This week we come to Mark 10:1-16 where we find the Pharisees and Jesus discussing the lawfulness of divorce. The question at hand is but is not really about divorce. The question or discussion at hand is: How do we understand the Law? What is the purpose of the law?
When we think about the law our tendency is to think about it as a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior (Oxford Dictionary). Notice the word “regulate”. To us to obey the law or to live within the confines of the law is to have behavior “regulated”. It is the recognition that those who obey the law are in some manner or form “righteous” or “holy”.
Is “regulated behavior” the question behind the question about divorce?
“The Pharisees came and asked Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’”
The Pharisees are using their question to trap Jesus. To get him to admit that he is outside the bonds of the Law. In the discussion Jesus’ approach to the Law is different than the Pharisees and probably the rest of us who follow Him. Jesus reminds us as he teaches throughout the gospel of Mark that the Law is the Torah. It is not one specific Law, rather, it is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In other words, the Law … Torah is better understood as teaching. It is God’s teaching.
God’s teaching is not the teaching of ideals, rather, Scripture is very practical. Scripture’s action is the Law. Another way to think about it is that the commandment is the same as instruction. Scripture is instruction about the way of the Lord. It is instruction about the Lord’s way of life. Scripture is about living and so it begins with behavior (Genesis 1-3). Because Scripture contains God’s teaching we need to reflect and contemplate, how do we live out the commandments that govern our relationship with God and with one another?
To facilitate your reflection I commend to you the following podcast https://ephesusschool.org/what-does-the-law-say/ from The Ephesus School which is hosted by Dr. Richard Benton and Fr. Marc Boulos.
May the Lord bless you in your reflection on God’s Law as we prepare for Sunday.
Yours in Christ,