Red Letter Year: 5/6

Matthew 19:1-15

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.

Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

10 Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”

11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.


Try to look past all the teaching and propaganda you have been exposed to regarding marriage. The Pharisees here were trying to get Jesus involved in an ongoing argument they were having amongst themselves, with three prominent views (they ranged in how casually a man could get rid of his wife), but of course Jesus refuses to play their game and turns the discussion in the direction he is interested in. Remember that all divorces here were a man rejecting his wife, not the other way around. What Jesus shows he is interested in is protecting the poor, the weak, those with no legal or social standing. Like wives sent away by their husbands. Like children coming to see Jesus. These are the people God always care most about – the ones we care least about. Think about what caring for those without social capital means in our context with regard to marriage and childcare. Ask God to speak to you directly about this. You might be surprised what you’ll hear.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.