The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation 
"What God has joined together, let no man put asunder"


Scripture: Mark 10:1-12

1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" 3 He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" 4 They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away." 5 But Jesus said to them, "For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, `God made them male and female.' 7 `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

Meditation: What is God's intention for our state in life, whether married or single?  Jesus deals with the issue of divorce by taking his hearers back to the beginning of creation and to God's plan for the human race.  In Genesis 2:23-24 we see God's intention and ideal that two people who marry should become so indissolubly one that they are one flesh.  That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve.  They were created for each other and for no one else.  They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come.  Jesus explains that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal.  Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands.  Jesus, likewise sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 19:12).  Both marriage and celibacy are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God.  Our lives are not our own, but they belong to God.  He gives the grace and power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life.  Do you seek the Lord and his grace in your state of life?

What did Jesus have in mind when he said that a husband and wife are to be "one flesh"?  He likely intended it to mean more than just a partnership for establishing a family or intimate companionship between two individuals.  Marriage involves a partnership of not just two persons -- a husband and wife, but a third as well.  It is God who joins with a husband and wife when they become "one flesh".  That is why Paul the Apostle used marriage as an analogy for Christ and the church, his bride (Ephes. 5:31).  God wants an unbreakable union between himself and his people.  And this is only possible through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit who purifies us and makes us one in Christ.  Tertullian, an early second century Christian author, wrote the following to his wife:  "Where are we to find language adequately to express the happiness of that marriage which the church cements, the oblation confirms, the benediction signs and seals, the angels celebrate, and the Father holds as approved?  For all around the earth young people do not rightly and lawfully wed without their parents' consent.  What kind of yoke is that of two believers who share one hope, one desire, one discipline, one service?  They enjoy kinship in spirit and in flesh.  They are mutual servants with no discrepancy of interests.  Truly they are 'two in one flesh.' Where the flesh is one, the spirit is one as well.  Together they pray, together they bow down, together perform their fasts, mutually teaching, mutually entreating, mutually upholding.  In the church of God they hold an equal place.  They stand equal at the banquet of God, equally in crises, equally facing persecutions, and equally in refreshments.  Neither hides anything from the other.  Neither neglects the other.  Neither is troublesome to the other."  What can be more profound than the union of man and woman in marriage?  Our union with God. We are called to be one with God, in a union so intimate and a bond so strong that nothing can separate it or destroy it, not even death itself (Rom. 8:35; Song of Solomon 8:6).  Do you seek intimate fellowship and union with God?

"Lord Jesus Christ, your call to holiness extends to all in every state of life. Sanctify our lives as married couples and as singles that we may live as men and women who are consecrated to you. Make us leaven in a society that disdains life-long marriage fidelity, chastity, and living single for the Lord".


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 (c) 2000 Don Schwager