For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. — Mark 10:7-8
My parents were married for twenty-seven years before the death of my father due to cancer. Sometime after my father’s passing, I reflected upon several of the incidents my mother had shared about their marriage and what had made it successful. There were many stories emphasizing how, during the early years of their marriage, they had learned to communicate effectively. Early on, they embraced the challenge of building their own home and staying out of debt. There was also teamwork necessary to successfully navigate raising children. I remember my sister and me occasionally being whisked off to Grandma’s house for an evening, so my parents could ensure that some romance stayed in their marriage even though they had children. All of these accounts were positive actions, which I now realize helped my parents’ marriage to endure. Yet one other event stands out above all the rest.
My mother took care of my father at home during his last few months of life. By that time, my father was in a hospital bed and spent much time sleeping. One time, when I was visiting, my mother mentioned that each evening when it was time for bed, she would go into the bedroom and lower the hospital bed to the same level as her bed, which had recently been moved into his room. She would then roll the two beds together and lower the railing on the hospital bed. That routine was repeated until the night my father died. This was not the romance of courtship or the passion of newlyweds, for the cancer had robbed them of that. There was no longer much verbal communication because of the nature of the illness that was consuming my father. But there was something, not seen or noticed at first, beyond all of that. An amazing bond had been formed because of the commitment they made on their wedding day and the nearly ten thousand days that followed. Just as Jesus quoted, “They twain shall be one flesh,” so my parents became one, and they continued to nurture that bond until the end. Their initial commitment became a continuing commitment.
A few years after my father’s passing, my wife and I reminisced about the commitment and investment that both of our parents had made to assure the permanence of their marriages. We rejoiced at the examples which were lived out before us. We continue to rejoice that God is still able to make “two into one” in a world that seems to value such commitment less and less each day.
If you are married, make the commitment that by God’s grace and power you will be “one flesh.” Then continue to preserve and protect that bond every day.
Chapter 10 begins with Jesus leaving Capernaum in Galilee and heading toward Jerusalem in Judea. While other Gospel writers mentioned several trips south, Mark mentioned only this one following the early trip south for Jesus’ baptism by John. His route went through the Trans-Jordan area east of Jerusalem, which was under the rule of Herod Antipas. A partial explanation of why the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce might be John the Baptist’s speaking boldly before his own execution about Herod’s adulterous marriage to his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias (Mark 6:14-29). When the Pharisees brought up the issue, they were trying to trap Jesus in the controversy and somehow discredit or destroy His influence.
In Jesus’ day, there were two conflicting views concerning divorce, based on the two prevalent rabbinical interpretations of Deuteronomy 24:1-4. These views were named for the leaders of the two rabbinical schools which espoused the differing views. Rabbi Hillel was quite lenient, allowing divorce for virtually any reason. Rabbi Shimmai was more strict, teaching that the phrase “some uncleanness,” which was justification for divorce, referred only to premarital sin.
Because Jesus was asked, He had an opportunity to sanction either of these two views. Instead, He focused on the permanence of marriage, noting that remarriage after divorce is adultery. Jesus appealed to a Higher Authority than Moses the lawgiver; He appealed to the God of creation and His original design for marriage, reinstating it over Moses’ exception.
Verses 1-12 concern the permanence of marriage and can be summarized by the phrase, “And they twain shall be one flesh.” Not so simply explained, the principle of marriage can be expressed by two (a man and woman) becoming one. While the Pharisees’ question was about divorce, Jesus’ response regarded the permanence of marriage. The Pharisees sought to tempt Jesus, but He took it as an opportunity to teach the truth that marriages must be preserved, guarded, and cherished.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. The instructions of the Son of God
J. Instructions concerning divorce (10:1-12)
1. The setting (10:1-2)
2. The reason for divorce (10:3-5)
3. The original design of marriage (10:6-9)
4. The result of divorce (10:10-12)
It has been said that marriage is like a triangle, with God at the top, and the husband and the wife at each of the other points. As the husband and wife draw closer to God, they automatically draw closer to each other.