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Matthew 19:1-12 "The Celibacy of Jesus"
by Dan Ahlenius, pastor
Please open your Bibles to MATTHEW 19:1. Just like I told you last week we would be continuing our series combating the heresies of Dan Brown's Book, THE DA VINCI CODE, thus we will be considering whether or not Jesus Christ was truly single, or might He possibly have been married to Mary Magdalene? And as we get started this morning I want to show you a photocopy of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting entitled, THE LAST SUPPER, notice how feminine the Apostle John looks immediately to the left of Jesus. Dan Brown and others have tried to claim that this was really Mary Magdalene at the Last Supper because she was Jesus' wife. Therefore, in order to combat this heresy I would like for us to consider some of Jesus teachings on Marriage that the Apostle Matthew shares with us from his Gospel account.
Read Matthew 19:1-12
I. Some Pharisees Came to Trip Up Jesus (vs. 1-9)
A. Jesus Was Healing the Masses in Judea (vs. 1-2)
1) In verse 1, Matthew tells us that our context this morning consists in the fact that Jesus was traveling from Galilee in the North to Judea in the South.
2) And as He passed through each town He apparently was active in His healing ministry so that Large crowds followed Him according to verse 2.
3) Consequently, there must have been quite a stir with the news going out that Jesus the Miracle worker was in town.
4) The only problem with this kind of publicity and attention is that it also alerts your enemies of your location, therefore, the Pharisees conjure up a plan to try and negate Jesus' ministry of healing and teaching.
B. The Pharisees Lay the Trap (vs. 3-9)
1) In verse 3, these Pharisees and teachers of the Law came specifically to Jesus with the intention of testing Him, which means that they came to tempt Him to give an answer that would discredit Him as the dynamic and popular teacher/healer that He was.
2) Thus, they posed the question concerning what He thinks a lawful reason would be for a man to divorce a woman. 3) And they even qualify their question by wanting to know on what grounds a man should be able to divorce his wife.
4) Now, Jesus being fully human and fully divine, was well aware of their motives for asking this question, so He did the best thing and pointed them back to the very Words of God in GENESIS.
5) Therefore, He quotes from GENESIS 1 :27 AND 2:24, to remind these religious leaders that Marriage is a binding and cleaving between a man and a woman as they leave their respective families behind to start a new family as they are united meaning that they cleave, join closely, are glued, and cling to each other.
6) However, in verse 6, Jesus makes it crystal clear that He believes that it is God the Father has His hand on each marriage as it is He who joins them together; therefore, no man should ever presume to try and pry apart what God has put together.
7) Nevertheless, in verse 7, we read that the Pharisees did not get the answer they were looking for, so they tried a different angle and try to get Jesus to contradict the teachings of Moses given to him by God.
8) In a nutshell, they want to know what Jesus thought about a man divorcing his wife if he lived by the standard of the Mosaic Law.
9) Once again Jesus responds tactfully in verses 8-9, by declaring that Moses did not command that a man divorce his wife, rather he permitted them to do so because of the hardness and stubbornness of their hearts that refused to listen and obey all of God's commands and requirements for them.
10) Moreover, in verse 9, Jesus explains that the only permission for a man to divorce his wife was if she was unfaithful to her husband.
11) Now, it must be mentioned that Jesus is not speaking specifically of adultery because if we read in Deuteronomy 22:22, those who are caught in adultery would not be divorced on paper, they would be divorced permanently because the people were expected to purge the evil from Israel by stoning the sinful couple.
12) Rather, what Jesus is talking about here is probably more along the lines of a consistent, blatant, and willful abandonment of the marriage vows that one party of the marriage union has disregarded over and over again.
13) And it should also probably be said that one error or mistake in a marriage is not cause for a couple to file for a divorce.
14) However, Jesus also alerts us to another catch, being that if a man chooses to divorce his wife for unjust reasons and he decides to marry again then he would continue to remain in a lifestyle of sin.
15) Overall, Jesus has corrected the Pharisees false interpretation of how easy divorce should be, and instead He has raised the expectation that Marriage is a sacred, binding, and lifelong venture.
II. Jesus Teaches the Disciples About Singleness (vs. 10-12)
A. The Disciples Are Alarmed (v. 10)
1) Can you picture the disciples listening to Jesus' teaching and then a look of alarm is displayed on their faces?
2) The reason that the Disciples responded the way that they did was because they probably believed the teachings and standards set by the Rabbinical School of Hillel, that taught that a man could divorce his wife whenever and however he wanted to even if she burn a meal.
3) Well, Jesus came teaching that marriage was no small matter and that the marriage vows and union should be taken very seriously because it is God Himself who has joined the couple together.
4) Thus, the Disciples realized that if they are going to be true to their leader, Jesus Christ, then they would have to take whatever relationships that they were in much more seriously.
5) And seriously enough that they wondered whether or not a man should ever be married if he didn't have the safety parachute of divorcing his spouse if things didn't work out.
B. Jesus Teaches About Celibacy (vs. 11-12)
1) In verse 11, Jesus makes it clear that not everyone has been gifted by God with the ability to remain single.
2) Read 1 Corinthians 7:6-9, the Apostle Paul shares that God had gifted him with the ability to be celibate, but if he or others ever burn with passion for a relationship with someone of the opposite sex it would be better to get married rather living in the sin of LUST AND DESIRE.
3) Back to Matthew 19:12, Jesus explains here the three kinds of eunuchs.
a) Some are born without the ability to reproduce.
b) Some are emasculated by men, such as the eunuchs that attend royal women in the courtyards, or in harems.
c) And some have personally chosen to live like a eunuch so that they might focus wholeheartedly on the Kingdom of Heaven.
4) Read 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, whereby Paul teaches the believers in Corinth that a person unhindered by marriage can focus their undivided attention solely on the Lord God and His Kingdom work.
5) And as Jesus finished speaking in Matthew 19: 12, He said the person who can accept this challenge of celibacy should accept it, which is exactly how the Bible portrays Jesus Christ being single and celibate for the Kingdom of God.
III. Evidence Against Jesus Christ Being Married
A. No Woman is Named After Him
1) Read Luke 8: 1-3, this is the main passage that people point to claim that Jesus Christ was married, because for what other reason did these three women travel among a group of men?
2) Mary is called Mary of Magdalene, because she was from the town of Magdala.
3) However, unlike Joanna the wife of Cuza, Mary Magdalene is never referred to as the wife of Jesus.
4) Furthermore, Read John 19:26-27, and consider why Jesus was not verbally concerned about the welfare of Mary Magdalene when He was telling John to take care of His mother.
5) Also, when Mary saw the resurrected Jesus in John 20:14-17, she did call Him husband or darling, rather she called Him Raboni, or teacher.
B. Very Few of the Apostles Remained Single
1) Read 1 Corinthians 9:4-6, whereby the Apostle Paul noted some of his fellow workers who had wives.
2) However, Paul chose not to exercise his right to a wife because he was pretty much committed to the Lord's work.
3) Likewise, Jesus Christ was fully committed to preaching, teaching, and performing miracles so that He chose not to take a wife.
4) Jesus' singleness is important because there are some people out there who believe that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had children who moved to France and started the Royal Merovingian line, which is just plain absurd.
5) Nevertheless, Jesus never was married to a single, solitary woman while he live His some 33 years on this planet, however, that does not mean that Jesus will never get married.
6) Read Revelation 19:7-9, where we read that Jesus will be wed to His bride the Church of God.
7) Now, it must be said that this is probably one of the few areas of our humanity that Jesus Christ has never experienced and that is the close-knit bond between a wife and her husband.
Overall, Jesus spoke about marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman that is ordained and established by God Himself. Furthermore, it is strongly believed that Jesus Christ was celibate and never did participate in the simple physical pleasures of married life. However, that does not mean that marriage is bad, or sub-standard, rather it shows that He had His focus upon God and His planes for His life. Therefore, Mary Magdalene was simply a woman whom Jesus had exorcised some 7 demons from and out of gratitude she spent her time, energy, and finances taking care of Jesus and His twelve disciples. Consequently, the Bible's high expectations of Marriage are upheld in our passage this morning while the Lord expects us to be like Him holy and righteous with our undivided attention focused on God the Father.
(c) 2005 Message by Dan Ahlenius, pastor Lake Chelan Baptist Church, Chelan, WA. Dan is a graduate of William Carey College, B.A., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Master Divinity.
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