THE GOSPEL OF MARK – NOT THE ACT BUT THE MOTIVE

NOT THE ACT BUT THE MOTIVE

1 Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:1-12

What Jesus said about divorce and the way it is generally interpreted are two different things. He focussed, not on the act of divorce but on the motive or reason for divorce. Long before divorce separates two people who have been married, ECHAD has been ruptured by thoughts, attitudes and actions that have already destroyed the unity in the heart. The act of divorce is merely the confirmation and completion of what has already happened in the heart.

In Matthew 19, Jesus pointed to marital unfaithfulness as the reason for breaking the ECHAD, not only adultery but anything that violates the marriage agreement entered into freely by both parties antenuptially. Jesus made it clear that the marital unfaithfulness was not as much the issue as the reason for it. It seems that the Pharisees were looking for a legal loophole to legitimise divorce on the grounds of marital unfaithfulness. He recognised their hard-heartedness as the reason for divorce. They were not looking for ways to uphold the ECHAD but to break it so that, according to them, divorce could be “legal”. For Jesus, in line with His teaching in Matthew 5, what constituted adultery was what lay in the heart long before it was acted in the behaviour.

It is not the act of marrying someone else that is adultery but divorcing one’s spouse in order to marry someone else that is the problem. It was this inward thing that Jesus was exposing in the religious leaders and this was what they hated most about Him. He was able to see right into their wicked hearts and tell them the truth that offended them so that their hearts were exposed.

God established marriage as a visual aid of the ECHAD that exists within the Godhead. To protect the love that fosters unity and the unity that reflects the image of God should be our highest priority because it is God’s priority. When we look for excuses and make choices that destroy ECHAD, we attack the very essence of who God is and how the entire universe functions.

Categories: Bible Study Tags: , ,

Luella Campbell


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