Mark 10 v 1 - 12

The end for Jesus was near. He was beginning to make His way towards Jerusalem, leaving Galilee and entering Judea. It was drawing close to denouement, a 'taking off of the boxing gloves' for both Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders'. The Pharisees were always looking to trick Him with serious questions, by which they hoped He would compromise His thinking and lose His authority. Their thought was that if no one believed in Him anymore He might disappear quietly as so many had done before. They even hoped that He might make Himself unpopular with Herod who was a divorcee. Divorce was a burning issue and there were varying teachings from senior Rabbis: one leading Rabbi had announced that a man could divorce his wife for something as small as burning the bread- ''for any reason'' was his pronouncement; others did not accept divorce for any action apart from adultery.

Jesus had already spoken about marriage during His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 v 31, 32). In theory the Jewish ideal of marriage was as high as it could be, but in practice the difficulty was that Jewish Law regarded women as not much greater than the table in one's house: she had no legal rights and the man could do with her as he pleased. Think of countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and you will have a reasonably accurate idea of how women were regarded legally in Ancient Israel. It was almost impossible for a woman to divorce her husband unless he became a leper, was a tanner by occupation or committed adultery with a virgin. Read Deuteronomy 24 v 1 to understand how things were for women. These words had been interpreted in such a liberal way that, by the time of Jesus, women were very hesitant about marrying because of their insecurity as wives. When Jesus spoke it was on an issue that was extremely important and threatened Jewish society with the way it was exploited. Jesus sought to support women with His words. He insisted that the loose sexual morality of His day must be mended. He recognised that it was essential for society that the home was a secure place for men and for women.

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