Mark: Rent Asunder

Sermon by Derek Thomas on April 10, 2005

Mark 10:1-12

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The Lord’s Day Evening

April 10, 2005

Mark 10:1-12

“Rent Asunder”

Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas

Please be seated. Before we look at the Scriptures
together this evening (and they will be from the tenth chapter of Mark’s
Gospel), let’s look to God in prayer. Let us pray.

Our gracious God and ever blessed Father, You
have bid us come to You in prayer to make our wants and needs known to You…as
though a telephone should ring in heaven and You should answer, and we would
remind You of things that from one point of view may appear as though You didn’t
know or had forgotten about; and yet, O Lord, we know full well that You know
all there is to know, and You know our needs and You know each one of our
situations. As we come tonight to this particular passage, we need Your help.
Come, Holy Spirit, and grant that the comfort of the Scriptures, the reassurance
of the covenantal promises of our God, the exhortations to persevere–all of
these might conform together so as to enable us to give You glory, to give You
praise. Open up Your word to us just now, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Now turn with me to the Gospel of Mark; and
as we’ve been studying this Gospel now for the best part of a year, we come this
evening to chapter ten. And there is, as you can see, somewhat of an awkward and
somewhat of a difficult transition as we come to the opening verses of chapter
ten, teaching about divorce.

There’s a change of scenery. Jesus now will move
down from the region of Galilee in the north and from now on in the Gospel of
Mark, His ministry will be in the south. It isn’t all that clear, the exact
course that He takes. The more likely route would be down on the eastern side
of the River Jordan to a point almost parallel with Jerusalem where Jericho
would be found, then to cross over into Judea. That would be the normal route to
take, avoiding the area known as the Samaritan District. The text isn’t all that
clear as to exactly how He moves down south.

And there’s a considerable issue here. The issue
is about divorce, about remarriage.
And the problem will arise in the text
that we have before us this evening in Mark’s Gospel, because there is no
exception here. There seems to be an outright prohibition of divorce.

Now, we know from other Gospels…Matthew, for
example, the nineteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (in fact, the very parallel
passage to this one, in the same location, the same context Jesus is speaking),
and He’s saying that there is an exception in the case of marital
unfaithfulness.

What are we to do with this particular passage as we
have it this evening? And as we look at it we need to remind ourselves that we
have a certain principle that operates, because we believe the whole Bible to be
the word of God: the infallible, inerrant word of God; that Scripture can’t
contradict Scripture; that all of Scripture comes from the mouth of God, and you
cannot, therefore, have one Scripture contradicting another Scripture. There has
to be some kind of explanation as to why it is that we don’t have an exception
here, and why it is in the parallel in Matthew that we do.

I have to admit some mixed feelings about coming to
this passage this evening. Oh, I wish I had a better text! I wish I had a more
gospel text! You notice we tried to sort of bring the gospel into hymns this
evening, and some of the great gospel-oriented hymns were sung by us this
evening to remind ourselves of the gospel–that the gospel also has hard things
for us, and this is going to be a hard thing.

I’ve been reading and studying this passage all
week. I’ve read…I can’t tell you how many commentaries. Some brought me to
more confusion than I had in the beginning. I won’t be able to resolve all of
your questions, and I certainly won’t be able to deal with all of your pastoral
considerations, and I’m very conscious of the fact that some of you are in a
context of great pain and great trial, and great difficulty. This would not be
the text that I would perhaps bring to you this evening.

And then again, perhaps it would be. I have to
trust this evening in the over-ruling guidance of the Holy Spirit, that He knows
what’s best for us as a congregation, and when the decision was made now over a
year ago to embark a course of study in the Gospel of Mark, well, the Holy
Spirit knew that on this particular evening this would be the passage. We must
hear Jesus here.

Now, this is not me speaking; it’s not Ligon
speaking; it’s not Billy speaking, or Brad or Jim, or Brister, or Bill Wymond,
or Joe Holland or anybody else. This is Jesus speaking here. And we know the
heart of Jesus, don’t we? We’ve just been singing of His great love for us in
the gospel; and, knowing the heart of Jesus, then, let’s give our attention now
to the reading of God’s word in Mark, chapter ten, and verses one through
twelve.

“Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea, and beyond
the Jordan. Crowds gathered around Him again, and according to His custom, He
once more began to teach them.

“Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing him, and began to question
Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said
to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to
write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ But Jesus said to them,
‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment, but from the
beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND
FEMALE. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO
SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What
therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’ And in the house the
disciples began questioning Him about this again. And He said to them, ‘Whoever
divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if
she herself divorces her husband and married another man, she is committing
adultery.’”

Thus far, God’s holy and inerrant word.

I was reminding you this morning of Thomas Cranmer.
And Thomas Cranmer is well known to us, of course, as the man who authored the
Liturgy of the Prayer Book, the Elizabethan prayer book of the Church of
England. It was readopted and reinstated in 1662, after the restoration of
Charles II. You’ll remember these words:

“Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife; to live together after God’s
ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her,
honor and keep her in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep
thee only to her so long as you both shall live?” And the man shall answer, “I
will.” Then the priest says to the woman [well, Calvin has some issues with the
word ‘priest’ in the Church of England Prayer Book, but we’ll pass that
by!]: “Wilt thou have this man to thy wedded husband; to live together after
God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony? Wilt thou obey him and serve
him; love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health; and forsaking all
others keep thee only unto him so long as you both shall live?” And the woman
shall answer, “I will.”

It’s a moment in a marriage ceremony where the
women–and not a few men–get a little emotional and tearful. I’ve seen not a few
men wipe surreptitiously a tear from their eyes, especially if it’s their
daughter who is being married. I will say no more!

It’s exquisitely beautiful. Who would not want those
particular words in a marriage ceremony? I can’t hear them without thinking of
a day in July of 1976, in what, as I now recall, was a rather cold summer in
Wales, when I repeated those words to Rosemary.

I’m going to do a “Ligon-esque” thing this evening!
And I have seven points! Now, I comfort and reassure myself in the knowledge
that seven is a perfect number in the Bible.

I. The first thing I want to say
is a question: “Where is the gospel in this passage?”

I wonder if you’re asking that question. I’m
asking that question. I’ve been asking that question all week. Why couldn’t I
have a passage with the gospel in it? You know, a passage that warms our hearts
as we think of the love of God in Jesus Christ: “O the deep, deep, love of
Jesus,” we sang. Well, it’s an important question. It’s a proper question.
It’s not improper to ask that question. We were thinking this morning about
Paul’s admonition to Timothy about rightly dividing the word of truth, and the
possibility that that expression ‘word of truth’ could actually refer to the
gospel. Where is the gospel in this passage?

Jesus came because of this issue. That’s where the
gospel is. You see, if there wasn’t sin in the world, there wouldn’t be divorce
in the world. There wouldn’t be the rending asunder of marriages if there wasn’t
sin in the world. If Adam and Eve hadn’t fallen in the Garden of Eden and begun
the culture of blame, one blaming the other–“the woman that Thou gavest to me,”
Adam said, casting the blame on his dear wife. If it hadn’t been for that, then
there wouldn’t be divorce in the world, and there wouldn’t have been the
necessity for Jesus to come into the world. Jesus wouldn’t have spoken these
very words. The fact that He’s here at all, the fact that He’s made this journey
into the world, into Galilee, down to Judea, across to the other side in the
region of the Trans-Jordan speaking to men and women, to the Pharisees, to
disciples in a certain house; the fact that He’s here at all says He’s come
because of sin.

The gospel is because of sin: “God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Yes, I know that this is a dark and difficult
passage tonight. There’s no exception here. We’re going to have to deal with
that in a minute. It’s one of the reasons why Malachi at the close of the Old
Testament has God saying, “I hate divorce”: because God hates sin, and divorce
is here because of sin. If there hadn’t been sin, there wouldn’t be divorce. God
hates divorce. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for divorce in a
fallen world, but He still hates it. He hates it with a perfect hatred.

I know that some of you, as I do myself, want to
know about this exception: aren’t there exceptions to this issue? That’s not
where Jesus will begin. Jesus is in the world as a sin-bearer because of issues
like this.

II. Well, a second
question, and this question arises here because the Pharisees were trying to put
Jesus to the test.

They were testing Jesus. It’s important.
It’s important for us to understand, I think, the modality in which Jesus speaks
here, the kinds of things that He does here. He doesn’t go running off to the
exceptions. He wants to deal with marriage as it ought to be, as God intended
it to be; and we’ll see in a minute that the Pharisees had no concern about
that. All that they were concerned about was in testing Jesus. He might have
responded differently in a different context; if He’d been asked a different
question; if it hadn’t been the Pharisees who had been asking Him, but the
disciples who had been asking Him. The fact is that no matter what Jesus is
going to say here, these Pharisees are going to twist His words. They were
going to do what we were thinking about this morning–you know, about avoiding
these tiresome nitpickers.

Well, the Pharisees were tiresome nitpickers, and
that’s exactly what they’re doing here. They’re taking a text in the Old
Testament and they’re misinterpreting it, and they’re misapplying it, and
they’re not interested in godliness. They’re not interested in marriage. They’re
simply interested in trying to get Jesus to side with one party or another.

You know that section in Proverbs 26? It’s one of
those things that’s often raised, you know, as a problem in the Bible. You have
one verse in Proverbs 26 saying, “Answer a fool according to his folly”, and
then the very next verse says, “Don’t answer a fool according to his folly.”
And they sit there right beside each other, glaring in opposition to each
other. You know, there are times when you don’t give a fool what he’s asking
for, and there are times in context, too, when that’s precisely what you need to
do.

Jesus is, I think, discerning here that these
Pharisees were fools. And you don’t answer a fool according to his folly. In
fact, you answer a fool in a way that he isn’t actually asking the question. And
Jesus is, in fact, answering a very different question than the question that
the Pharisees are asking. Sometimes it’s best to answer the question that
should
have been asked. You know, those looking for loopholes–and I wonder
if that’s perhaps where we are tonight? I have to confess, that’s been where
I’ve been for most of this week: looking for loopholes, looking for a way out of
the difficulty of this passage; conscious of some of you…sensitive, hurting,
in pain; not wanting to make it more difficult for you, looking for the
loophole. And you know, if Jesus had begun with the loopholes, you know what we
would have done: we would have driven an eighteen-wheeler through it and made it
even bigger.

III. A third point: and
that is to say that the point of issue here is the interpretation of a certain
passage in Deuteronomy.

The passage is in Deuteronomy 24. If you
have your Bibles, I’d urge you to take it out. We’re going to look at it for a
few minutes: Deuteronomy 24, and the opening four verses. This is the passage
that the Pharisees raise:

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that 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
from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s
wife, if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of
divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and if the
latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who
sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has
been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not
bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.”

Now let’s note a few things about this passage.
First of all, it’s given from a male point of view, and that’s because Jewish
law did not recognize the right of a woman to initiate a divorce. But Roman
law–that is, the law in operation at the time when Mark is writing the
Gospel–did so allow, and possibly Mark is actually reflecting that in the way
that he tells the story.

Note also that what this piece of legislation was
designed to do was not to mandate divorce. It neither requires divorce nor
recommends divorce, nor even sanctions divorce. Its primary aim was not
about divorce at all, nor about bills of divorce; but to prevent a man from
remarrying a woman he had previously divorced.
It’s thought that the reason
this law was given was to protect women from abusive, compulsive husbands.

Note the way in which it is framed. Those of you who
have an eye to grammar, it’s particularly important here…all the “if” clauses
in the beginning of the section, and then followed by the word “then.” All you
grammarians will know the apodosis and protasis– protasis, apodosis. (If you
don’t know what that is, don’t worry; but you should have learnt it in grammar
when you were in school!) It’s the kind of sentence that begins with an “if”
and is followed by a “then”: If such and such and such and such happens,
then this is what follows. The text isn’t actually condoning the “if”
things that happen; they happen, that’s the reality of it. It’s not saying yea
or nay about the morals or the ethics behind it, but if that happens, then this
is what follows.

The whole design of that passage is simply to forbid
the remarriage by a man of a woman that he has formerly divorced, and the
Pharisees’ use of this text is completely wrong. They’re misinterpreting the
passage. I think that goes a long way in understanding why Jesus answers the way
that He does.

IV. Number four, there are
two parties of Pharisees in the background here, and it’s very important for us
to understand that.

A division had existed amongst the Pharisees, and it
had existed for some time prior to Jesus’ coming into the world in Palestine,
and it was led by two rabbis. One was called Rabbi Shemei, and the other was
called Rabbi Hillel.

Rabbi Shemei represented the strict party, the
strict interpretation of the passage. Rabbi Hillel, as you might imagine,
represented the liberal. The issue is: What do the words “found some indecency
in her” refer to? Shemei, the strict party, said it refers to something sexual
(not necessarily adultery, because adultery, at least in theory, was punishable
by death, although it was hardly ever enacted). That’s what Shemei says:
something sexual that violates the marriage bond.

Hillel, the liberal party, suggested no, it means
something much less than that. They took into cognizance that in verse 3 we read
“…he turns against her or dislikes her,” so they said, well, you know, if she
puts too much salt in the soup, or she burns the ravioli, or she just gets
quarrelsome, or even if he sees somebody that he prefers more than her, then
divorce was allowed. That’s what the liberal wing of the Pharisees, the Hillel
party, said.

And you see what’s happening here. These Pharisees
are coming to Jesus and they’re saying, ‘Which side are You on here? Are You on
the strict side or the liberal side?’ and you might have thought that Jesus
would say, ‘I’m on the strict side,’ because He was. But He doesn’t say that,
because there were things about this strict side that Jesus definitely was not
for, and He didn’t want to side with one party or another. You see, they’re not
interested in the truth. They’re not interested in godliness. They’re not
interested in marriage as such. They’re simply interested in trying to trip
Jesus up.

Now, here’s the problem: Jesus’ response makes no
mention of divorce at all, and He calls divorce followed by remarriage
‘adultery.’ Now, let’s look at the passage in Deuteronomy again. Let’s remind
ourselves it’s not sanctioning divorce, and it’s not sanctioning remarriage
either, but simply saying that a man who has divorced his wife cannot thereafter
remarry her again.

But it seems to be saying…it seems to be saying he
is allowed to remarry, it’s just that he cannot remarry the woman that he’s
previously divorced. Otherwise the text would say quite simply he cannot
remarry at all, and the text doesn’t actually say that. So Jesus is at least
here opening up the way, even though He doesn’t say it, but He is at least
sanctioning the propriety of remarriage. The text in Deuteronomy 24 suggests
that that is the case.

Now it can hardly be stronger, Jesus says. He now
goes aside. He goes into a house. We don’t know whose house it is, and He
speaks to the disciples. Probably the Pharisees are no longer there, but even
the disciples need to hear this hard thing. They perhaps have been influenced by
these Pharisees–maybe they’re confused themselves–and Jesus says this hard
thing.

The problem is that elsewhere in the parallel
accounts to this account, in Matthew 19 we read that there is an exception:
“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife except for immorality [other
translations render that as marital unfaithfulness] and marries another woman,
commits adultery.”

Well, there’s the problem. One says if you divorce
and remarry, you commit adultery. The other says if you divorce other than on
the ground of marital unfaithfulness and remarry, you commit adultery. One
allows for an exception; the other does not. (And we haven’t even mentioned the
issue of First Corinthians 7, and the words of Paul about willful desertion.
We’ll leave that entirely out of it for now.)

Well, doesn’t that show that the Bible is full of
contradictions? You know, people say…who don’t know the Bible terribly well,
and their first acquaintance with it…and some people who have a lot of
prejudice about Christianity and fundamentalist Christianity and Bible-believing
Christianity and so on…and they say, ‘Well, there’s an example of why we don’t
believe Christianity. You know, that’s the reason why we’re not evangelical.
There’s the reason why I can’t trust the Bible. It’s full of contradictions.
It’s always contradicting [itself].’ And people take that and they exaggerate
the case.

Well, there is a problem. I don’t deny that there’s
a problem here. Actually, the problem is much bigger than that, because Matthew
is giving us a parallel version to Mark, and it’s not whether Jesus said
there was an exception. Obviously He did, because Matthew records it. Mark
omits it.

The issue is, why did Mark omit the exception? Why
did Matthew include the exception? Which came first: Mark or Matthew? Was Mark
aware that Matthew had been written? Probably not, but let’s ask the question
anyway: Was Mark aware that Matthew had been written and contained that
exception?

Oh, the problem is much bigger than you think.
Perhaps the question then is why did Mark leave the exception out? I don’t
know. I don’t know. I can give you my theory on it. I can tell you where you
can read forty or fifty pages in small print of theory, none of it terribly
convincing. I don’t know. I do know that Mark is writing to a Gentile audience
and Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience, and maybe Mark thought this Gentile
audience that he’s writing to didn’t need to know now about the exceptions, not
at least in a hurry, because of the use that they might make of those
exceptions. Maybe.

V. Jesus goes back to Genesis.

He goes back to Genesis. He begins at the
beginning. He goes right back to square one. He goes back to the Garden of
Eden. That’s where you start. Actually, that’s always where you start. You
start as things are meant to be; not as they are, but as they’re meant to be.
Let’s start there.

What did God intend for marriage? Yes, there are
problems. Yes, there’s sin. Yes, there’s the Fall. Yes, there is divorce.
Yes, there is remarriage. But what were God’s intentions from the beginning?
Let’s start there.

You know, when I fly (and I fly a fair amount), I
always choose the exit seat. It’s wonderful these days, because you can do it
online. You know, you can go to the internet and you can pick what seat you
want, and I always go for that exit seat. And every time I sit in the exit seat,
this lady (or sometimes it’s a man) will come up to me, and you know, they’ll
say the same thing: ‘Are you comfortable sitting in the exit seat? And you know
if the plane is going down, pull this door…well, I presume you wait till it
lands first!…and you pull this door, pull it in, and make sure now that
there’s room here in the aisle, and put your things underneath the chair’ and so
on….I want to say to her, “Listen, if we’re going down, you know…this vest
and the whistle and the little light, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s over. It’s
curtains. It’s heaven!”

I don’t sit in the exit seat because I’m paranoid
about flying and I think that if I sit next to the exit seat maybe I can get out
first–hey, if that plane is going down, it’s over! I sit in the exit seat
because there’s more room for these big legs. It’s as simple as that. You
know, I don’t think…I mean, how many of you listen to all that paraphernalia?
You know, the oxygen coming down, and there’s a whistle here…you’re in the
sea! You’re in the ocean, and all you have is a whistle? Who’s going to listen
to that?

Jesus goes back to the beginning. You know, if
you’re always looking for the exceptions, if you’re always looking for trouble,
then you’ll inevitably end up with difficulty. Jesus goes back to Genesis 1:27
and chapter 2:4: The great Creator “made them male and female” and “for that
reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and
they shall be one flesh”. And then Jesus adds His own words: “What God has
joined together, let no man rend asunder.”

Do you see the psychology of what He’s doing?
Instead of asking ‘What will God allow me to get away with in the matter of this
divorce and remarriage thing?’ we ought to be asking, ‘What does God desire of
me as one of His creatures?’

You know, if you begin a marriage focusing on the
exit strategy, I’m not surprised if it doesn’t work. I’m not surprised if it
doesn’t work. The Pharisees are not asking what did God intend marriage to be,
or how can we restore a broken relationship which brings such agony into
marriage? When can we allow people to get a divorce, is their question. And
Jesus is saying, ‘Look, you’re looking at this from the wrong end.’

VI. Six: Jesus declares the
Mosaic provisions a concession due to sin.

Yes, there is a concession in the Mosaic
legislation. We’ve seen it in Deuteronomy 24. It’s there because of sin. God
allows it. It wasn’t part of His perfect plan from the beginning, but He allows
it. Divorce is never commanded; it’s permitted because God can see the
sinfulness of our hearts and the sinfulness of those who have done us wrong, and
we find ourselves the innocent victim in a broken relationship.

Divorce is always a tragedy. It’s always a
tragedy. It always is painful. It’s almost impossible to rein in those
emotions when you pass through something like this.

When we were watching the royal wedding–well, I have
to say, I didn’t watch it, but some of you Anglophiles I’m sure were watching
with some titillation, perhaps, the royal wedding. And I’m sure most of you who
saw the royal wedding were thinking of the original wedding, the fairy tale
wedding with the Princess in all of her splendor, and how sin had ruined that
relationship.

Taking the exception out of it for a minute, Jesus
is saying here a very hard thing. This is a very hard statement. It tells us
how very seriously Jesus viewed the whole issue of marriage, and you and I need
to view it that way. It’s a very serious thing. It’s a very serious thing.
It’s all too possible to think that just because, you know, our marriage is
still together–mine is 29 years now–it’s still together. I could make a great
deal of that. But you know because I’m human, as your marriage is, and some of
you have 50, 60 years of marriage, but there’s sin in every marriage. There’s
temptation in every marriage. There are difficult spots in every marriage.
There are hills of difficulty in every marriage. And Jesus is saying to us
‘Remember what God wants from you as a godly husband and a godly wife. This is
how marriage was meant to be.’

VII. There’s a fundamental reason
why divorce is wrong in the ideal: because marriage reflects the union we have
with God.

“They shall be one flesh….” That’s what Jesus
quotes. He goes back to Genesis, and He quotes that passage: “They shall be one
flesh.”

Now when we think of that expression, we probably
think of the physical intimacy that is associated with that idea in marriage,
but it’s more than that. It’s much more than that. John Stott (who, by the
way, is single)…John Stott says “…it’s a kind of …not ‘union’, but it’s a
kind of ‘reunion’. She’s taken out of man, bone of my bone, and so on; and now
they are together again. It’s a blending of personalities in such a way that
together they are more than the sum of the individual parts.” Isn’t that
beautiful? It’s a reunion.

That’s what Paul means, I think, in First
Corinthians 11, in a passage that’s as difficult as this one. In fact, it’s
more difficult. It’s about, you know, the head covering. And he says, “The
woman is the glory of man.” Now, don’t be offended by that. The woman is the
glory of man. He means that the woman makes a man appear better than he
otherwise would be. (Boy, isn’t that true! Thank God for our wives, or where
would we be?) You know, we joke about it, talk about our ‘better
halves’…well, actually they are our better halves, because without her, man is
lacking in some measure of glory.

Instead of that, what happens? Adam blames Eve.
You know, that’s what happens in the Garden of Eden. It’s the seed. It’s the
seed of all rottenness in marriages. You know, “the woman that You gave
me…it’s her fault. Actually, it’s Your fault for giving me this woman.” It’s
the culture of blame that comes on the heels of the fall.

Well, I wonder what you’re
thinking tonight. Does Jesus allow exceptions?
Yes, He does. Matthew 19 tells us that.
Our Westminster
Confession
summarizes the two exceptions: marital unfaithfulness and willful
desertion, from First Corinthians 7. Yes. That’s the whole teaching of the
Bible. But here, Jesus wants them to focus on the ideal, on how it ought to be.
And speaking of divorce and remarriage as the Pharisees themselves were speaking
about it, Jesus is simply saying, ‘It’s wrong. You know, your idea of it is
entirely wrong.’

I wonder what you’re thinking. You know, we have so
little time, you and I, in this world, and we must always view marriage from the
point of view of the Bible. Marriage is a wonderful thing. It’s a great
adventure. It presents opportunities for self-fulfillment, of discovering
ourselves, and, more importantly, of discovering the Lord and His ways in a way
that is without parallel in any other societal relationship that you can think
of.

Let’s pray for each other. You know that’s what we
owe each other as the people of God, as the body of Christ: to pray for one
another–for those who are hurting (and there are some who are hurting tonight,
those whose marriages are in difficulty). Let’s pray for our brothers and
sisters, that their marriages and our marriages might reflect the glory of God.
Let’s pray together.

Our Father, as we have traveled down a difficult
path this evening, and a hard word, give us grace to hear it, to keep it within
our hearts. And grant us the strength of Your Spirit now so to walk in Your ways
and to fear Your name, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Please stand; receive the Lord’s benediction.

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.

Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permission information, please visit the First Presbyterian Church Copyright, Reproduction & Permission statement.