Sermon On The Mount Devotional Blog 16

Sermon On The Mount Devotional

A Divine Concession to a Human Weakness

Read Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV)

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Have you experience the pain of divorce? Perhaps you live in the shadow of your parents splitting up. Maybe they divorced when you were young or a teenager. Does the pain of this still live in your heart? I can remember a time when I thought divorce was “out there” and never inside my own family. This illusion was shattered one day when I received a desperate call from my brother. He said that he believed that his marriage was over! We talked for a long time, and, over the next few months and years, after many long talks, his marriage did in fact end in divorce. It was tearing and painful and everyone involved experienced the shattering impact of a divorce. God instituted marriage as a blessing, and divorce reverses this blessing, leaving part of the curse- pain and death.

What is the Sermon on the Mount all about? A relationship. While you may have never experienced the pain of divorce, perhaps you have been in a relationship in the past which was unhealthy. Perhaps it was all one-sided - you gave too much, and the other took or you did all the taking. What about a relationship where you were both takers? I was in a relationship in high school that was dangerously co-dependent. We were like two leaches, sucking the relational life from one another, leaving both of us depleted and unhealthy.

In the Sermon on the Mount we learn what it looks like to be in a relationship with Jesus, to have our old lives swallowed up and changed into something new and wonderful. This relationship is not co-dependent because Jesus does not need us. It is almost wholly one-sided. Our old lives, our old hearts, and sinful records have been swallowed up in the blood of Christ on the Cross, leaving us new and changed. Now that we are new creations in Christ, the old has gone and the new has come (II Cor. 5:17).  We are now enabled to love and give and serve in ways impossible to us previously. We can now be in relationship with Him and with others where we can give and give and give.

Previously, when we were in relationships with another where there was an unequal giving and taking, we were damaged, either being the giver or the taker. We became depleted or selfish. Now in Jesus, since He gives us life and life abundant, sustaining us as an IV fluid cord might, we can now give, to an excess, without it’s depleting us. It’s like a cord is flowing from Jesus, through us, into this other person. We are never depleted because we are not the source of the nourishment. So, we must remain connected to Him, the life-giving and sustaining source of all strength.

The Sermon on the Mount is what life looks like when we are in relationship with the One Who is an infinite source of love and sustenance. How can we live in this life-sucking world? We can live and thrive when we are in Christ. It is no accident that our (the church’s) relationship with Christ is compared to a Marriage: We are the Bride and Jesus is the Bridegroom.

In the book of Genesis, we find God creating or instituting marriage. We also learn in Malachi 2 that God hates divorce. He created marriage to be between one man and one woman, for life. The permanence of marriage was cheapened and destroyed in both the Old and New Testament times as it was made very easy for a man to divorce his wife, almost for any reason. Man could divorce his wife if he found “some indecency” in her. The liberal rabbinical school of Hillel interpreted “indecency” in the widest possible way. Indecency could be claimed if a wife spoiled her husband’s dinner, if she went around with her hair down, or spoke to a man on the street. If a wife spoke disrespectfully to the husband’s parents or if he found a woman more beautiful - almost for any reason he found acceptable could he divorce his wife.

We do also find this sort of one-sided, unequal applying of the law in Muslim countries governed by Sharia law, but in our society, we approach and perhaps rival the New Testament era of no-fault divorce. The big difference was that in this New Testament society only the men could divorce for any reason at all, while now anyone can. Marriage has been cheapened and is progressively cast aside in favor of sexual hook-ups or living together, and it is leading to generations scarred by divorce, people who have no idea what a Godly, Biblical relationship can and should look like.

In the Feb. 1973 Issue of McCall’s, a women’s magazine, an article appeared entitled, “Is Anyone Faithful Anymore?” and it included the following story. A young woman was at lunch with eleven of her friends, who had been meeting together regularly to study French. As they conversed, one of the women, the group’s leader, asked, “How many of you have been faithful throughout your marriage?” Only one woman at the table raised her hand. That evening when the young wife told her husband about the conversation, she revealed that she was not the one who had raised her hand. He was shocked and devastated. “But I have been faithful,” she added. “Then why didn’t you raise your hand?” asked her husband.  She replied, “I was ashamed.” (Sermon on the Mount by Kent Hughes, pg. 117) Ashamed of marital fidelity! That is the culture in which we are now living.

So, What Now?

Have you experienced divorce? Pray that the Lord would heal the wounds this has left in your life. Ask Him to show you that, as a member of God’s church, you are a part of the Bride of Christ. Jesus is the Bridegroom. God can show you a proper picture of marriage, what it means, what it can be like and how true love can be found in a relationship with Him.