Mark 10:2-16 The Message
1-2 From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, "Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?"
3Jesus said, "What did Moses command?"
4They answered, "Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her."
5-9Jesus said, "Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart."
10-12When they were back home, the disciples brought it up again. Jesus gave it to them straight: "A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery."
13-16The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.
Divorce, it’s a touchy subject. Apparently it always has been. In the Hebrew tradition there were a few reasons for divorce—all of them allowed the husband to divorce his wife but she could not file for divorce. A wife was at her husband’s mercy. Once divorced, she would have nowhere to go; it would be unlikely that she would be accepted at her home.
The odd thing that Jesus says is that a woman could ask for divorce. This wasn’t a part of the Israelite culture that historians know of, so one wonders why Jesus mentions a woman divorcing her husband. However, Jesus honored women, treated them as equals—perhaps this was another way in which he understood them to be equal, that a woman might desire to divorce her husband due to lust and desire for another.
Humans lust for the new, the prettier, the more beautiful, the smarter, and the stronger. Lust and betrayal are not limited to men or women—we are all susceptible to them. We are all susceptible to hardening our hearts, to turning against the ones that we have loved.
Children remind us how to love. Children love freely and without reservation. This scripture jumps from divorce to children. Children are often the ones most hurt by divorce and yet they continue to love in the face of great pain and anguish. This is what Jesus did on the cross. He continued to love in the face of betrayal, pray for forgiveness for those who hurt him, who crucified him.
Holy One, let us love and believe not like adults who have hardened our hearts but like children who love unconditionally, let us love like Christ with forgiveness in the midst of ultimate betrayal. Amen.