What Then Will We Have?
“Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “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 his 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.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 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.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so 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. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” 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 went away. And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:1–30, ESV)
Love And Marriage
Jesus responds to various questions asked by the Pharisees, a wealthy young man, and the disciples. The answers to these questions continue the theme of kingdom ethics. This incident marks the end of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and set him on a trajectory toward the cross. The Pharisees seek to place Jesus in a place where he will make a mistake with the subject of divorce. The issue of divorce was a source of contention between the rabbis and so they believed that not matter what answer Jesus gave, he would offend someone. The difficulty arose, not because the Old Testament law had nothing to say on the subject, but because Moses did address it in Deuteronomy 24. Jesus points to the foundational principles of marriage which were a part of the creation account. Marriage was one of the provisions God made for human flourishing in God’s world. Even before sin came in to destroy God’s creation, there was only one thing that was not good–– Adam was alone. God provided a wife for him, and he ordained this as an exclusive relationship. Jesus’ view of marriage was what God has joined let not man separate. We must always begin our discussion of divorce with the biblical principle of marriage. The Pharisees press him as to why Moses would even concede the possibility. The problem was the hardness of heart. This law was designed to make divorce difficult and the last resort under extreme circumstances. Jesus recognizes that divorce can be a legitimate option but only under extraordinary circumstances. The standard taught by Jesus is chastity before marriage, fidelity during marriage, and a lifelong covenant. When the disciples heard the seriousness of the marriage covenant, they exclaim that it must be better to stay single, but Jesus does not agree with them. Jesus was not afraid of controversy and addressed any misunderstanding when asked about other issues such as, ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43–44, ESV). These questions provided the place for him to clarify or redefine marriage with regard to polygamy, Levirite marriage, same-sex marriage, etc. Instead, he pointed back to the creation account.
Jesus And Children
Parents brought their children to Jesus for him to lay his hands on them and pray. This incident reminds the disciples of the childlike requirements for kingdom life. Jesus gave himself to all levels of society including those with no rights that were the most vulnerable. The disciples seem to think that Jesus is too busy for children. They take it upon themselves to rebuke the people. Jesus quickly corrects this misstep and the disciples receive his rebuke and are reminded to such belong the kingdom.
A man comes to Jesus eager to understand what must be done to inherit eternal life thinking that he was doing all that was necessary. This young prided himself with having kept the commandments. This man thought that he lacked nothing and was well on his way to eternal life. Jesus’ response to him is that he should sell all his goods and give them to the poor, and then he should follow Jesus. The young man fails the test and goes away sorrowful. Jesus was not prescribing the selling of possessions as an absolute condition for entering the kingdom. Instead, he was exposing the young man’s heart because he was still a slave to materialism and his many possessions. Morally he was exemplary, but his heart worshiped his possessions. The incident with the young man raises the issue of wealth. Jesus suggests that it is difficult, though not impossible, for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus compares it to bringing a camel through the eye of a needle. Only by God’s intervention, grace and power is such a feat possible. Naturally speaking, it would be entirely impossible, and foolish even to try. Peter speaks up quickly to say they had left their things behind. Jesus’ answer to Peter shows that it is no loss to have given up everything to follow Jesus. There may be difficulty, suffering, even persecution, and death but those who follow will receive a priceless reward–– Jesus himself.