Last week we approached the dialogue on divorce and remarriage in Mark chapter 10 by noting that the key issue at stake in the consideration of this very question was human sin, blindness, deafness, and hardness of heart. The Pharisees come bringing this question to Jesus not because they are particularly interested in his response but because they are testing him. They want to vindicate themselves as the spokesmen for Israel, they want to undermine Jesus’ popularity, and so they choose an issue well suited to their task. Given the political, theological, and personal context in which Jesus ministered, this question of divorce and remarriage was well crafted to foment dissension. Not only was the political marriage of Herod and Herodias a hot button, not only were the debates over divorce and remarriage by the schools of Hillel and Shammai well publicized, but the personal feelings and passions of many of Jesus’ hearers and followers were engaged in this issue. And so we noted that the question the Pharisees ask on this occasion was a “parlous” question – a hazardous, risky, perilous question to answer.

As we approach the question, therefore, we need to be prepared to listen to what our Lord is teaching us. We too, just like the Pharisees, just like the disciples, can be so blinded by our passions, by our prejudices in this area of marriage, divorce, and remarriage that we fail to listen and give heed to the words of Christ. But now that Jesus is installed as King of Kings, it is this that we are called to do. We are called to listen to Him, to give heed to Him, to obey Him; for He is the Lord. None of this, however, is within us. In our own strength and power we are unable to hear, unable to see, unable to respond aright. And so we must be constantly beseeching the Lord to open our eyes and ears, to guard our hearts from becoming darkened, and to protect us from our own passions lest they lead us either to dishonor our Lord, as Peter did in denying Him, or even to betray our Lord, as Judas did in selling Him to His enemies.

As we come back to the text this morning to begin unpacking Jesus’ instruction on this occasion, therefore, I reiterate all that I said last week. Let us give heed to the Word and prepare to listen and implement what we are told. Today we learn what marriage is about, we learn about the covenant of companionship.