it comes to raising kids or when it comes to doing stuff with money in your future, when it comes to priorities in your life, you're going to be pulling in two different directions. Friendship is God's purpose for marriage, and that's going to have massive implications for dating. And it's also going to have implications for singleness, because what Jesus is going to do is he's going to point to a union between members of his body that's stronger even than marriage, a family that is more significant even than our biological families are. So number two, number two, we see that the purpose for friendship is marriage. Number three, Jesus explains that the pattern for marriage is the gospel. The pattern for marriage is the gospel. This might be the biggest idea of them all and something Jesus only alludes to here. In Ephesians five, Paul is going to quote the same passage as Jesus does. And he's going to explain that in that first marriage, God is giving us a picture of his love for his people.

Now, again, Jesus only alludes to it here, but this is a huge idea. God designed marriage, Paul says, and everything that goes with it to give us a taste of his love. Not only is that going to give you a pattern for how you can love your spouse, but ironically, it's going to show you how you can be happy and fulfilled in a season when you're not married, even when you really want to be. How you can be content in a marriage that you're disappointed in. How you can be happy in an unhappy marriage.

C.S. Lewis, and I obviously quote here a lot, he didn't get married till very much later in life. I think it was in his mid fifties. He compared the blessing of marriage to a ray of sunshine. He said, you know, when the sun, when you walk out in the morning and a ray of sunshine hits your face and it warms your face, he says, you look back up along the ray to the sun from which it emanates. He said, the sun is the actual source. The ray is just the manifestation of it. Marriage is like a ray of the sunshine of God's beauty and his love.

And if something in life obscures you from that ray, if a cloud comes between you and that ray, well, you're still in the presence of the sun, even though the rays not shining on your face, the sun from which it emanates is still something that is a part of your life. Right before I got married, the first time that I went out with Veronica, I went into my class the next morning, seminary class, and one of my friends who knew what had gone out with Veronica the night before was like, well, what'd you, you know, what'd you think? And so I whipped out of my notebook, a piece of paper, and I just wrote down every adjective that I could think that described her. It was like 60 some different adjectives. And I put it on his exit.

That's what I think about her. And then just, you know, he was like, I think he looked at it for maybe two seconds and handed it back and meant more to me than to him, obviously. So, but I kept it in my notebook and by the grace of God, you know, kept that notebook a couple of years later when we got engaged, I was like, I wonder if I still have that notebook, went back, found that list, got it framed.

And then on our wedding day, gave that to her. And it had a little statement under it by CS Lewis that basically was you represent something that can never be taken away from me. And what I meant was, yes, there are situations where Veronica could be taken away from me.

Death could come to one of us. And she might not be a part of my life, but she represents something. The beauty that I experienced through her, the love, the tenderness, those are things that emanate from the sunshine of God's love that can never be taken away. And if some dark cloud were to obscure the ray, the sun of God's love remains.

By the way, I hope that you'll start learning to look at all of the blessings of life that way. The attention, the tenderness I felt for my parents, that was a stand in for God's love. And so if your parents disappoint you, well, the ray is gone, but the sun remains. The affirmation sometimes, the community that I feel from friends, those things are all manifestations of the goodness of God and experiencing them.

I'm learning to experience goodness that comes from Him. The sunshine, the sun itself is God's love and His presence. One of the rays, one of the manifestations is marriage.

And it's a great one. But CS Lewis said, and the Bible tells you, don't get fixated on the ray because of the sun is what's important. So those are the three things that Jesus teaches us about marriage. He teaches us just in those few short statements, the essence of marriage is the covenant, the purpose for marriage is friendship, and the pattern for marriage is the gospel. Now let's look at how Jesus uses those concepts to spell out what He's gonna say is an obvious answer to the divorce question. All right, what does Jesus teach in our marriage mean for divorce? Verse six, verse six, therefore, what God has joined together, no man ought to separate.

Notice there, you got there at the end there, nope, just period, no comma, no fine prints, no recommended reading, period, end of sentence. If marriage is a covenant instituted by God to demonstrate His love, if marriage really is a fusion of two souls into one, He's saying divorce should never be an option. Ah, verse seven, they said to Him, whoa, wait a minute, Jesus, why then did Moses who was speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, why did Moses then command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?

At that point, if you're writing the score for this scene, you cue the dramatic music, because that was true. Moses had said in Deuteronomy 24, one, when a man takes a wife and marries her, if he finds any indecency in her, then, well, he could divorce her. And they're like, well, wait a minute, Jesus, you're saying we shouldn't get divorced, but Moses clearly says we could.

In fact, they use the word command. He commands us to, gotcha, Jesus. By the way, for the record, let's go ahead and say it, you should never get in the battle of wits with Jesus, particularly over the Bible. But the Pharisees were not always the spiciest Doritos in the bag, so they did. And Jesus looks back at them very calmly and says, okay, it's because of the hardness of your heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives. He didn't command you.

He allowed it. But from the beginning, according to God's original design, it was not so. Rabbis in Jesus' day taught a distinction, listen to this, between a command in the law and a concession from the law. The command, they said, expressed God's heart. The command reveals God's desires and his plans from the beginning.

A concession was something that God allowed in society because of the fallenness of man, because we're broken people, in order to keep peace in a society that are filled with different ones of us at various levels of spiritual maturity. This allowance for divorce, Jesus said, it was never a command. And you know that, he tells the Pharisees. It was not a command that expressed God's heart.

It was a concession due to our fallen state. And the Pharisees knew that. Many of the rabbis at the time taught the difference in a command and concession of the law that wasn't something new with Jesus, but here was their trap. What did Moses mean by something indecent? In Deuteronomy 24, he said you could get divorced and technically not be in sin if it was because of something indecent. In Hebrew, the phrase for something indecent is erwat dabar.

And it was an ambiguous phrase, even for people who were fluent in Hebrew. So the Pharisees are trying to get Jesus on record saying something about marriage and divorce that would make him really unpopular. So what does Jesus answer?

How does he respond to this? Verse nine, I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality and marries another, commits adultery. Jesus actually comes out stronger than the conservative position. Not only should you not get divorced, he says, if you marry somebody else after leaving your first spouse, you are living in adultery with the second person because in God's eyes that first covenant is still active. Because see, marriage is not a contract where you agree to a set of conditions so long as the other party satisfactorily fulfills theirs. Marriage is a covenant, he said, where you leave and cleave. You covenant, you pledge complete, unconditional, sacrificial love that mirrors God's love for us.

What God has joined together, he says, nobody should separate. You are listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer and the beginning of a new teaching series called Forever Family. If you missed part of this message or would like to view the transcript, visit us at Pastor J.D., we're looking at what Jesus taught about marriage, sex, singleness, family, and other small relational topics over the next couple of weeks.

Can you tell us a little bit more about this study? Yeah. I mean, our favorite thing to do at the Summit Church is to work our way through books of the Bible. Every once in a while, though, we realize that there's certain themes that need a little special attention. And it's not that we're going outside of the Bible, it's just that we're tracing a theme through the Bible. And that's what happens in this series is when you think about the place of brokenness and pain, and if I were to ask you about the place of the greatest happiness and joy, you'd probably answer the same thing, which is marriage and romance. What if the gospel was being preached to us in both of those dimensions?

That's not an attempt to sentimentalize romance as much as it is to say that at the place of brokenness is where Christ meets us most. So as always, we're going to provide resources to go along with this. If you go to, ways that you can amplify the message by not just hearing it on the radio here or through the podcast, but by actually getting into the Word so that it sticks. We'd love to get you a copy of One Day at a Time, Pastor Kyle Eidelman's 60-day devotional, to help you learn to love people the way that God does. To get your copy, just give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or give online anytime at I'm Molly Vidovitch, inviting you to join us next week for the Forever Family series.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, don't miss these important reminders to always seek God first so that you have His grace in every relationship. We'll see you next time on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-16 10:08:12 / 2024-02-16 10:19:20 / 11

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