1. When Jesus had finished saying these things, He left Galilee and went into the part of Judea that is on the other side of the Jordan;
2. And great throngs followed Him there, and so He healed them there.
3. And while He was in the area, the Pharisees came to Him again and put Him to the test by asking, “Is it legal and right for a man to dismiss his wife…to divorce her for any reason that he may have?
4. He replied to them, “Have you never read in your Scriptures that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female?
5. This is why a man has to leave his father and mother at some point, and be united and bonded to his wife…and when that happens, the two of them become, in a sense, one single entity,
6. so that they are no longer two separate physical bodies, but actually become one new one. And if a particular union between a man and a woman is, indeed, God-ordained, then no human being should do anything to create a disconnect between what God has put together.”
7. They shot back at Him, “Well if marriage is so special…if, indeed, it is a God-created thing, then why did Moses make it so practical and easy to get a divorce? According to his law, all a man has to do to get out of a marriage is to send his wife a written notice, and then just simply dismiss her from his life, and be done with her, altogether.”
8. He said to them, “Moses set up this system basically because of the hardness of your hearts…specifically, your insensitivity to women. He permitted you to simply dismiss your wives with no regard for required responsibility to them because you have had no concept of covenant. But in this Moses did not have the heart and mind of God, considering that this self-serving male convenience was not in God’s original plan.
9. But I say to you that whoever just casually dismisses his wife for no legitimate reason, and marries the next available woman who comes along, really is only committing adultery with her. His shallow flippancy in such a case shows that he has no understanding of the seriousness of covenant. The situation is somewhat different if the wife has been unfaithful to her husband, but the real issue is still about the apparent disregard of covenant. So if a man marries a woman just because she was dismissed for her unfaithfulness to her husband, he is still just committing adultery with her if there is no genuine commitment to the covenant of marriage.”
10. The disciples, listening in on this conversation, said to Him, “If that’s really what marriage is about…if covenant is really that important…if God takes it that seriously…then no man in his right mind would ever want to get married! What would be the point of limiting your options by binding yourself to that kind of commitment?”
11. But He said to them, “Marriage is for men…not for boys. That’s why not all men can accept this concept. It’s for those who are mature enough to understand and appreciate the value of human, adult relationships.
12. But it also requires a certain kind of maturity to understand that this kind of relationship isn’t for everyone. There are some asexual men who, from birth, never seem to give women or marriage a thought. Other men may have been intentionally emasculated for cultural purposes, or for other reasons. And still others are single and celibate for spiritual pursuits…as if they were married only to the Kingdom of/from the heavens. Whatever the case, it requires insightful maturity to comprehend that not everyone takes the same path, or has the same needs in these matters. If you can receive this, you will be able to live and let live.”
13. When this unusual exchange ended, people started bringing their little children to Jesus, requesting that He put His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples, thinking that this was unimportant, or beneath Jesus, or was a waste of His time, openly rebuked those who brought them.
14. But He stopped them immediately and said, “You leave these children alone! Allow every single one of these little ones to come to Me, and don’t you ever forbid or restrain them again. Not only are they important…they are what the Kingdom of/from the heavens is all about!”
15. And He laid His hands on them, and after He had prayed for all of them He went on His way.
16. Another day a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, You’re good…so I ask You…what good thing must I do to be in full possession of eternal life?"
17. Jesus said, "Why do you question me about what's good…in fact, why do you even call Me good? God is the only One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just practice His precepts…keep His commandments…and you will manifest His goodness in your life."
18. This statement was too general for the man, so he probed a little further, saying, “OK, then…which commandments, in particular, should I keep?”
19. Jesus said, “All of them are important…don't murder…don't commit adultery…don't steal…don't lie about people…honor your father and mother…basically all the different ways of simply saying ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’."
20. The young man said, “That’s it? That’s all there is? I’ve kept all these commandments practically my whole life, and I’m still not good. What am I missing?”
21. Jesus said to him, “Look, if you’re really that serious about manifesting the character of God in your life, then go sell everything that you have, give everything that you make from the sale to the poor, and then you’ll be free to become one of my disciples. The entirety of your possessions will then be in the Kingdom, and all that you own will be deposited into the heavenly realm.”
22. But Jesus went too far for the young man on this point. The idea of selling everything…this suggestion of total abandon…just seemed too extreme for him, especially because he was wealthy, and had a lot of possessions. Jesus’ words not only caught him off guard, they also overwhelmed and depressed him…and so, not knowing what to say, he just turned around and walked away in convicted silence.
23. As Jesus watched him go, He said to the disciples who were standing there with Him, “I tell you, truthfully, it is really quite difficult…extremely hard…for a rich man to become a subject in the Kingdom of/from the heavens.
24. In fact, it’s easier for a camel to go through that little gate that they leave open at night in the walls of Jerusalem called ‘The Needle's Eye’…the gate that is so low and narrow that a large animal can only pass through it on its knees, and unencumbered with baggage. It’s symbolic of the way a rich man has to enter the Kingdom.
25. For some reason, the disciples were staggered by these words. They said to Him, “Well, then, if that’s the case, who has any chance of being fit for the Kingdom, at all?”
26. Jesus looked straight at them, and into them, and said, “Things like this are virtually impossible when only using human strength…but with God’s help, anything and everything is really possible!”
27. Then Peter spoke up and said, "Well, now that you mention it…we may not have had the kind of wealth that that young man has, but we’ve left everything that we did have to follow you. What are we going to get for our sacrifice?”
28. Jesus said to them, “Yes, you have, in fact, followed me, fully…and so I say to you that in the new age…when the earth is reborn into the revelation of the Christ…when the Son of Man is enthroned in glory…you will be enthroned, as well! In fact, all who have followed me will rule and have dominion, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel.
29. And this is the part the wealthy young man didn’t stick around long enough to find out: Anyone who sacrifices home, family, property…whatever…because of their desire to follow Me…will get every bit of it back a hundred times over! And this is in addition to the promise of the full blessings of eternal, or ‘ now’-life!
30. And in this there is a great reversal coming…many of the so-called ‘first’ ones will actually end up being the last to walk in this. And, by the same token, many who are considered to be the ‘last’ to come in, will, in reality, be the first to obtain it.”