Sunday, May 12, 2019

Come Follow Me - Matthew 19–20; Mark 10; Luke 18

Come Follow Me - Matthew 19–20; Mark 10; Luke 18

Matthew 19

Marriage and Divorce

Ellicott's Commentary notes on divorce allowed by Moses:

The force of the answer lies (1) in emphasized substitution of “suffered” for “commanded.” The scribes of the school of Hillel had almost turned divorce into a duty, even when there was no ground for it but incompatibility of temper or other lesser fault, as if Deuteronomy 24:1 had enjoined the writing of divorcement in such cases. 
 In other words, some Pharisees viewed divorce as a rule, rather than an exception. It allowed men, who were bored with their current relationship to file divorce for any reason, including to marry someone younger and different. Sound familiar to how many people today deal with marriage today? Once they find their current marriage is an inconvenience, they take the quick way out. This ignored the teachings of Christ AND Moses that husbands should treat their wives with respect and kindness. Jesus noted that marriage from Adam on down to Abraham was a very sacred thing, and was to be avoided except in issues of adultery or abuse.

The Proclamation on the Family explicitly explains the importance of marriage and family in God's eternal plan. The roles of father and mother are clear. Fathers and mothers are equals that must lead their families with love unfeigned, patience, kindness and charity. Sadly, many marriages today are suffered because we do not give ourselves fully to Christ and spouse. Selfishness turns loving newlyweds into spiteful abusers. We have frequently heard the prophets warn us and call us to repentance for not accepting our personal responsibility to sacrifice our own selfishness to bless our homes and marriages.

That said, if you are in an abusive relationship, God allows for divorce in such a case. There is no sin in escaping danger, and seeking a new marriage that offers greater hope and joy of eternal blessings. Such decisions should be prayerfully considered, and not taken lightly, especially if children are involved.

Matthew 20

The Parable of the Laborers

In this parable, we see that the Lord calls upon more laborers every hour. As each works, the Lord continues hiring whom he needs. At the end of the day, paying the last first, those hired first anticipate receiving even more. All are paid the agreed upon wage. Why is this fair? Because God promised, "all that my Father hath shall be given unto him." (D&C 84:38)

This parable is especially important in LDS doctrine. In 1840, Elder Lorenzo Snow was preparing for a mission to England. He was listening to a member discourse on the parable of the laborers.

“While attentively listening to his explanation, the Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown me, and explains Father Smith’s dark saying to me at a blessing meeting in the Kirtland Temple, prior to my baptism. …
“As man now is, God once was:”
“As God now is, man may be.”
“I felt this to be a sacred communication, which I related to no one except my sister Eliza, until I reached England, when in a confidential private conversation with President Brigham Young, in Manchester, I related to him this extraordinary manifestation.” (Eliza R. Snow, pp. 46–47; italics added. Brigham Young was President of the Quorum of the Twelve at the time.)

 Joseph Smith later confirmed this revelation, though it technically is not LDS core doctrine. Why not? Because we do not know the details of what this means exactly. What does it mean for us to become like God? And what does it mean that God was once like us? Does this mean Jesus was once like us? Or does it refer to God, the Father? Or both? 

LDS believe in the couplet, yet we cannot go further than the couplet, because we do not have revealed details on what it means to be God, or (except for Jesus) what it means for God to be human.

God Hears our Petitions
Luke 18

The Unjust Judge and the Widow

The theme of this chapter, as relating to the lesson are regarding prayer and offering petition to God. Jesus has just discussed concepts regarding his Second Coming (Luke 17:20-37). He explains that there will be destruction for those who do not follow him with their whole heart. “Remember Lot’s wife” is a warning to those who would look back to their old existence, rather than keep their face focused forward on following the Savior. The last days would be like in the times of Noah, where some would claim to be the Savior in various locations, but we should not believe it, for Christ will come in glory. In the days of Noah, Enoch’s city was translated or raptured from the earth. As the Flood neared, the last of the righteous either died of old age, or were carried up to the heavenly city of Enoch. God prepared a refuge for the righteous (either in Enoch’s city or in the ark). However, everyone else lived each day as the last: eating, drinking and marrying in a form the seemed righteous, but was only a shadowy apostate version of Christ’s form of righteousness. These were left behind for destruction in the Flood. And in the last days, destruction awaits those who do not await the Lord.

It is in this instance that we compare the unjust judge to the wicked in the days of destruction. He is comparable to the wicked in the days of Noah, the last days before the 2nd Coming, or the days of Christ prior to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70AD. The judge spent his time eating, drinking and marrying in his apostate way that focused him away from God and towards material pleasures.

He was basically a circuit court judge, traveling from town to town, and only seeing those cases on his agenda. It usually required bribes to be placed on the docket. The widow had two strikes against her: she was a woman, and she had no money for a bribe. She doesn’t want any advantage in her case, she just wants to be heard and to receive proper justice.

Yet, even in his wickedness, he could not stand to listen constantly to the whining demands of the widow. He insisted that he cared not for the things of man or God, since he was a self-made man with no time for fools or deity. He denied the two great commandments: love God and man. Yet, he would grant her request just to get her out of his hair.

Jesus explained that God is righteous and just, and therefore eager to fulfill our righteous prayers in his time and way. He does not ignore the prayers and pleas of the widow, nor anyone else. Given this is tied to the 2nd Coming of Christ, we learn that we must not give up hope and faith, for God will deliver us from our enemies, giving us justice, at the last day (if not before).

The Pharisee and the Publican

Publicans are tax collectors. When the Romans desired taxes to be collected, they would contract out the work to publicans. The publican would add a fee on top of the tax for his work. Many publicans added stiff fees and penalties, some contrary to the Law of Moses. Publicans were often viewed as traitors to Judaism, the Law of Moses, and were despised by Jews in general.

Pharisees were among the main religious leaders of Jesus’ day. They closely followed the teachings of Moses. So strict was their interpretation of the Law, they built a wall of rules around the Torah (writings of Moses) to protect them from anyone looking for loop holes. Pharisaic laws prevented tying certain knots on the Sabbath, as well as anyone healing on that day. Jesus compared the two men.

Who is more righteous: the Pharisee who publicly prides himself in prayer of how he pays his tithes and offerings and does so many other wonderful things for the world to see? Or the publican, who quietly finds a corner of the room, and beats himself on the chest repenting for how wicked he has been?

“14 I tell you, this man (the publican) went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

The Blind Man

Not long afterward, along the road to Jericho, a blind man heard the noise of a crowd. When he asked what was happening, someone told him that Jesus was passing by. Here was the man’s chance to receive his sight. He began to cry out for the Lord to have mercy on him and heal him. Some tried to shush him, but as with the widow’s cries to the unjust judge, he only became louder. When Jesus heard his cries, he immediately went to the rescue. Asking what he could do for the man, the man begged for his sight and then received it.

“42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.”

Interestingly, we find that it is faith that saves. Had the man not believed in Jesus, he would not have received his eyesight. And without faith, we cannot be saved from hell through Christ’s atonement. Faith leads to repentance, and repentance is the necessary step towards this rescue. Then, the man’s life from here on out would determine what level of glory in salvation he would receive from Jesus. Celestial works receive celestial glory. Telestial works receive a telestial glory (D&C 76, 88).


Lorenzo Snow and the parable of the laborers:

Commentaries on Jesus and Divorce:
Family Proclamation:


seefilms said...

Had a quick question. First I really like this blog. Thanks for all the effort put into it.
Okay. You stated this: Jesus noted that marriage from Adam on down to Abraham was a very sacred thing, and was to be avoided except in issues of adultery or abuse.
The question I have is: When did Jesus say anything about abuse?
While I agree with you on that being grounds for divorce...I don't see anything in Matthew 19 or Mark 10 about abuse. Am I reading it wrong or is there something I'm not seeing?

rameumptom said...

You are correct that Jesus only noted infidelity as a reason for divorce by MEN. Women had different rules, and were often allowed to return to their families under Mosaic law for abuse, as well.

seefilms said...

Thanks for your response.
Okay. So my eyes are fine. Would you happen to have a specific reference for this? So I can back it up when I tell my class.

rameumptom said...

Lots of good info on OT marriage and divorce here:

seefilms said...

Thank you!