URC Daily Devotion 5th March

St Mark  10:1-12

 

Jesus left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.  Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’

He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’  They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’  But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you.  But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.”   “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,  and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.  He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her;  and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’

 

Reflection

 

This text has been used over the years to judge and condemn people. This would have been far from the purpose of the text when reported and then written (in fact in this text Jesus places equal value on men and women in relation to divorce, a radical teaching at that time). Jesus responds to the Pharisees’ question (that is posed to test him and show that he was moving from the ‘accepted’ teachings of the Jewish authorities). He responds in the context and society in which he lived and gives an ideal. He takes the words of Scripture and makes their interpretation beyond anything the Pharisees would have expected and so foils their attempts to catch him out.

This ideal is one of many things that Jesus teaches. Humankind committing to live faithfully together in marriage. There are ideals that apply to every area of our lives. Jesus teaches these for us to aim towards, knowing full well that humanity will fall short, will mess up and will fail to meet these ideals. And it is precisely because of this that Jesus so clearly speaks of God’s unconditional love and grace and mercy that is open to all of humankind despite our shortcomings.

And it is that love and grace and mercy we should be living and sharing, not the judgement and condemnation. We will mess up, but what Jesus calls us to is to do our best, to find hope in the darkness and to live the love of God with those alongside whom we journey, each and every day.

 

 

Prayer

 

God of love, you have given us Scripture and words and teachings that challenge and confuse. You have given us Jesus to bring understanding and enlightenment our way. So often we take these words and teachings and use them to hurt and harm and judge and demean. Help us to shift our focus on to being affirming and building up others rather than being the ones to condemn. In love there is a greater hope and it is this hope that humanity needs. We know we will fall short, mess up and fail, but we hold onto your promise brought in Jesus that even when that happens, we are loved. Help us to know this and to share this more fully- with those we know and love and those we struggle to love. Amen.

Today’s Writer

 

The Rev’d Jenny Mills is the minister of Newport Pagnell URC & West End United Church, Wolverton.

Bible Version

 

 

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.