Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Mark’s gospel account the 10th chapter (Mark 10:2-16).
Beloved in the Lord,
In the beginning all was good. The LORD’s goodness was made manifest in His creation, chiefly in His creation of humanity. From the dust He brought forth Adam. And from Adam’s rib came Adam’s bride, Eve. Breathing His breath into Adam and Eve, He quickened them unto life, life from the mouth of God, life that lives forever, life never intending to be torn asunder from God nor each other. For the Lord is a God of Life. And this life is good, very good, so good that this life fashions man and woman into living beings.
But Adam would not be content as a creature. Adam’s children bear Adam’s desires. To be a creature is to owe your life to the One who created you. To be a god is choose for oneself good and evil, right and wrong, life and death. Adam was not content with His creator. Nor are you. Nor am I. Fallen as we are we follow Adam’s path and delight to be our own gods. We are not content to be creatures but rather lust for the opportunity to choose for ourselves. We want to be pro-choice and all that that entails; politically, socially, morally, liturgically, etc, etc, etc. Pro-choice is pro- autonomy. To be autonomous is to be a law unto oneself. We want to choose our own destiny, choose our own morality, choose our own life, our own way, and our own truth. We are not content to be creatures but we want to be gods. Having exchanged the LORD’s image and likeness for a piece of fruit, we now do all that we can to form and fashion god in our image and our likeness.
Thus we have before us this morning the question of marriage and divorce. It is a question put to Jesus by the Pharisees to test Him. The Pharisees are no different than their father Adam, no different than you or me. Wanting to be like God and not creatures, they also want to be able to choose for themselves who they can marry and who they can divorce. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife, they asked.” The Pharisees ask a law question. Asking a Law questions they are sure to get a law answer. Law answers can be weighed, measured, evaluated, examined, gauged, quantified, and appraised. Law questions seek to establish worth, value and dignity according to merit. Law questions seek wiggle room, loopholes, escape.
But Jesus will not allow the Law to be manipulated. Rather He sets the Law to do its work. “What does Moses command?” Jesus says. In other words, “what does the Law actually say.” Well, “Moses permitted a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away.” Yes, “because of the hardness of your heart! But it was not so in the beginning!” Jesus goes to the heart with the Law. He pierces the Pharisees’ and He strikes our own. Divorce is because of the hardness of our hearts! To argue otherwise is to argue with Jesus. His Word is clear. “What God has joined together let not man separate.” (Mark 2:9) His will is written. “I hate divorce!” (Malachi 2:16 NKJV). His counsel is proclaimed, “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband . . . and the husband should not divorce his wife. (1Co 7:10-11 ESV).
Divorce is contrary to the will of God. There is no wiggle room for our hearts only conviction. Divorce is sin. The sin of divorce does damage, damage to men, women, and most especially children. The sin of divorce brings shame, shame on the guilty and even shame on the innocent. No matter how much we creatures attempt to normalize the breakup of the family, to lessen its impact upon husband and wife, parents and children, divorce does damage. And there are a lot of damaged souls and broken consciences in our midst and in our world.
This damage is felt by all, even those who have not suffered through divorce. For when we creatures move to be gods we call good what the LORD has called evil. And after a while, in order to justify ourselves, we begin to call evil what God has called good. We reinvent morality. We redefine love, marriage, family, even sex. We play god. And when humanity plays god, humanity suffers greatly. Dignity, value, and worth are determined by one’s merits according to the wisdom of men, women, and children. People become commodities to be traded. Children become products to be purchased at all costs or aborted for any reason. Husbands and wives become disposable, dispensable, and exchangeable. With the breakdown of marriage and the family everything is vulnerable to destruction.
In the midst of destruction we still want to retain control. But we are not gods. We are creatures. As such we are dependent on our Creator, the God who formed us and breathed His breath of life into us, quickening us in body and soul to live forever with Him and each other.
Thus, where Adam failed, Jesus was faithful for you. Adam took of the fruit for himself. He seized the opportunity to be equal with God, and he sought to exalt himself before the LORD. Taking, He sinned. Eating, He fell. Exalting himself he brought shame on all humanity. Not so with Jesus. “Though He was in the form of God, He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” (Phil. 2:6) He did not take His rightful place and forsake His fallen and blemished bride. NO! He humbled Himself and became obedient, even unto death, even death on a cross. Our Lord’s heart was not hardened with conceit or anger. His focus was not on Himself. But for the “joy set before Him Jesus endure the cross, scorning its shame” (Hebrews 12:2 ff.). He sought to cleanse His bride with the washing of regeneration. He moved to love her, not as we define love, but as God is love.
Therefore, in love for His bride, in love for the Church, in love for you, Jesus gave Himself up. Rather than taking for Himself, He offered Himself. Rather than eating, He drank the cup of God’s wrath. Rather than exalting Himself He humbled Himself. He became low, got dirty, suffered our shame, endured our desecration, was mocked, was bloodied, was crucified, dead and buried. What bridegroom would do such a thing for His bride? Many a man might die for the woman he loves, but would a man die for such an unfaithful, rebellious, harlot. “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ Jesus died.” (Romans 5:6) The death He died He died once for all, once for you and me and the whole world.
Therefore we are justified, made right in God’s sight, by His blood. For the life of the creature is in its blood. Jesus has given His blood. He’s given His life! His life-blood washes away our sins. His life-blood removes the spots, the stains and the blemishes which our consciences suffer on account of sin. And His life-blood covers over our shame. No more are we naked bearing our shame before God and our neighbor but we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ that has been purchased for us through His death and resurrection and given to us in the waters of our baptism. Here, at this well Jesus meets His bride and weds Himself to her, to you and me and our children. Here, from this font, Jesus gives living water, water that gives life, new life, regenerated life, good life, life that lives forever. Here He restores our dignity, value and worth. Here, in water and the Word He offers you to bathe and be made well. That’s what Love does for His beloved.
I know beloved, that we live in a world where divorce and remarriage is more common than not. I know that there are those who have suffered divorce against their wishes. I know that there are those who have been the cause of the break-up. Every divorce is a failure, a failure of the heart, a failure of faith, a failure of love. I believe that everyone who has endured divorce, both guilty and innocent alike, deep down has felt the sting of God’s law, and the shame of failure. We know that divorce isn’t right even when it is permitted.
So, We Christians ought not attempt to justify our past, whether we are the guilty party or the innocent party. Whatever the case, we are creatures who have fallen short of our Creator’s will. And so, Jesus calls us to repent and believe the gospel. Don’t ask law questions, for you will always be found lacking. You will always be short. The call of the LORD and His Word are meant to turn our hearts away from our failures, our sins, our past, our hurts our sorrows, and towards Himself; His Word, His Baptism, and His Holy Supper.
Dear Christian, the illusion of choice and autonomy leads to sin. Sin leads to death. But the Word of God leads to Jesus and Jesus is life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And He would give you life, new life, good life, life that lives forever through the forgiveness of your sins and the cleansing of your conscience. Our bridegroom would give Himself to you. Thus the offering, “take and eat, this is my Body. Take and drink, this is my Blood.” What bridegroom would give such good gifts to His Bride? There are none amongst us, but only Jesus.
Beloved in the Lord, it is all too evident that when we seek to choose for ourselves right and wrong, good and evil, life and death. We always fall short of the glory of God. Today the Savior sets before us good things. Marriage is one of them. Children is another. Family is a blessing from the Lord and it is good for man, for woman, for child. Thus it is good for you. Your marriage is to be a blessing for you, for your neighbors, your community, and your nation. From the two our Creator makes One. The two become one flesh. This is a good thing! From such a good thing comes forth new life, infant life for our God is the God of life, all life.
Therefore, let us Christians be transformed by God’s Word and present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, having been cleansed by the most Holy Blood of Jesus. Let us not conform to the ways of the World, seeking out new ways to redefine what we know is written on our hearts. And let us embrace Jesus our Bridegroom that He may present us to His Father without spot, stain or blemish, washed in the tide of His passion. Yes, beloved let us cleave to our Redeemer for He makes all things new, even good, very good. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!