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Divorce and Children

Study Passage: Matthew 19:1-15

By now we have come to understand that Matthew balances words that Jesus said with works that Jesus does.  This is a good example for us.  Here we begin by reading that “when Jesus had finished these sayings (words), he departed . . . and he healed (works) them all.”  Immediately after this, we come to a lengthy dialogue (words) about divorce.

“Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” ~ Matthew 19:3

The Pharisees pose a leading question in verse 3: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause [for just any reason]?”  In order to appreciate the subtle dilemma in which the Pharisees thought they could entrap our Lord, we need to know that the Jews of the day were divided in their loyalty to the leading rabbis of the first century: Shammei and Hillel.  Shammai espoused a very traditional, conservative interpretation of the Old Testament, while Hillel took a much more contemporary, liberal approach to the interpretation of the Law.  Shammai taught that divorce was permissible only on the grounds of marital unfaithfulness.  Hillel taught that divorce was the appropriate solution to any kind of incompatibility.  Therefore, no matter which “side” Jesus took, He would encounter a fierce reaction.  We too often feel the pressure of choosing a side between popular religious leaders. Jesus appealed to the ultimate authority, modeling for all believers to always appeal to the written Word of God.

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 19:14

What a breath of fresh air verses 13-15 provide!  What a wonderful example Jesus sets for us in His kind and tender dealing with children!

Getting the facts #1:  Matthew 19:1-6

  • What was the purpose of the religious leaders’ question?
  • How did Jesus respond to their tricky question?

Getting the facts #2:  Matthew 19:7-9

  • The religious leader knew what Scripture said but did not understand why God said what he said.  Why did Jesus say the Scriptures allowed for divorce? 

Getting the facts #3:  Matthew 19:10-12

  • The disciples’ response reveals that divorce was a common practice in their society.  How did Jesus respond to the question of celibacy? 

Getting the facts #4:  Matthew 19:13-15

  • What do you believe these verses teach concerning children?

Warren Wiersbe “Be Loyal” lesson 16  (chapter 16 in the Matthew portion of the Wiersbe Bible Commentary set) – “THE KING’S INSTRUCTIONS” Matthew 19:1-15

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