Did you know, marriage is a permanent spiritual union? (Matthew 19:3-6) If you are in a marriage right now, God wants it to last. I may not understand how you came to be married, but if you are, God wants this marriage, to last. Uh-oh, here come the Pharisees. Many of you have met some of them, and they now come to trap Jesus. Matthew 19:3~And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” (ESV) 

Remember the Pharisees knew John the Baptist was imprisoned and summarily slaughtered because of his preaching about marriage and divorce. Hoping to ensnare Messiah they awaited His response. In the first century, like in most others, divorce is a hotly debated issue. However, understand that the only opinion which matters is our Lord’s. Rebutting question for question, in Matthew 19:4 ~He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, (ESV) I am going to try this in my next counseling appointment. When you come to me and ask me a question, I am going to look at you and say, Have you not read the Bible? Good chat, I like where your head is at, see you next week. 

Jesus quotes from Genesis 5:2~He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created. (NIV) Then our Lord sets about unpacking God’s ideal marriage, which is male and female not male and male or female and female. Genesis 2:24~That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united (דָּבַק dabaq) to his wife, and they become one flesh. (NIV) The word (דָּבַק dabaq) means to cleve, to hold fast, not stick, to abide. Yeah, abide, like when Jesus said in John 15:4~Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (ESV) Become One, that is what Christ Jesus said about marriage. The word (דָּבַק dabaq) refers to permanent bonding. No men, I didn’t say bondage, I said bonding. Become one in God’s eyes. 

Why not take time today to look for a special gift for the day of romance fast approaching (February 14, 2020). Instead of making the myopic trip for just chocolate, why not spend the extra time choosing something that is truly special. Then begin by using words of affirmation and small gestures over the next two weeks to strengthen your relationship. Then you won’t be waiting for the last minute to say, I love and appreciate you.

Who’s the greatest?

After walking with the Lord for a little while our humanity feels pretty good. We settle into a daily quiet time, have a prayer life and regularly attend worship. We feel like we have gotten the hang of faith life, and we start to wonder just how great we are, ever done that? Had a season where you felt really mature and strong? This familiarity and comfort led the disciples to ask Jesus a burning question. Who will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Christ Jesus responds with childlike faith. Matthew 19:1~Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. (ESV)

Like a wry eyed pod of pelicans posted, a flock of seagulls swarm atop a seafaring fisherman’s return, large congregations amass thronging about Him, longing for the healer’s medicinal reprieve. Matthew 19:2~ And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. (ESV) Jesus is now moving toward Jerusalem where on a hill far away stood an old rugged cross. The emblem of suffering and shame. For a world of lost sinners was slain. (George Bernard, 1912) John 6:69~We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God. (NIV) Pete, he sees it, the disciples, they are embracing grace’s great vice grip. Our Lamb…Revelation 13:8~…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. (NIV) Now bound for His appointed, on-time departure at Golgotha’s station. This week we are going to look at being knotted to our commitments in Christ, as Jesus shares three teachings about marriage, divorce and being single.

Today, how are you standing firm in your life commitments. Take time to ask the Lord for His help to prepare you for the journey ahead.

True Forgiveness

Apprehend—to arrest, understand, perceive, or to seize. As we begin our chat today, I want you to apprehend the importance of forgiveness (18:21-35). Often our self-righteousness can cause us to become legalistic and to forget the importance of forgiveness. Therefore, the Holy Spirit inspires Matthew to record that Pete comes up to Jesus and asks specifically about forgiveness. Matthew 18:21~ Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? (ESV) Pete probably thinks he is being very generous since the rabbis taught a repeat offender should be forgiven only three times, but not Jesus. Matthew 18:22~I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. (ESV) 

The Greek reads (ἑβδομηκοντάκις hebdomē kontakis ἑπτά hepta) it is translated seventy times seven or 7–7s. Either way, forgiveness is to be unlimited. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:5 love keeps no records of wrongs and Jesus said in John 13:35 love is how they know you are His disciples. Seizing this opportunity Christ Jesus illustrates it with a parable—a servant who is unforgiving. Christ Jesus says a king wanted to clear the books. Matthew 18:24~When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. (ESV) 

10,000 of anything is a lot and Jesus uses it to represent an amount impossible to repay. If it was silver @$15/oz it would be $165 Million. If it was Gold that he owed the king, it would be billions. The point isn’t really the number so much, but rather the insurmountable debt, with absolutely no possible way to repay. Therefore his debt sold him into slavery. The parallel we find on the spiritual side is that we have a sin debt that is so large we can never be good enough, or work hard enough to pay off our sin debt with God, which is why we need Jesus.

Matthew 18:25-27~since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children…So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything…out of pity…the master of that servant released…and forgave…(ESV) Jesus is offering us a spiritual picture of our own sin debt. However, the servant falls on his knees and pleads for forgiveness. After all, kings are in the habit of writing off millions or billions in debt, right? Yeah, this king does just that. Then that very servant, in turn, finds one who owes him a hundred denarii. 100 days of wages, three months of work. As he chokes and demands, his fellow servant pleads for mercy. Matthew 18:29~So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ (ESV) 

Fresh off his own forgiveness, He is without forgiveness. As you well know, people are always watching how we live, act, and treat others. These dutiful citizens report these events to the king, who recalls the servant, and declares him wicked. Jesus says in Matthew 18:35~So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (ESV) Refusing to truly forgive has serious consequences. Jesus says to forgive from our hearts. Which means not just acting as if we have forgiven, but really letting go of what will only bind us up. Forgiveness means release.

If you want to be released from the prison of unforgiveness, the go and make amends. To make amends means to correct a mistake. So, yes, unforgiveness is a mistake, meaning it is wrong. No matter the side we find ourselves on, it’s a huge mistake. Unforgiveness is a cruel prison with a brutal taskmaster. Even worse, we are the ones who place ourselves into this prison, by not letting go of past hurts, the words that were spoken, or the moments and situations where people have often let us down. 

If you think there is just no way to forgive, you just can’t do it. Then I want you to remember the promise of Philippians 4:13~I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (NIV) Before you move out of this moment, I want you to pray and ask God for the strength and the courage to let go of your hurt, to relinquish the pain and surrender to Him as you ask Him to help you be free. Let God’s abundant grace flow on, in and through your lives today.