God's Design for Relationships 🧑‍🧑‍🧒‍🧒 (Matthew 19:1-12)
- 8 min read

God's Design for Relationships 🧑‍🧑‍🧒‍🧒 (Matthew 19:1-12)

On this page


When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick. Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

The Kingdom of God is at its best with its COMMUNITY IS FIGHTING FOR UNITY.

Overall Commentary: 🌎

Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Within a couple of month's time, the Cross, the Grave, and the Resurrection will have happened. While on His way, He takes time to heal people. His detractors also challenge him to join a long debate over a tricky verse in Scripture. Jesus challenges them not to focus on divorce but on the beauty of marriage. He is also sure not to leave out everyone else. This is, at first glance, a tricky challenge Scripture. The more we study it, the more beautiful it becomes.

The Church is a BEAUTIFUL MESS that fights to gracefully restore God's design for relationships with Grace and Truth.


Verse 1-2: The Journey.

  • Headed to Jerusalem: He has now left where He was and it slowly making His way to Jerusalem for Passover.
  • The Calm of the King: I love how Jesus slowly moves through the crowds. He is healing people and moving along. Jesus never seemed to be in too much of a hurry for anyone who wanted an audience with Him.

Verse 3-9: The Debate.

  • The Pharisees Challenge Him: The Pharisees are finished toying with Jesus. They invite Him into a massive debate that has divided their group. They also realize that it was controversy over divorce and remarriage that caused John the Baptist to be arrested. He was later executed while in prison. It is likely that they do not care about Jesus' wisdom. They are seeking the same fate for Him.
  • The challenge over Deuteronomy 24:1-4: The challenge they are referring to is a division in the Pharisees regarding divorce. All Pharisees agreed that divorce was permitted by the law of Moses. The challenge was what constituted a worthy offense.

One Group. The only offense worthy of declaring a divorce feasible was sexual immorality.

Second Group: The other group said pretty much anything the husband found reprehensible was included. They even counted if the wife burned the dinner or had eyebrows that were too bushy.

  • "Haven't you read?": Jesus quickly gets to the point and offends everyone. These men would have had to memorize most of the Torah to be a Pharisee. They certainly had read it! Jesus' point is that they overlooked God's Word for their tradition.

They are focusing on divorce. Jesus wants to focus on Marriage: Jesus doesn't go to the day's talking points or what is culturally debated. He goes back to the beginning and what God has set up.

Jesus establishes three reasons to honor marriage:

  1. God made it, and it is defined as one man and one woman for life. (verse 4)
  2. It is the creation of a new family. The words used in the text are heavy. The man is to "abandon" his previous family and "glue himself" to his wife to create something new. (verse 5)
  3. It is a covenant, not a contract. This was created not by man but by God. It was not as simple as writing a document. To dissolve this was the same as a death to God. (verse 6)

What Constitutes a Divorce?

  1. Adultery. Jesus answers the controversy of Deuteronomy. In the text, the debate was what was meant by "indecent behavior." Jesus is saying on the highest crime of violating the covenant of "oneness" would reach that level of destruction.
  2. Abandonment and Abuse. 1 Corinthians 7 says that a married couple that are not both believers should try to stay together. If the unbeliever refuses to stay, they can go. Then, the one remaining is free. I believe this can also refer to abuse. If there is an abuser, the victim must get away. If the abuser refuses to repent, the lasting absence is their fault, not the victim. They have been abandoned because of the sin of the abuser and are free. (LINKS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH BELOW.)

Verse 10-12: The Hope.

  • Overstating things: The disciples went too far. When they realized that marriage is such a big and beautiful thing, perhaps they didn't feel up to the tasks. Therefore, they seemed to think it was "EASIER" not to be married. Jesus gives beautiful dignity to those who do not marry as well. In the kingdom of God, there are no "less than" people or second-class citizens.
  • What is a eunuch by birth?: A man who has a birth defect that does not allow them to procreate children.
  • What is a eunuch by others?: In ancient kingdoms, men were only allowed to have certain places in society if they were castrated. Yikes.
  • What is a eunuch for the Kingdom of God?: These are people who have chosen to forego marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

The bottom line is that these people have dignity and value, too.

Top Takeaway- Complete Forgiveness

This is one of those passages that affect everyone because the topic of marriage and divorce affects everyone. Many of us have strong feelings about the word because of the massive wounds we carry. When I first read this passage, I saw the Pharisees trying to use a hot topic to discredit Jesus. As I continued to study, I started to see something beautiful. Jesus showed us how He saw the beauty of marriage. He sees relationships as a precious thing and something worth cherishing. He also shows that marriage isn't the only way to thrive in this life. Those who do not marry are not second-class citizens. He has a place for all in His kingdom.

Message Notes


Further Resources for Deeper Study

Specific Resources

Are there any valid reasons for divorce beyond what the Bible specifically identifies? | GotQuestions.org
Are there any valid reasons for divorce beyond what the Bible specifically identifies? Does the Bible give all the possible reasons for divorce?
What are biblical grounds for divorce? | GotQuestions.org
What are the biblical grounds for divorce? For what reasons can a person seek a divorce, biblically speaking?
Is abandonment or desertion a valid reason for divorce and remarriage? | GotQuestions.org
Is abandonment or desertion a valid reason for divorce and remarriage? If your spouse abandons you, are you biblically allowed to remarry?
Is physical abuse an acceptable reason for divorce? | GotQuestions.org
Is physical abuse an acceptable reason for divorce? Does an abused wife have to stay with her husband?
What Does the Bible Say About Divorce? – Grace Blog
What does the Bible say about divorce? This post outlines the biblical reasons for divorce and Bible verses on divorce.
Grounds for divorce
This question isn’t regarding anyone particular or close to me, as this topic typically is, I’m just trying to understand the teaching. Matt. 19:8-9 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to…
What Reasons Does the Bible Give for Divorce? - RealFaith
Read about four scenarios, or grounds, for a possible divorce according to the Bible.
What Are Biblical Reasons for Divorce?
Marriage is a sacred and serious union. But God loves the individual more than he loves the institution; the individual who was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) by the Lord Himself, in His image.