Mark 10:2-16 (NRSV)
Verse 2Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" Verse 3He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" Verse 4They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." Verse 5But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. Verse 6But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' Verse 7'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, Verse 8and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Verse 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
Verse 10Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. Verse 11He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; Verse 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
Verse 13People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. Verse 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Verse 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." Verse 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Divorce is a part of our world. Its reality reminds us that we are broken. Promises are made. Promises are not upheld. Relationships are broken.
Over the years I have watched relationships fall apart, seen the hurting individuals, the troubled friends, and devastated families. Often those who divorce stop coming to worship due to embarrassment, guilt, or shame. As a result, the divorced often find themselves missing the blessings of the faithful community. Yet, some dare to return to worship. In the best of Christian reality, they experience the forgiveness of being welcomed back into the family of the faithful. In the best of God’s people, I have even witnessed both of the divorced persons worshipping in the same sanctuary at the same time.
In today’s text, the “testers” are challenging Jesus, trying to see how “orthodox” he is. He takes them beyond their laws to the full reality of brokenness. And then at the end of the reading, we are reminded that Jesus is concerned above all about love, as he reaches out and embraces the most needy, and they are blessed.
God of Wholeness, you made us for wholeness. We are too often broken. Restore us in your love. Amen.