Daily Devotions


Day 65

A Tough Problem in Every Generation

Text: Matthew 5:21 - 48

The problem of divorce is not a modern day phenomenon. It was a problem that plagued society in the days of Jesus too! From a careful reading of the text, it would appear that the problem of divorce was not unheard of in the days of Moses. Let us take time to consider how Jesus dealt with the problem of divorce.


It is interesting to note how Jesus would introduce a theological problem He was going to address. He would say,

“Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever
divorces his wife, let him give her a
certificate of divorce.'”
Matthew 5:31

This manner of speaking may be observed in the following texts.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old…”
Matthew 5:21

“You have heard that it was said to those of old…”
Matthew 5:27

What was the significance in the way Jesus chose His words? Let us ponder the following thoughts:-

1. When Jesus wanted to cite current theological views

Though Jesus was in fact citing Scripture, when He introduced the controversial topics, He was going to address with this formula,

“It was said to those of old…”
Matthew 5:21, 27, 31

He was merely quoting prevailing theological views. This was His way of citing theological views. He did not endorse these views even though Scripture was cited.

2. When Jesus wanted to cite the authority of the Scriptures

Jesus would often preface His citing of the Scriptures with this formula.

“It is written…”
Matthew 4: 4, 7, 10

Often times there was not even a word of explanation. There was just citation and the implicit meaning was assumed understood.

3. When Jesus wanted to introduce the idea of Messianic authority

Jesus, knowing His own Messianic authority needed only to say,

“But I say to you…”
Matthew 5:22, 28, 32

Those who heard Him would have to puzzle out the full extent of His declared authority!


Jesus knew that the more liberally inclined Jews were abusing the law of Moses concerning the issue of divorce. He was well aware of the fact that many men were divorcing their wives on sheer technical grounds of the law.

Moses did make provision for divorce. Let us ponder this text.

“When a man takes a wife and marries her,
and it happens that she finds no favour in his
eyes because he has found some uncleanness
in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce,
puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house…”
Deuteronomy 24:1

Those who wanted to divorce their wives could think that they had not acted in dissonance of the Mosaic Law if they made sure that they gave to their erstwhile spouse the “certificate of divorce”.

Scriptures may be conveniently cited. That did not mean however that the spirit of the law was kept, even if the letter of the law was!


The issue of divorce was a complex one! There were many things to ponder over. Jesus knew that He would have to deal with this problem in greater depth on other occasions. Nevertheless, He wanted His disciples to be familiar with His understanding and approach to the problem of divorce.

“But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife
for any reason except sexual immorality causes her
to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman
who is divorced commits adultery.”
Matthew 5:32

What did Jesus mean by these words? His approach was obviously different from the theological views that prevailed in His time. Let us summarise what Jesus emphasized in this statement.

1. Divorce was allowable.

2. The grounds for divorce must be of the gravest nature – such as adultery.

3. Divorce is not the last word!

a) Divorce can cause another person to sin.

b) The person who practices divorce indiscriminately is considered blameworthy.

4. Divorce should not be considered the best option to resolving marital problems!