Speaker: Jerry Cisar
It’s hard for most Americans to feel the tension in the scenes described in Matthew 12:1-14. We arrive at these so-called Sabbath controversies aware of the Pharisees obsession with ridiculous Law-keeping. And it’s not hard to imagine the day when the NFL starts scheduling games at 10:00 on Sunday morning. For many Christians, the only question remaining would be whether or not it would be okay to just take football season off from church attendance. We have traveled a great distance from Matthew’s Sabbath controversies!
We might get closer to feeling the controversy, if we changed it up a little. Something like,
The new pastor of first-church arrives at a church meeting and a woman is brought before him whose husband is abusive. The deacon board says to him, “This woman wants to divorce her husband, but Jesus said, ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ Divorces are only permitted because of the hardness of people’s hearts. And the Scripture also says that God hates divorce. What do you say?”
Not having learned how to stay out of trouble, the new pastor says to the deacon board, “Have you not read where God says to Israel, ‘I divorce you.’ Accordingly, God does what God hates. Then he turns to the woman and says, “No, you really should divorce the man, and you will not be condemned for sin. Go in peace.”
What Jesus said about divorce was intended to protect women from the injustices they endured by husbands practicing serial polygamy. Yet it has been misapplied by some to actually harm women. Likewise, the Pharisees’ problem is not their desire to keep God’s Law, but how they applied it for purposes in direct contradiction to what God intended.