God’s Best

God’s Best: Mark 10:1-12
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday October 18, 2020

Have you ever watched a show that gives you a strange circumstance – where there is bad and worse, and you have to align to one?

Meaning there isn’t really a “good guy” like a western with a black hat and a white hat, rather you find yourself rooting for the good guy, but rather you align to the likable bad guy – you have their motivations and their back story; and for whatever reason your for them?

That frames up the realties of life fairly well.

And walks us into the kind of world of grey we create through our interactions together. God’s law revealed in the OT was a mirror –

Romans 3:20 (ESV)
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

James 1:23–25 (ESV)
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

We drift towards the world, the word is our anchor. We’ll see in today’s verses from Mark’s gospel an encounter between Jesus and opposition aligned to worldly accommodations in the name of God. We’ll be reminded to orient on God’s best, first.

Mark 10:1–12 (ESV)
Teaching About Divorce
1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.

Mark’s gospel in chapter 10 is picking up from the journey statement started in Mark 8:27 which started in Casearea Philippi, moved to Capernaum in 9:33, now is in the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan as Jesus moves closer to going up to Jerusalem.

Mark 8:27 (ESV)
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

Mark 9:33 (ESV)
Who Is the Greatest?
33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?”

2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

This is no an inquisitive ask; like opportunistically they were like, oh check it out – Jesus, you’ll know the answer to this. Rather there were two schools of thought by well recognized teachers of the law who differed on this issue they sought to drive a wedge between camps of people and get Jesus to align to the concept of divorce.

The two teachers differ on their reading of Deuteronomy 24:1

Deuteronomy 24:1 (ESV)

1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,

So here is what our tactician friends the Pharisees thought they’d done with Jesus. The two Rabbis are Hillil and Shammai these were teachers or rabbis who taught Mishnah and Talmud (oral law of Saini). Neither seeks God’s best, both seek a rule over deeper understanding of God, a framework over a relationship this approach doesn’t orient on God’s best, first.

These tacticians have set Hillel’s teaching at Jesus feet, Hillel generally tending to have more open understanding of law, this one on divorce is no different. He would teach, as an example that even if the wife burned dinner she could be divorced. In the Sermon the Mount, Jesus already taught a stricter view on divorce. They wanted to give a picture that Jesus teaching was in conflict with Mosaic law. If Jesus didn’t side with Hillel or Shammai (likley with Jesus, right) and give a strict interpretation (similar to his approach in the Sermon on the Mount) they could accuse him of being more strict and and of alignment with, Scripture.

They were not after God’s best, first – they made the wrong assumption that Gods plan was divorce, when in reality this wasn’t God’s original plan nor His best – as Jesus will show.

3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”
4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.”
5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.

How often do we look to the Word of God to excuse away our thoughts, deeds, and or actions. We look for a “proof text”. We look for a statute, treating the scriptures lie basic instruction before leaving earth and not like the word that Hebrews 4:12 says it is:

Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Jesus then takes them back to Genesis 1:27 and 2:24

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

Genesis 2:24 (ESV)
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Certainly something interesting happened here. They wanted to cause difficulty for Jesus. To either put him at conflict with the law, or in conflict with human teachings and in the middle of Jewish issues of the day – however, Jesus gave unique insight into God’s intentions for marriage.

God’s allowance for the hardness of their heart wasn’t God’s best. By His grace he gives us a way to function even outside of His best. however, Christian we can and should aim at God’s best, not His provisional OKness because we’re fallen. This is that tension I mentioned in going with the bad guy when there is no good guy; when we choose something OTHER than God’s best, you’re making that accommodation. God selected Samuel for a leader, but the people wanted a king, and so they God their earthly king(s) – have you ever read THAT book – wowzah. When we chose for God’s second best, there are always consequences…

I love my children. I warn them about decisions – I don’t always force those decisions. And so, sometimes they go a different way and they experience consequence. God in a since deals with us like this – he knows his best his good and perfect way; yet he allows us to live in our Harddned state by degrees, yet we’re free to orient on God’s best, first. To do so we need scripture to reveal God’s grace and goodness and draw us away from our own understandings which lead to death.

6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,
8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.
9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

“for the beginning of creation”. The mosaic law came after humans lived for a time on earth. God’s purpose and intent was that man and woman marry and be married for life. In a trusting God-glorifying marriage, this would be fine but human sin makes that difficult.

10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her,
12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Under the law adultery was a capital offense freeing the offended to remarriage as the marriage ended by death. However, they marriage could continue past adultery the two could stay together. Paul gives room for divorce in

1 Corinthians 7:10–11 (ESV)
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband
11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

If she departs (room for the second best) remain unmarried and be reconciled. In the same way I may have “room” for a 3rd rice crispy treat but it may not be “best”.

1 Corinthians 7:13–15 (ESV)
12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.

13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

Paul was talking to the church who’d be surviving in “the world”, mixing with gentiles and forging a way forward through sinful conditions – life in a world not centered on God’s best is covered in scar tissue – Paul plotted a way froward.

If two people are together and one becomes a believer (or unbeliever), there is freedom to move on.

These are the complexities that running away from God’s second best bring about. The desire to do something that isn’t God’s plan, to choose from black hat cowboys; how closely can I skirt God’s best and still be OK with God? We who believe should orient on God’s best, first.

What is our orientation was the choose God’s best, first?

In Ezra, the Isrealites were instructed not to intermarry with Pagans, the didn’t listen. And so in Ezra 10 there is mass divorce, does this mean divorce was a good plan, yes – and no; because of the hardness of our hearts all marriages in Adam have the tension of sin. God in His grace gives us ways out, but we should seek His best.

Are there areas in your life now where you have an opportunity to focus on God’s best? Will you see them? Do you know God’s character from scripture to discern what’s allowed from what’s best?

To the Christian who is married, even in your marriage you can have a hard heart and be cold towards your spouse dishonoring your flesh (two are one) and not following after God’s best while begrudgingly “staying married”.

The lesson here isn’t in how to get a biblical divorce, it’s in seeing that God’s best has secondary paths – often people take those paths and it can start to feel normal, like being “for” a bad guy, like Saul Goodman, or picking a king over God’s chosen leader, or divorcing for burned food following after Rabbi Hillil; Jesus took them back to the beginning – back to God’s purposes, and showed God’s best.

That’s what our eyes should be for, is God’s best in every situation. To do that, we need to read the Scripture – not the culture.

I was talking to our missionaries in Africa recently. They shared with me the revelation of synchronism in the church – in a Bible study someone asked, hey where in the Bible does it say that we can throw stones at a statue of Satan and have our sins forgiven. And maybe we scoff, but what do we believe that’s leaked in from culture and we don’t see it so clearly because it’s “normal” for us? Lack of familiarity with God’s word, allows the world to shape our view – we start following ourselves, and when we follow our selves we end up far from God, drifting towards our own understanding – death.

Rather, let’s align to God’s best first – and let’s know it from the word, not the world.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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