The Lord Jesus is here prosecuting his ministry; healing the sick; conversing with the Pharisees; receiving little children; discoursing with his disciples.
"And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; (2) And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. (3) The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (4) And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, (5) And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (6) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (7) They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? (8) He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (9) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
There can be no question, but that the married state from the beginning of the creation of the world, was intended as a beautiful representation of the mystical union between Christ and his Church. Genesis 2:18-21 to the end, explained by Ephesians 5:23 to the end. And all the after stages, in the departure of our nature by adultery, could not destroy the first, and legitimate connection. Jesus betrothed his Church to himself forever. Hosea 2:19-20. And though Moses as the Lord Jesus said, for the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites, did permit a bill of divorcement, yet not so will Jesus. His language is: though thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return unto me saith the Lord. Jeremiah 3:1; Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Hence the Church recovered by sovereign grace, sings aloud, I will return unto my first husband. Hosea 2:6-7.
"His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. (11) But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. (12) For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
How little do these men form proper conceptions in what the kingdom of heaven in grace is made, who have fancied the qualifications for the enjoyment of it consists in things outward; instead of that regeneration of the heart, which the Lord himself describes, as the best and only qualification, by the blood and righteoussness of Jesus Christ. Men may make themselves what they may in nature, but it is the Lord who alone makes a new heart in grace. John 3:8; Ezekiel 36:24-32.
"Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. (14) But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (15) And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence."
Strange it is that any should forbid godly parents from presenting their little ones to Jesus, when we see how positive the command of God was to bring children to the Lord the eighth day from their birth. Genesis 17:9-14. Was the Lord so tenacious under the old dispensation to have little ones brought to him: and is He regardless under the new?
"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? (17) And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (18) He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, (19) Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (20) The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? (21) Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (22) But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (23) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (24) And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (25) When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? (26) But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
I beg the Reader particularly to notice our Lord's answer to the question of this man, in calling Christ good. Why callest thou me good? As if Jesus had said, Thou knowest that there is, there can be none good but one, that is God. Hast thou then from the miracles I have wrought, received conviction that I am (and which is indeed the case) God. This seems to have been the sense of our Lord's question. And then, as if to deal with him as God, Jesus sends him to discover his ruined state, in the conviction of his own heart, from the breach of the commandments; and enumerates a few, as a decision for all. And so wholly untaught of the Spirit was this youth, that he knew nothing of the plague of his own heart, and therefore with the confidence of a poor, dark, blind, and ignorant mind, he declared, that he had kept the whole of God's law; when it was notorious from scripture, that he had broken the whole. James 2:10. The Lord therefore only touched him a little more closely concerning one point, and which served to detect him in all. Oh! what a deceitful heart, the human heart is, and how incapable of doing any one thing towards its own salvation? Jeremiah 17:9-10; Revelation 3:17.
"Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? (28) And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (29) And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (30) But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first."
Reader! do not fail to observe the blessedness of those who follow Christ in the regeneration? But in doing this, yet more particularly note the cause. It is for Jesus' sake, and by the Lord Jesus' righteousness. All for him and all by him. And in this redemption, the last and least, in the view of others, are first and greatest in the esteem of Christ. So essential it is to know him, whom to know is life eternal. Precious Lord! how reverse to the custom and manners of the world, is thy kingdom!
Oh! thou glorious and gracious bridegroom of thy Church! Everlasting praises to thy name, it is not lawful for Jesus to put away his wife, whatever the world may do, for every cause. The Lord God of Israel hath said, that he hateth putting away. And while Jesus himself hath said by his Apostle, Husbands love your wives, and be not bitter against them; will Jesus be bitter against his? What! though she hath, since from everlasting he betrothed himself to her, fallen away, and sunk into misery and sin; will not Jesus recover her from this state? Yea, will it not be to his glory so to do? Yes! thou dear Lord! it will be to thy greater glory to recover her, than though she had never fallen. And the whole inhabitants of heaven will praise thee, and love thee the more also when thou shalt bring her home, cleansed from all her sins, in thy blood, and shalt present her to thyself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but shall be without blame before thee in love!
Blessed Master I would humbly enquire of thee concerning eternal life, as this youth; but not what good thing that I must do to attain it. For alas! if the possession of heaven could be obtained with only a single act of goodness; never to all eternity should I find it. Where I should do good, evil is present with me. Oh! then for grace to know thee, to love thee, to follow thee, as my only good; my hope, my righteousness, my portion forever! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany