TUESDAY, AUGUST 4
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 19:11-30
Author: Jeremy Witt
Immediately following Jesus’ response to the Pharisee’s question on divorce, the religious elite responded by stating that “it is better not to marry” in verse 10. Jesus responded to them in verse 11 with some interesting statements. Notice that Jesus said, “only those to whom it has been given.” What does He mean by this?
Through the years many have theorized on the matter. Here is what we know. Jesus mentions eunuchs in verse twelve which had two applications in the New Testament. It was used to refer to an official in government such as in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch which Philip shared the Gospel within Acts 8. But it is also possible that the Acts 8 passage includes the other application as to a male who has had their testicles removed, damaged, or never born with them. In such as the latter cases, this was not done out of choice but circumstances. However, in the choice of having the testicles removed, the reasons why this would be done are rather limited. Some scholars believe this was done out of unnatural attractions (homosexuality for example) or a result of doing something sexual to someone, dwelling on or thinking about doing something, and/or the punishment for the crime. Some contemporary scholars believe that those with these unnatural desires chose this so that they would not sin and could live a life of faith and honor to God. Remember Jesus stating that if your eye causes you to sin, then pluck it out? Possibly these men did this quite literally. If true, Jesus recognized them and elevated them when no one else would. These possible explanations are certainly not something we learn in Sunday School or life groups!
The final possibility is that some people have no desire to get married such as what Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 7. God puts in some hearts the desire to remain single so that they may serve the LORD and not be distracted. The simple fact-of-the-matter is that singleness allows us to do some things easier as a single person than trying to get two to do them (married before kids) to serve. Our culture throughout American History has been pro-marriage (until recently) while looking down on singleness. The Bible addresses this in verse 12 and 1 Corinthians 7 as some are called to singleness for the “sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.” We must not miss this.
Ironically, Matthew places verses 13-15 immediately after the divorce question and singleness/eunuch statement. Also, we should note how Jesus responds to children by elevating them in a culture when they were typically ignored or overlooked. Once again, Jesus sees the “ignored, left-out, and forgotten” and elevates them. Jesus looked out for the wife which was so easily divorced in verses 1-9, and Jesus looked out to those who were called to singleness in verses 11-12 and chose to be faithful to the LORD God.
I bet you never imagined when you started this today that you would hear any of this from the Bible! It is an amazing thing how God’s Word speaks to us and applies to us over 2000 years after it happened!
These last verses in this chapter deal with the rich young ruler. The story is also found in Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30. Let’s review a couple of things that were common in Jewish culture. First, the rich were looked at as blessed by God. The poor were looked at as cursed by God. People believed that if you were rich, you were a good person. Does that sound familiar to today? Does that sound like some “preachers” of today? The prosperity gospel has been around for quite some time. Again, the Bible is a truly amazing “book” that speaks loudly to us today as it has done and will continue to do, for it is not like any other book in the history of the world.
Notice verse 16 and what it contains. What does the rich man show us that he believes that gets salvation or eternal life? It all comes down to what he does or his works/deeds/actions. This means that he believes that he can earn it. The world today who are religious believe this as well. Many within the walls of the Church believe this. How do base every relationship that we have today? It is based upon what we do or the other person does, isn’t it? Only in the relationship with the LORD God does God pursue us individually! Only in Christianity doe the “God” do the work. He sent Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life. He died in our place. He defeated sin and death. He rose from the grave. He sent us the Holy Spirit to help us individually and collectively. He promises to return for us. In no other faith, religion, cult, etc does God do all that!
It is all based on Him except for one thing that only the individual can do. What is that? Believe in Him (Jesus) by faith. Repent of our way (trying to earn it). Confess Him and follow Him. He has done the hard things. Our role in this is to admit what He has done, who He is, and to follow Him in faith. That seems so easy, and because of that, many people struggle to do this. The rich young ruler was such a person. It wasn’t about himself but was about God.
In verse 21, Jesus says something very specific to the man. “If you want to be PERFECT or COMPLETE.” That word in the original language means “completely whole.” We cannot do this on our own. Why is this? It is due to sin. Our sin makes us imperfect. Our sin makes us have a big hole inside of us. That hole keeps us being whole. It is all tied to our sin, and we are not capable of being perfect. Only can we be made this way by the LORD God by way of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
This is why we worship Him. This is why we praise Him. For what He has done, we can be made whole. Do you know this for yourself? Do your children know this? Do your grandchildren know this? Does your neighbor know this? This is what we must proclaim. This is why the Gospel is so important. This is our mandate given to us by God in Matthew 28:18-20 known as the Great Commission.