Learned people challenged Jesus on all sorts of topics: healing, observance of the sabbath, taxes, marriage, and more. They hoped to trip him up with hair-splitting questions on technicalities of living the faith. Each time, Jesus responded with a challenge to deeper discipleship. In this passage, Jesus first challenges the learned people to honor the scriptural description of marriage as “one flesh,” and he privately admonishes his disciples to avoid divorce.
Human relationships are never guaranteed to work out. Sometimes things beyond our control put our relationships to the test. Sometimes we don’t bring our best selves to our relationships. Sometimes we have to make painful choices in order to go on living.
I have puzzled over the difference between Jesus’ words for the larger audience and his strict teaching for the smaller group of disciples. Does he intend for the “no divorce” teaching to apply to everyone or only to his closest companions?
I don’t know if I can answer this question, but I can say that Jesus calls each of us to treat human relationships as gifts from God. Jesus challenges us to accept each person we meet as a child of God, made in God’s image. He treats the woman at the well, who has been married multiple times, as the child of God she is, worthy of love. (See John 4:1-30.) He instructs the lawyer to show mercy and be a good neighbor. (See Luke 10:25-37.) Jesus challenges his listeners to forego rights and privileges in favor of the more vulnerable in society.
We are called to see the image of God in each person and to treat others accordingly. When our relationships suffer, we are called to lean on the One who made us in the divine image.
Lord, help me to see others with your loving eyes. Keep me from insisting on my own privileges, and help me see things from the perspective of those more in need than I. Amen.
This week we read about Job, an upright man who faces severe trials but never loses his faith. Job’s story brings us face-to-face with the fact that living a godly life does not make us immune to suffering. Like Job, the psalmist wonders why he suffers, even though he lives according to God’s standards. Hebrews presents Jesus as the ultimate example of unwarranted suffering, yet because of his perseverance he is ultimately glorified. In Mark, some Pharisees test Jesus on the interpretation of the law concerning divorce. Jesus makes strong statements about marriage, but his larger concern is that their hearts have become hard. He contrasts them with little children, who model faith by receiving God with an open heart.
Read Job 1:1; 2:1-10. What helps you to live with integrity?
Read Psalm 26. Do you feel free in your prayer life to honestly share with God all that you are feeling?
Read Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12. In what ways does God speak to us in our day?
Read Mark 10:2-16. What qualities found in children do you try to cultivate in your spiritual life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.