Then Jesus left that place and went into the region of Judea, beyond the Jordan. Again the crowds came to Him and He taught them, as was His custom.
counsels of prudence." He freely addresses the crowds that throng to his ministry, and confronts the attempts of his enemies to catch him in his words. This Divine abandonment is very noble and beautiful, and argues that he now clearly foresaw all that was to take place. There are two intentions in the reply of Jesus which it is necessary to distinguish, viz. that of defense, and that of teaching. His words are to be studied, therefore, as -
I. A MEASURE OF DEFENCE. That his questioners meant him mischief there can be no doubt. The word "tempting" is used for "trying," "proving," and that in an evil sense.
1. What, then, was the danger that lay in such a question? According to his reply they hoped:
(1) To discredit him with the respectable classes, and to found a charge against him of overturning the social and religious institutions of the land. It is the reproach and shame of nearly all "heresies" in religion that they sooner or later attempt to abolish the safeguards of society, and the time-honored customs of the social order. Marriage is a touchstone that betrays the inherent unrighteousness and impracticability of a large proportion of them. His enemies hoped on this point to array him against Moses.
(2) To discredit him with the common people. It was a vexed question at the time in the rival schools of Hillel and Shammai, the latter being stricter, the former laxer, in their view of the lawfulness of divorce. Probably convinced of their own view of the case, they relied upon easily confuting his arguments, and thereby "showing him up" as a pretender and imposter.
2. But in this twofold scheme they were defeated, Jesus making his interroggators themselves the declarers of the Law which he accepted and simply interpreted. He appeared, therefore, as a defender and not an assailant of the Law. And then he showed how deep the basis of obligation really was, and how much less strict the "precept" of Moses was than it might have been, and the cause of this.
II. A PERMANENT DOCTRINE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. The historical circumstances of the time when the precept was formulated were probably considered at greater length than could be represented in Mark's account, and the position justified that it was a compromise or provisional measure necessitated by "the hardness of heart" of the Jews the drawing up of a formal document being a check upon hasty and passionate ruptures of the marriage tie. He thus proved that moral obligation is deeper and more permanent than convention or external law. He next considered marriage as a law of nature anterior to the social sanction, which does not therefore create the institution, but ought only to recognize and enforce it. To this end he traces it to the original purpose of God in creation, quoting Genesis 1:27; and strengthening the inference from this by the positive command of Genesis 2:24, long anterior to the time of Moses. It is not for man to interfere with or modify an arrangement so manifestly Divine. The only ground upon which marriage can be set aside is therefore that of one or other party to the marriage bond having already broken it by sinful action, and thus destroyed it as an actual thing. The Law then simply steps in to defend the rights of the party who has been injured, setting that party free from further possibility of like injury. This transgression of the marriage bond which amounts to its annulment is not stated, but is clearly implied, viz. adultery. The Savior thereby proves his teaching in harmony with the teaching of nature and previous revelation. But the gospel which is proclaimed in his Name does more than this. It seeks to fit man for the highest social and religious duties, by purifying and strengthening his moral being. - M.
He taught them again.
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