June 12

Text: Matthew 19:3

 And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?" (NASB)

Before I retired from many years of preaching, I was accustomed to being asked questions, including “unusual” questions.  “Unusual” questions did not bother me if the asker was sincere and seeking to understand.  With such a person, I tended to be patent and understanding.  If the person apologized for asking the question, I often would reassure that person by observing that there were no silly questions.

However, if a person asked me a “good,” well-stated question, but he/she had a poor motive for asking, I might not answer him/her at all.  I despised (and still do) being “set up.”  The motive of the asker powerful influenced my willingness to answer.

I cannot imagine having the power to know the motives of all askers before they asked.  Often we never think about Jesus’ responsibility that came with having his power.  “I know what he/she is trying to do!  Should I answer for others’ sake, should I challenge the asker, or should I ignore him/her?” 

On this occasion, Jesus knew he was being tested!  The askers were trying to set him up!  They were not seeking a correct understanding.  They were seeking a basis for a criticism that would alienate his following.  His popularity was dangerous to them and their position!  Correctness had nothing to do with the reason for the question.  The objective was to defeat Jesus—not to understand truth.

Divorce was a common practice.  There were many specific reasons for the practice.  The reasons were highly emotional.  A question regarding divorce was considered to be reasonable.  Such questions were easy to ask without appearing to be ridiculous.

Note, for them, the heart of the issue was not the practice of divorce but the “for any cause at all?”  For them, the practice was in keeping with scripture.  The reasons for divorce were the emotional issue.

Suggestion for reflection:  Do you hide truth with emotion?  If so, when?  (Read Mark 12:13-17.)

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