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19 After Jesus had finished His teaching about forgiveness, He left Galilee and He went to the section of Judea on the other side of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed Him, and when He got to Judea, He set about healing them.

The religious leaders who are eyeing the crowds and watching the healings decide it is again time to try to trip up Jesus.

So some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked Him this tricky question about divorce:

Pharisees: Is it ever lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

Jesus: Haven’t you read that in the beginning God created humanity male and female?[a] Don’t you remember what the story of our creation tells us about marriage? “For this reason, a man will leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[b] If a husband and wife are one flesh, how can they divorce? Divorce would be a bloody amputation, would it not? “What God has brought together, let no man separate.”

Pharisees: Why did Moses explain that if a man leaves his wife, then he must give her a certificate of divorce and send her away, free and clear of him?

Jesus: Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But divorce was an innovation, an accommodation to a fallen world. There was no divorce at creation. Listen, friends: if you leave your wife, unless there is adultery, and then marry another woman, you yourself are committing adultery. Only if there is adultery can you divorce your wife.

Why? Because adultery itself is the divorce. Adultery is the thing that breaks the bond of marriage. Just as an excommunication merely recognizes the fact that someone has already been removed from the people, a divorce merely legalizes what harlotry has created. But should someone leave his wife for any other reason—because he has nothing to say to her, because she continually burns his food, because she is profligate with the household resources, because he simply cannot stand the sight of her—this is outside of the message Jesus offers here. If we behave as if a marriage has been undone—indeed, some may believe that a marriage has been undone—then we are deluding ourselves. In the eyes of God, the marriage bonds still hold a man to his wife.

Disciples: 10 If this is how it is, then it is better to avoid marrying in the first place.

Jesus: 11 Not everyone can hear this teaching, only those to whom it has been given. 12 Some people do not marry, of course. Some people are eunuchs because they are born that way, others have been made eunuchs by men, and others have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who can embrace that call should do so.

13 At this, some of Jesus’ followers brought their children before Jesus; they wanted Him to place His hands on the children and pray for them. Some of the disciples, mistakenly thinking that Jesus wouldn’t want to be bothered with the likes of children, began to rebuke the crowd.

Jesus: 14 Let the little children come to Me; do not get in their way. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to children like these.

15 He laid His hands on them, He prayed with them, and then He left that spot and went elsewhere. 16 Then a young man came up to Jesus.

Young Man: Teacher, what good deed can I do to assure myself eternal life?

Jesus: 17 Strange that you should ask Me what is good. There is only One who is good. If you want to participate in His divine life, obey the Commandments.

Young Man: 18 Which Commandments in particular?

Jesus: Well, to begin with, do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.[c]

Young Man: 20 I’ve kept those Commandments faithfully. What else do I need to do?

Jesus can see the man wants to know how to participate in God’s reality, and He knows his shoulders will sag under the weight of the next hard instruction.

Jesus: 21 If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give all your money to the poor; then you will have treasure in heaven. And then come, follow Me.

22 The young man went away sad because he was very wealthy indeed.

Jesus: 23 This is the truth: it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Yes, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

25 The disciples, hearing this, were stunned.

Disciples: Who then can be saved?

Jesus: 26 People cannot save themselves. But with God, all things are possible.

Peter: 27 You just told that man to leave everything and follow You. Well, all of us have done just that. So what should we be expecting?

Jesus: 28 I tell you this. When creation is consummated and all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on His throne in glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on thrones. There will be twelve thrones, and you will sit and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 You who have left your house and your fields, or your brothers and sisters, or your father and mother, or even your children in order to follow Me, at that time when all is renewed, you will receive so much more: you will receive 100 times what you gave up. You will inherit eternal life. 30 Many of those who are the first will be last, and those who are the last will be first.

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