THE MEANING OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE
Key Verses: 19:4-5
"'Haven't you read,' he replied, 'that at the beginning the
Creator "made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a
man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh"?'"
1. As Jesus traveled on toward Jerusalem where was he and what was he
doing? (1,2) Who approached him and with what question? (3) Why
did they want to test him and how was their question a test?
2. What does their question reveal about their view of marriage and of
women? Read verses 4-6. What was Jesus' answer? What did Jesus
teach about the meaning of marriage?
3. Read verses 7-9. What was the Pharisees' idea about Moses' law and
divorce? How was Moses' situation different? According to Jesus,
why did Moses give a law about divorce? Why do most people want to
divorce their spouses? (9)
4. Read verses 10-12. What was the disciples' reaction? What was their
misunderstanding of marriage? Why are some people afraid of marriage?
What did Jesus teach them about the renunciation of marriage?
5. Read verses 13-15. While they were talking, who interrupted? How
were the disciples different from Jesus in their response? What did
Jesus say and do? What does it mean to come to Jesus like a little
In the last passage we learned that we must be strong in the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ. We also must grow in the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ so that we can be happy all the time by the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ. In order to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, we must have compassion on a lost person more than the
ninety-nine people who are men and women of fame and wealth. In order
to grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should not hold a
grudge against anyone. We must forgive those who have wretchedly
wronged us. Forgiveness should be unconditional. Most of all, we must
know that we are great sinners as Paul testified about himself in 1
Timothy 1:15. It says, "...of whom I am the worst." We always think
that St. Paul is the greatest. But he confessed about himself, "I am
the worst sinner." King David became the root of Jesus not because he
was a mighty warrior but because he confessed his sins before God with
many tears, and he also forgave many kinds of adversaries instead of
doing away with them. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
us. Bible scholars entitled today's passage "Divorce." What a
despicable title to think about! In fact, when we carefully study this
passage, we find that it is about the true meaning of marriage. So let
us think about happy marriage.
First, a happy marriage (1-6). Jesus had finished his Galilean ministry
mainly in the Galilean district. Now he is on the way to Jerusalem. He
arrived in the region of Judea. As you know well, the Samaritans were
captured by the Assyrians and their blood was mixed. So the Judean
people thought of them as if they were Gentiles. Most Jews avoided
Samaritan soil and took a long route around it because Samaria occupied
a huge territory between Galilee and Judea. But Jesus came to the
region of Judea directly passing through Samaria (Jn 4:4). Jesus mainly
worked in the Galilean district, healing the sick, preaching the gospel
of Jesus and raising his disciples. But the people of the region of
Judea knew who Jesus was. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them
there out of his compassion (2).
His healing in the region of Judea was indeed gracious to look at.
But the frantic Pharisees, because of their jealousy, tested Jesus.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a
man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" (3) If Jesus had
said, "You can divorce according to Moses' law," then his answer would
contradict his own teaching, especially about love "love one another."
If Jesus had said, "Do not divorce," Jesus would seem to be opposing
the law of Moses. Here we must think about the Pharisees' mentality.
There are so many questions they could ask Jesus. Why did they ask
about divorce? The other day a man divorced his wife. Then the wife,
out of her sense of betrayal, killed her three children. When the happy
marriage was broken, her heart was broken. When her heart was broken,
she was totally irrational. Then innumerable demons crept into her soul
and she did what she should not do. Divorce breaks mostly women's
hearts; divorce also breaks children's hearts and makes them useless.
There is a nice-looking boy. His parents divorced. Everybody feels he
is like a vegetable man. One of the great men in the United States of
America was a philanthropist who went around most parts of the world
almost all his life. When his strength was exhausted, he came home. His
wife talked about her lonely life without a husband. Then the famous
philanthropist who had established 3,000 orphanages in many countries
was upset, thinking that his wife did not understand his suffering and
hard work, and only complained about her lonely life. When he was
upset, a regiment of demons came into his soul. He decided to divorce
his wife at the age of around seventy-eight and died after three days.
The other day some said that a sixty-eight-year-old man divorced his
wife simply because his wife was not young and beautiful enough. We
learn that divorce is not a natural phenomenon; it is precisely the
work of Satan. In this country so many divorces have been filed. At
first, the courts of the United States of America carefully examined
the cause of divorce and encouraged people not to divorce. But in 1970,
American courts decided to allow uncontested divorce simply because
they could not deal with so many divorces, and the budget for divorce
court was too costly so much so that the court could not be maintained.
So they decided that those who wanted to divorce could just divorce
without any question. So in this country divorce is easier than cooking
one pan of lasagna. The most sorrowful thing is not the divorced
husband and wife, but their children. Most children trust their parents
and they think their parents are number one in the world. But when
they beat each other and divorce, their children lose the joy of life
to live in the world. Finally their hearts are broken and they become
homeless. We cannot understand homeless children's sorrow and the
melancholy that overwhelms their daily lives. The Pharisees who asked
about the divorce problem to test Jesus may have wanted to divorce the
wife of their youth.
What did Jesus answer? Look at verse 4. "'Haven't you read,' he
replied, 'that at the beginning the Creator "made them male and
female..."'" This verse explains that God made the world and mankind to
bless their marriage. Verse 5 says, "...and said, 'For this reason a
man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the
two will become one flesh.'" As you know well, every father thinks that
his first son or his children love him most and that they are his
possession forever. So they work hard and invest in them unsparingly.
Fathers have great expectations, which are written about in many books.
But when sons and daughters become grown-ups and finish their school
studies, they only think about their future beautiful marriage. Sorry
to say, but the Bible says, "For this reason a man will leave his
father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become
one flesh" (5). This verse tells us that when a boy is grown up and
gets married, he has already left his father and mother to be united to
his wife. There was a beautiful wedding ceremony last October 9th. But
the groom's father said to him, "If you have a wedding ceremony, don't
go on a honeymoon and don't sleep with your wife. Come back to your
father. After you get a Nobel Prize you can sleep with your wife." But
his son, who had never disobeyed his father, disobeyed his father's
instructions and enjoyed a beautiful honeymoon. Then there was no more
room for his father in his heart, but only for his beautiful wife. His
father was upset. But his father had to know that a son is a son until
he gets married, and a daughter is a daughter as long as her parents
are alive. Sometimes it is better for us to know important sayings of
the ancients. Parents and married couples sometimes forget the meaning
of happy marriage. Jesus emphasized in verse 6: "So they are no longer
two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not
separate." Jesus' defense against the Pharisees' question about divorce
was, "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined
together, let man not separate." In this verse we learn that divorce is
not at all possible. God instituted marriage. God ordained marriage.
God blessed marriage. Marriage was established at the cost of each
father's and mother's love and undying affection, for their children
left them without reservation to marry. Marriage is not meeting
together by chance. Marriage is the focal point of God's creation. So
Jesus said to them in his apology, "Therefore what God has joined
together, let man not separate." Marriage is a happy event. But
marriage is related to the absolute providence of God. If anyone
divorces, his relationship with God is automatically broken and he or
she is cursed irrevocably fo. What is more, their children's hearts are
broken and they don't grow up as normal human beings. The meaning of
marriage is for young people to leave their fathers and mothers and
become one and be happy as long as they live in this world. And what
God has joined together, let man not separate. So married people cannot
imagine even the idea to separate.
God is wise in matching a couple. One man is intelligent and his
wife is gracious, but not so intelligent. One man is very hardworking
and diligent and has a vision of world conquest with the gospel of
Jesus, but his wife is like a genuine country girl. When we observe a
couple, the husband and wife are very different and opposite in
character and in their view of the world and way of using money. But
when we prayerfully think about why they are so different, we find that
it is God's wisdom. If two persons are just the same kind, then there
is no harmony and universal beauty and their children cannot inherit
both sides' good qualities of integrity and character. Most
importantly, if a husband and a wife are not different, the world is
boring. Because they are different, they have many stories to tell and
there is ample reason to love each other. For two to become one takes a
little time. But when two different persons become one, they can have
two thousand horsepower and nothing is impossible for them.
Second, Jesus' answer to the Pharisees' theory of divorce (7-9). Look
at verse 7. "'Why then,' they asked, 'did Moses command that a man
give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?'" What the
Pharisees asked was theoretically and rationally very right. But their
motivation was diabolic. When we look back to Moses' time, we find that
Moses' people were full of a slave mentality. What they wanted was to
work and eat, sleep and mate, and quarrel and divorce. These are the
main parts of slave people's life. Moses was a shepherd for six hundred
thousand people who used to live in Egypt. Most of their petitions and
complaints to Moses were about their wives. At that time women were
objects of pleasure to men, and the society was male-dominant. So many
Israelites did not like their wives and wanted to divorce. There were
too many divorce petitions. Moses could not deal with their divorce
problems. And if a man wanted to divorce his wife, he did as he pleased
and divorced her anyway because of their slave culture. Finally, Moses
permitted divorce on the condition that a man must give his wife a
certificate of divorce so that the divorced woman may have a chance to
marry another man. Moses permitted divorce on the condition that they
give the woman a certificate of divorce. It was to protect women from
misery. At that time, to be born a woman was a tragedy, even if she was
Look at verse 8. "Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce
your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from
the beginning.'" In this verse Jesus urged, "But it was not this way
from the beginning." When Jesus said this, Jesus was crying,
understanding the agony and sorrow of Moses in being a shepherd for
slave-like Israelites. Jesus continued in verse 9, "I tell you that
anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and
marries another woman commits adultery." This verse clearly nails down
that the motive of divorce is for the sake of adultery. When a man
divorces, he has many reasons to divorce his wife. When a woman
divorces her husband, she has mountain-like excuses. But Jesus tells
the truth about the motivation of divorce: It is to commit adultery.
Why are there so many divorces, even among senior citizens? According
to Jesus, it is in order to commit adultery. We pray, "May God
establish America as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This
prayer includes that the perverse and adulterous generation may be
gone, and that the kingdom of God come in the hearts of young and old
American people. We must pray with the prayer topic: "May God establish
America as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation," sometimes all
night, sometimes with fasting. Most importantly, we must pray
throughout our lifetimes. Whatever we do, it should be prayer itself.
Third, the disciples' surprise (10). Look at verse 10. "The disciples
said to him, 'If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it
is better not to marry.'" This verse shows that the disciples were
still very immature. They were not yet sanctified by the truth, and
most of them were not married yet because of their ambition in Jesus.
But they were indeed surprised by Jesus' lecture about a happy
marriage. They did not understand what Jesus said about a happy
marriage, but thought it was chaining together and enslavement of a
husband and a wife. This is the reason there are so many homosexuals
and lesbians. They think that if they marry, they would have to be
responsible for their spouses and children. But they want to satisfy
their physical desire, so they become homosexuals or lesbians. Human
freedom without Jesus misguides people not to be responsible for
something, even for their families. His disciples were so pessimistic
about marriage and said, "If this is the situation between a husband
and wife, it is better not to marry." There are so many immature people
who do not marry because they don't want to be responsible for their
wives or husbands. One man is almost a genius. But his smart mind made
him calculative. He really wanted to marry from the age of nineteen.
Now he is fifty, but he could not marry because he wanted to be free
from any responsibility. He soothes his sorry feeling through painting.
We should not be like the disciples who were surprised at Jesus'
lecture about a happy marriage. We must learn Jesus' secret about happy
marriage. We must learn before marriage how to be responsible persons
and how to make harmony between different characters and
personalities. We must learn before marriage the happiness of marriage
Fourth, the renouncement of marriage (11-12). Jesus understood the
disciples. So he said in verse 11, "Not everyone can accept this word,
but only those to whom it has been given." In other words, the secret
of a happy marriage is not understood by man's calculation, but comes
from God. Those who do not believe in God do not know the secret of a
happy marriage. Jesus also said in verse 12, "some are eunuchs," and,
some "have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven."
Usually people want to marry a beautiful woman or a handsome man.
That's the desire of ordinary people. But Jesus told them the truth
that some became eunuchs. They were not necessarily physical eunuchs,
but those who renounced marriage. Jesus is talking about many women who
renounced marriage. Until the seventeenth century in the British
Empire and in all the Catholic countries, if a family had two
daughters, one had to become a nun. The world is perverse and immoral.
It seems to be impossible. But it is possible when we pray, "May God
make this nation a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" to the end.
Fifth, a pure mind like children (13-15). When Jesus and his disciples
were talking about the happiness of marriage, children suddenly
surrounded them and made a lot of noise. Probably Andrew and Philip,
who had heavy marriage problems, rebuked them, "You children! Go away!
Go away!" Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not
hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (14).
He placed his hands on them, and he went on from there to Jerusalem.
Those who are enslaved by the divorce problem and those who are
paralyzed by the marriage problem cannot enter the kingdom of God. They
should be as pure as children.
In this passage we learned the happiness of marriage and its
principle, and at the same time, the motive of unhappy divorce. We must
know: What God has joined together, let man not separate. And Moses did
not give a certificate of divorce to a divorced woman for the sake of
divorce; it was to protect underprivileged and sorrowful women who were
divorced for no reason. May God bless us not to be like the Pharisees,
but to remember Jesus' teaching about a happy marriage. In order to
have a happy marriage, let's be as pure as children before marriage.