-As Jesus now came into the Judean region beyond the Jordan after departing Galilee performing more healings and gathering large crowds, the Pharisees seized an opportunity to test Jesus in this account on the issue of divorce (Matthew 19:1-12). Jesus wisely taught them, and all of us by the written Word, what the man/woman relationship was all about in the eyes of the LORD. In God’s eyes marriage is sanctified and holy. The two come together in what is designed to be an unbroken union to last until death on this earth (There is no marriage between man and woman in Heaven, Mark 12:25). This is a picture of our eternal union with the LORD. He is the groom and we as believers are His bride (Revelation 19:7-9). Hardness of heart is what breaks up the marriage out of an adulterous attitude. Divorce is about division and faction that springs up from insincerity and a lack of faithfulness and unity. It is tantamount to idolatry in the spiritual realm, which is the thing marriage should teach us in the first place if we dare to consider it. So Jesus refutes their tricks and tests wonderfully as He quickly discerned their intentions and skillfully answered with precision and accuracy according to the Spirit of the LORD. *Application* Just as marriage is designed to an unbreakable union, so too our relationship should be with God. God is faithful and consummates our relationship through His Spirit by sealing us (Ephesians 4:30). We can grieve Him when we act unfaithfully towards Him, but it is His covenant to us that is bidding and He will never let us go (John 10:27-30). Isn’t it great to think that God will never divorce us as His children? He is faithful!
-The multitudes were bringing their children (even their babies, Luke 18:15) to Jesus so that He may lay hands on them and bless them (Matthew 19:13-15). The disciples thought this would be a bother to the Master and culturally it was an unacceptable practice to give the young ones any dignity such as this. However, the Christ called for them and remarked that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these (children). He went on to say that unless one accepts the Kingdom of God “like a child” they will not enter it at all. What could Jesus possibly have meant by such a saying? For us to answer that question we must consider the attributes of children and how they respond to the things of God. Consider these qualities of children and their relationship to the Kingdom:
1) Humility- There is no place in the Kingdom of God for those who trust in themselves (previous) or those who believe they can earn or work their way to Heaven (after). The ones who are low, who will humble themselves and seek the LORD, will be accepted (Matt. 18:4). We must give up our rights and our pride to come to this Savior, there is no other way. It is a death to self and these children were willing. A nothing to lose mentality.
2) Dependence- That these were (and still are) the ones that cast their dependence on the LORD. Little ones know that they can’t do it by themselves. They need help and are willing to allow those more capable to assist them in what they need done.
3) Faith- They have faith and trust in the LORD much more than adults. (Remember the warning on causing them to stumble, Matt. 18:6)
4) Purity- They are less tainted by the world, closer to the image of God that He created us to be, they are more pure (although there is ample evidence of a sin nature)
5) Freedom from worldly desires- Little ones have a special enthusiasm for the things of God, a joy in the little things, don’t worry about things as much (Matt. 6 on being anxious, Matt. 6:33 “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you)
6) Persistence- Like the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), children don’t know when to quit asking. They keep at it until they get their way.
There could be many more qualities, but I think we are beginning to get the point Jesus was making. *Application* Where are you at in your quest for the Kingdom of God?
1) Have you become as a child?
2) Have you humbled yourself as a child?
3) Are you completely dependent on the Lord?
4) Do you have the faith of a child?
5) Do you hunger and thirst after righteous?
-Next, the rich young ruler approached Jesus as He was setting out on a journey with an important question. “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” he asked. This is the heart of every religious system of works. His misperception was that he could earn eternal life in his own power and by his own way. It was the same spirit as the pious Pharisees that Jesus often encountered. In actuality, the rich man was breaking every single one of the Ten Commandments that he professed to keep. He broke the first four because he had the idol of money in his heart toward God. The last six, which deal with how we love our neighbor, were broken because he was unwilling to share his wealth. Jesus succinctly and acutely pointed out his sin with love (Mark 10:21) and invited him to give up the old way of life for the new in following Him with complete abandon. This he was unwilling to do because of his wealth and property, which sent him away grieving, still lost in his sins. Jesus teaches that inheritance in the Kingdom of God is impossible with men, but with God it really is possible. *Application* This is a stark reminder to us about where our affection is. Do we really love God above everything and people as much as ourselves? Consider the love of Christ and give it all up for Him and His glory just as the true disciples did. He will add all these other things unto you when you do (Matthew 6:33). Come follow Him!
-As the rich young ruler, who rejected the call of Christ, departs Peter remarks how they had left everything behind to follow the Messiah and asks what is in it for them (the disciples). Jesus tells them that in the regeneration (the new world, glorification) when He sits on His glorious throne, that they will also have twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My Name’s sake, will receive many times as much along with persecutions, and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:30).” Then He said that many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first. In other words, this earth is not the end of the story. *Application* Jesus never promised ease in this life and we should not expect it in an earthly sense even though there is promise that what we give up will come back to us in greater measure. There will be persecution and hardship, so count up the cost of becoming a disciple before you jump into His Kingdom work. There will be times of struggle, but we as His children fight through the victory that is assured to us. God never fails though tests and trials may come for the purpose of drawing us ever closer to Him. God is faithful and keeps all of His good promises (Joshua 21:45).
Verses to Memorize: Matthew 19:6, 29