Matthew 19

Matthew 19 - March 9th



Marriage is a sacred union God has instituted from creation between a man and a woman in which the two become one flesh (Genesis 2:24). Marriage is designed to be a permanent union within this earthly life (1 Corinthians 7:39) (Matthew 19:7) and its greatest purpose is that of being a picture of Christ, and his bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33).  I start by saying this because it is crucial to understand the importance and significance of marriage according to the Scriptures to properly understand Jesus’ teaching here on divorce. We must have the same high view of marriage as Jesus. Though the law of Moses concedes to divorce (the reason for which is too lengthy to go into detail within these notes), this was not the natural nor intended way of things, and it was only ever because of the sinfulness and hard-heartedness of man that divorce was even permitted. God created marriage to be a lifelong union rather than a casual relationship.


There are only three reasons that are permitted in the Scriptures for the union between a husband and wife to end. One is death, as is found in Romans 7:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:39. The second is sexual immorality, as is found here in Matthew 19:9 as well as Matthew 5:31-32. And the third is the situation in which a believer and unbeliever are married, and the unbeliever chooses to abandon (divorce) his/her Christian spouse. It is only within these circumstances that divorce and remarriage are permitted in scripture; however, they are not commanded. 


This is an extremely delicate and comprehensive topic and one which I am simply not able nor skilled enough to fit in these short notes. I would like to summarize what is being said in these verses by stating that we, as Christians, should hold the institution of marriage in high esteem. We should not be like the world that has stripped marriage of all its weight, worth, and beauty. Nor promote, nor seek divorces; rather, we are to seek to promote and maintain marriage to the glory of God.


The Rich Young Ruler

The story of the rich young ruler is not merely that of a man who was deceived by his love for his material wealth, but that of a man who was deluded by a love for a false perception of his spiritual wealth. This entire confrontation between Jesus and the rich young ruler is less to do with material wealth and more to do with a failure to see spiritual bankruptcy. The man comes asking Jesus what good thing he must do in order to have eternal life. We can already see his failure, for he believes that he has the ability to gain eternal life through his works. Jesus’ response addresses this head-on, “why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good.” Jesus here is challenging the man’s definition of good; for as we will later see, the man ascribes this erroneous definition of goodness to himself. Jesus knows that this man is deluded by his self-righteousness, and so Jesus next points him to the Law by saying, “if you would enter life, keep the commandments”, he then proceeds to give a list of several commandments found in the ten-commandments. Why does Jesus do this? Is he saying that man can be justified by the Law? No! Rather he is pointing the man to the Law in order for the man to see his own sinfulness. Jesus is using the Law in its intended purpose, as a mirror for man to compare himself to the perfect standard of God and thus see he is condemned (Romans 3:20, 7:7-11). But rather than recognize his own depravity and declare, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” as Paul does, he declares, “All these I have kept”. A true fool indeed. Matthew 5:3 declares, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, but this man believed he was spiritually rich, and so he was self-deceived.


Jesus next reveals this man’s shortcomings by stating that he must only do one thing, and that is to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor. Let me be clear, Jesus is not here declaring a new way of salvation, rather, he is dealing with this man directly and pointing out his sin. He is disillusioning this man from his enchantment. So what does the man do? Exactly what is expected, he goes way sorrowful. Why do I say this is exactly what was expected? Because he failed to see his wickedness and failed to see that the one standing before him was the Christ, the Son of God, the only one capable of taking his sin away. By failing to see his spiritual poverty, he failed to see the worth of Christ. Christ was worth nothing to him, certainly not more than his earthly possessions. Jesus revealed this man’s idolatry. He loved the treasure of the world more than the treasure of heaven, and he loved his money more than he loved the God of all creation who was standing right before him.


This man failed just like Judas did; he forfeited the Son of God for a bag of silver. Jesus is correct in saying that it is with difficulty that a rich person will enter the kingdom of heaven. I believe that this does not only mean those who are rich materially but who fail to see their spiritual poverty before God and thus believe themselves wealthy. The disciples wonder if this man who seemingly “kept all the commandments” and was rich (which many believed was a definite sign that God’s favor was upon them) cannot be saved, “Who can be saved”. This is how! “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”. 


 No list of sins I have not done

No list of virtues I pursue

No list of those I am not like

Can earn myself a place with You

O God, be merciful to me

I am a sinner through and through

My only hope of righteousness

Is not in me, but only You

No humble dress, no fervent prayer

No lifted hands, no tearful song

No recitation of the truth

Can justify a single wrong

My righteousness is Jesus' life

My debt was paid by Jesus' death

My weary load was borne by Him

And He alone can give me rest

No separation from the world

No work I do, no gift I give

Can cleanse my conscience, cleanse my hands

I cannot cause my soul to live

But Jesus died and rose again

The power of death is overthrown

My God is merciful to me

And merciful in Christ alone (my righteousness)

My righteousness is Jesus' life

My debt was paid by Jesus' death

My weary load was borne by Him

And He alone can give me rest

Yes He alone can give me rest