It takes vision for us to be able to see clearly. While this is true when we’re talking about our eyesight, it’s equally true when we’re talking about our lives. Here at Epic, we have a really clear vision:
The vision of Epic Church is to see an increasing number of people in San Francisco orient their entire lives around Jesus.
We were made to know Jesus, love Jesus, and follow Jesus with all we are and all we have. And here’s what I want you to know, no matter who you are, where you’ve been, or even what you believe:
Jesus has a vision for your life.
And this means we aren’t just here randomly, with no sense of purpose. There’s intention behind your existence. But it’s not just some huge general vision that Jesus has for your life.
Jesus has a vision for every part of your life.
But he isn’t the only one who has a vision for your life. Did you know that other people in your life have a vision for your life? And Satan has a vision for your life. And our culture has a vision for your life. And you have a vision for your life.
What do you do when there are competing visions for your life? You have to decide who you will follow. What’s going to be the north star for you? Who do you believe has your best interest at heart?
While I’ve never worn glasses or contacts, I have a number of people in my family and on our staff team who do. And I’m amazed when they tell me how drastic the difference is between when they have their glasses on and when they don’t. I have one friend who says, “I can’t see a thing without my glasses.”
I’ve also heard people say this after getting glasses: I had no idea what I was missing. But now I know what things are supposed to look like.
Because of our vision here at Epic, we should have a deep desire to know what things are supposed to look like. We’re starting a new series in Mark 10 today called Corrective Lenses. While all of us are going to be challenged by this series, Jesus is here to help us gain a clear vision for the lives He wants us to live. Here are the four areas Jesus is going to help us see more clearly: marriage, children, wealth, and ambition. I’m calling today’s message, “A Vision for Marriage”.
In our text, Jesus is asked a question about divorce. But rather than see his response as primarily being about divorce, I urge you to see it as Jesus sharing His vision for marriage.
Mark 10:1-12 Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them. Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” “What did Moses command you?” he replied. They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.’ ‘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.”
When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
I’m guessing that whoever you are, you have some kind of reaction to what we’ve just heard from Jesus. Our thoughts and feelings likely have something to do with what has been true in our lives, what is currently true in our lives, and what we desire to be true in our lives. We might feel guilt and shame. We might be angry at Jesus. We might be feeling really hopeful. We might feel all kinds of things. I want to speak to some of those things before we’re done today, but here’s my request for now: Let’s stay open and even curious about what Jesus is trying to communicate to us about marriage.
Jesus has a vision for marriage.
The Pharisees come to Jesus to test him or to trap him. Have you ever been asked a question and you know you’ll lose regardless of how you answer the question? During this time there were two rabbis who had different views on divorce. The Pharisees thought that whichever Jesus chose, it would cause the other group to oppose him.
Rabbi Shammai had a strict view on divorce. For him, a man could only get a divorce on grounds of adultery. Rabbi Hillel was more lenient and allowed a man to divorce his wife for almost any reason – even if it was because she burned a meal.
Let me answer a couple of questions you might already have. Do I think divorce is allowed for some reasons? I do. Do I think remarriage is okay for some people? I do. But the aim today isn’t to see what we can get away with – it’s to learn how to live into God’s vision for our lives.
And today isn’t about what the world at large does with the topic of marriage. It’s about what we do if we’re really wanting to fully follow Jesus.
“A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for everyone. I do not think that. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.” - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Notice the question Jesus asks them – “What did Moses COMMAND you?” And listen for the verb they use to answer this question. “Moses PERMITTED a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” Jesus is asking, “What is the ideal?”, but they are only wanting to know, “What can we get away with?”
May we lean into God’s vision for our lives, rather than seeing how far we can lean away from it and still be okay.
Jesus said that divorce was allowed because their hearts were hard...but that’s not the vision.
Jesus isn’t so much making a point for divorce as much as he’s sharing what the point of marriage actually is. And when he has a chance to change its original meaning, he doesn’t. He affirms that his current vision of marriage is the same one God had from the beginning. And He does it by quoting a couple of verses from Genesis.
Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 2:24-25 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
United. One flesh. What God has joined together is meant to be kept together.
The vision of marriage is to live united, not divided.
Our culture views marriage through a lens of convenience, but Jesus views marriage through a lens of covenant.
A covenant is a promise or a pact. There’s a reason they call what happens in weddings a marriage vow.
“In a covenant, the good of the relationship takes precedence over the immediate needs of the individual.” Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
Our culture’s current vision of marriage is miles away from the vision Jesus has for marriage…because our culture’s current vision revolves around the individual self.
So we’ve seen the vision Jesus has for marriage. But what does it all mean for you personally?
I have two questions for you: When it comes to romantic relationships, sex, and marriage:
What’s behind you?
What’s in front of you?
Let me show you something that will help so much. When it comes to the things in your past that you’re less than proud of, Satan loves to bring these up and accuse you, shame you, and condemn you. But when it comes to what’s in front of you, he is always scheming to get you to choose life away from God and God’s purpose for you.
Now watch this. When it comes to things in your past that you are less than proud of, God loves to bring grace, forgiveness, mercy, restoration, and redemption. And when it comes to what’s in front of you, God is saying, “From this day forward you can live fully into my vision and design for your life.”
While I cannot speak extensively to everyone’s situation, let me give a few thoughts for several categories of people.
If you are Single:
You are not less than. You do not have to be married to FULLY live into God’s vision for your life. Jesus was single. Paul was single. You do not have to be married to live a fulfilling life. You do not have to have sex to live a fulfilling life. You do need to have intimate friendships to live a fulfilling life. This is the kind of community our church should keep striving after for single people and married people.
If you are Divorced:
I can only imagine the pain you might feel or the regret or the shame. Your divorce doesn’t define you. I think about the Samaritan woman in John 4. She had been married five different times and was now living with a man who wasn’t her husband. She’s miles away from Jesus’s vision for marriage. And right there, He offers her living water. He tells her, “You’ve been looking to love or men or marriage to satisfy your deepest longings. I can do that for you in a way that nothing else can.” She goes back to her town and invites everyone to come meet Jesus.
If you are having sex outside of marriage:
Maybe you’re having sex with someone who isn’t your spouse or isn’t your spouse yet. Jesus tells us that we aren’t to be one flesh with another person unless we’ve committed our entire lives to them in the covenant of marriage. There’s grace for you. I think about a couple in our church who had their lives transformed by Jesus. They knew they needed to get married or stop some of the things they were doing together. I’ll never forget the beautiful night when I had the privilege of officiating their wedding.
If you are Married:
You might be legally married, but your marriage is so far from the vision Jesus has for it. It’s a marriage full of distance, division, and selfish ambition. There’s hope for you too. What has been a stagnant marriage or even a horrible marriage can become a beautiful marriage.
The reason marriage is a big deal is because faithfulness is a big deal. Jesus is wanting to make us like He is. When we blow it, He doesn’t walk out. When we forget Him, He doesn’t forget us. When we choose to stop loving Him, He never chooses to stop loving us.
2 Timothy 2:13 If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
Will you trust the One who has always been faithful to you?
Will you enter into a covenant with Him?
God, give me/us a vision for being committed to you and your ways. If married, to my spouse. Single or married, committed to a web of deep relationships here in the Epic community and elsewhere.
If marriage is ultimate in your life, you will always come up empty. You mean if I stay single but make marriage ultimate, I’ll come up empty. Yes. And if you are married and you make marriage ultimate, you’ll always come up empty. Grace. Healing. Desires.