What God Had Joined Together

Interrupting the flow of Mark’s gospel, Jesus travels into the crowd and the Pharisees immediately challenge Jesus in an effort to trap him. The test came over the issue of divorce and remarriage. If the Pharisees could get Jesus on record saying that divorce was wrong, they could convince Herod Antipas to arrest him just as he arrested John the Baptist. If Jesus would go on record saying divorce was OK and give a wrong reason for it, then the Jewish people would know He was a traitor because Moses did not give the grounds for divorce in such a way as to satisfy the crowd. At the time, two major camps of thought existed among the Pharisees; the rabbinical schools of Hillel and Shammai. Neither school denied the legitimacy of divorce they only argued about the grounds for divorce. Shammai was more conservative and only allowed divorce for adultery. Hillel was more liberal and allowed for anything that displeased a man up to and including a burnt dinner. Mark’s readers would want to know what Jesus teaches about this because divorce was frequent and easy in Rome. Divorce continues to be a reality for those inside and outside the Kingdom of God. Jesus reminds us of God’s ideal and challenges us to focus more on that than looking for an opportunity to divide what God has joined together.