Following Jesus takes effort and commitment. Jesus explains that in three subsections of this passage.
(16:10-13) Continuing Jesus’ thought about money, he now addresses the way to gain true riches—eternal riches of relationship with Jesus now and forever. Our attitude towards money, whether we faithfully invest in heaven, evidences our heart. If you are not faithful with this world’s resources, why would anyone thing you would be faithful with “true riches.” Then comes the famous aphorism: no one can serve two masters. Because of this truth, it is logically impossible to serve both God and money.
(16:14-17) This uncomfortable truth causes the Pharisees to respond with ridicule. Note when people cannot stand against the truth by defeating it with argument, they will often resort to name calling and ridicule. Do not be discouraged, for so they treated Jesus too. His reply is brilliant: their attempting to make Jesus look ridiculous to other people shows that what they are really interested in is what other people think. Let us be careful not to use religious jargon to hide a heart that is more concerned with with what our peers think of us than what God thinks of us. What is despised by people is deeply honored by God. This then leads to Jesus to think of the great heroes of the Bible: the Law and the Prophets, John, and the preaching of the gospel still today. Not always well treated by people, but honored by God. “Everyone forces his way into it” is a strange phrase to our ears, but it speaks against the lethargy we are all too prone to fall into. The Christian life is not a boat cruise; it is a fight; it is a race. To advance the kingdom requires effort, even, speaking in hyperbole, “force.” Are we putting all our effort into advancing the kingdom? If we wish to see kingdom advance, it will take hard work, persistence, effort, energy, commitment.
(16:18) The controversial saying about divorce and remarriage is to be read in conjunction with Matthew 5:32 (divorce, “except on the ground of sexual immorality,” is effectively committing adultery). But whatever our take on what is sometimes called the “Matthew exception,” Jesus has a very high view of marriage. Marriage is for life. It’s a life sentence. There is grace for failures in this area as well as in others: divorce is not the unpardonable sin. But because marriage between one man and one woman for life is so trivialized today, it is worth underlining this high view of marriage that Jesus teaches.
Marriage, beautiful and honorable as it is, can sometimes also be hard work. To this work the married disciple, in all normal circumstances, is called.
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