12/17 Matthew 19:8

8 He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

The rabbis at the time of Jesus had differing opinions on what were reasonable grounds for divorce. Some were extremely lenient and taught that for almost any reason a man was free to give his wife notice of divorce. The man who asked Jesus if that was so was probably not looking for the answer Jesus gave. He most likely sided with those who had only a few very specific reasons. Jesus turned it into just one.

Jesus taught that only in the case of adultery was the man free to divorce his wife. Jesus' reason was based on what God said in Genesis to the first couple. The two will become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). If God joined them then man should not separate them. The man asked why Moses gave a commandment concerning divorce. Didn't that contradict what Jesus just said?

Jesus replied that it was because man's heart is hard. Since men were going to divorce regardless of what God had said or willed, Moses gave guidelines. At the end of this teaching, Jesus said: "not everyone could receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given." Some people were even meant to be single. Some are intentionally single so that they can focus on serving God. Man has always struggled in this regard, but that is because we are such selfish creatures. The most beautiful marriages are those in which both spouses die to the selfish nature to serve each other. That is the picture of Jesus and His true church (Ephesians 5:32).

Consider: Marriage is the training ground to learn that joy can be found in living for another.