Welcome to Thursday’s Foundation Podcast.
This week, Jesus has been teaching his disciples about the life in the kingdom of God. Over the past couple of days, we’ve considered Jesus teaching on Sin and Forgiveness. In today’s reading, we see Jesus teaching about Divorce – another big, difficult topic. Each of these big areas considers how we relate to one another, but fundamentally it all stems back to how we relate to God.
We see in today’s passage Jesus teaching about marriage. And we know that marriage is a gift God gives his creation in which two people are united – becoming ‘one flesh’.. It’s a very special form of relationship. Marriage, as we see Jesus teaching his disciples, isn’t something every person enters into. However, we are all created for a relationship that has an even deeper and closer connection than that of a married couple. We are all designed to be in relationship with God. We are created to experience connection, intimacy and closeness with Him.
What sort of relationship are we to have with God? What does that look like?
Jesus said (reading from verse 13) “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
How are we to relate to God? How do we live the kingdom life? We are to be like little children, Jesus says. Why?
I am so blessed to have two wonderful kids – Naomi (who’s nearly 3) and Isaac (who’s 9 months). In being a father, I guess I’ve developed a deeper understanding of what Jesus means here when he says that we are to come to him as little children. Little children depend on their parents for everything – for food (and boy does Isaac enjoy his food), for comfort, for protection, for instruction, for reassurance, for intimacy and for love. There’s a complete acceptance on their part that they can’t sort it out themselves – although the older Naomi gets the more she tries to strive for independence. And actually independence is a good thing – we want our kids to be able to function without us doing everything for them as they grow up.
The problem is that as we get older we carry that mindset of ‘I have to sort everything’ and wear it as if it were a badge of honour. Of course, there are some things we can’t sort out ourselves. Some situations that aren’t as straightforward to solve as learning how to switch on our favourite channel (that’s Naomi’s latest trick).
How is life in the kingdom different? We take off our independence badge of honour and humble ourselves before God. We come to him as little children – totally dependent upon our heavenly father for provision, for protection so that we would know God’s peace in our lives. And it’s in those moments that we discover, as in a way Naomi and Isaac discover, that we have a father who loves us, who bends to bless us, who is interested in us, who cares for us – who cares so much they would suffer so that we might experience a better life.
Life in the kingdom of God is one of humility. Of recognising we can’t sort it all out ourselves and coming to Him as loving and perfect Father, receiving his unending grace and knowing his faithful presence.
These passages – difficult as they are – sin, forgiveness, divorce – are all in a way a reflection of the fact that we don’t always get it right when it comes to managing human relationships. In turn these end up damaging our relationship with God.
How can we live differently? How can we allow God to shape us more into the people he created us to be? By humbling ourselves and becoming little children. And as we discover this we become better at loving and preferring others in our human relationships. As we do that the kingdom of God doesn’t just extend in our lives, it extends around us too.
What is God saying to us today? Where do we need to come to him as his kids and say – I can’t do this but I know that you can? Jesus speak to us now we pray.
God, we thank you that you are a good Father. That your love for us is perfect. It never changes and never fails. Through the gift of faith help us to trust you this day. To humble ourselves before you and ask that you Lord God would bring the breakthroughs we need this day. Amen.
READING: Matthew 19:1-15
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’
‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’
Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’
The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’
Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’
Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.