Daily Devotion for February 11, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
To Help Others This Day
Heavenly Lord, I pray that this day, you will continue to bless me, that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those that are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those that are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know you intimately. I pray that others will find your strength, so that they can love and help one another. I pray for those who don’t believe, that they may find you.
And when this world closes in on me, let me remember the example of my Lord and Savior: to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. Remind me, nudge me, let me remember to find you when I’m feel like I'm pushed beyond my limits. In Christ's name, I come to you,
[Let me have words of encouragement for others.]
Prayer for Goodness
Lord, save me alike from foolish Pride or impious Discontent,
At anything thy wisdom has denied, or anything that goodness lent.
Teach me to feel another's woe, to right the fault I see:
That mercy I to others show, that mercy show to me.
Mean tho' I am, not wholly so, since quicken'd by thy breath;
O lead me whereso'er I go, thro' this day's life or death!
From Universal Prayer by Alexander Pope
As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
~ Groucho Marx
Matthew 19:1-9 (ESV)
Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Notes on the Scripture
Jesus' route, having diverted northeast into Samaria just long enough to save a single Gentile — an act that will have enormous significance after his ascension — has now turned southward towards Jerusalem.
The Pharisees are not investigating Christ so much as building a case against him. Matthew has already told us that they are plotting his death. (Matthew 12:14) So they are gathering evidence that the Sanhedrin can use to find him guilty of blasphemy. They do not want to learn: their only purpose is to draw him into contradicting Moses.
The general theme of his response echoes the Sermon on the Mount, especially Matthew 5. Jesus has not weakened the law, although he has changed the relationship we have to it, because we can no longer be justified by it. The law is not a route to salvation; we cannot be saved by leading good lives. (Galatians 2:16) Jesus teaches that we must take the love that underlies the law and burn it into our hearts.
It is critical to understand that Moses' law did not “allow” divorce in the sense that it extended to men the ability to rid themselves of unwanted wives. Rather, Mosaic law restrained divorce. Before the law, men might simply abandon their wives. The Mosaic law of divorce protected women whose husbands ceased to support them, requiring a man to give an abandoned wife an official divorce, so that she might hold property in her own name and remarry. If she had been a slave, the paper would also make her a free woman.
Jesus builds upon the law of Moses. Failure to love one's spouse violates the principle behind the Mosaic law of divorce, just as anger and hatred violate the principle behind the law against murder. (Matthew 5:21-26) To be saved, the listener learns, he must take the principles underlying the law of Moses into his heart.
Christianity is sometimes decried by secular feminists because of several teachings about gender roles, particularly regarding marriage and worship. But the New Testament is radically pro-female. Women are treated as human beings, not chattel, perhaps for the first time in history. Husbands are enjoined to love them as they love their own bodies. (Ephesians 5:25) And more importantly, salvation is not a gender issue. Our love for others, our humility and obedience, are signs of our love of Christ, and we look towards an eternal reward rather than bickering about roles and striving for pre-eminence during our short stay on this earth.
Paul will later expound upon and explain love and humility, most famously in his great teaching of 1 Corinthians 13; and the epistles of John and Peter will also reiterate the importance of love and the service of others as the central tenet of Christian life.