Sunday, August 14, 2022

By John Barksdale - Journey Church Group Leader
Matthew 5:31-32

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”


Matthew 5:31-32 is a difficult passage, so let’s make sure we keep the context in mind.

Jesus is redefining various old sayings by using the formula, “It has been said…but I say to you”. He uses this formula six times throughout the Sermon on the Mount. This is all about the upside-down world of God’s Kingdom. The instruction about divorce is in the middle of teachings about how anger is the first step towards murder, that lust leads to adultery, that making promises should be simple, that when insulted we should turn the other cheek, and that we should pray for our enemies. These teachings emphasize that the condition of the heart is at the root of these actions.

Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomy 24:1, where Moses told the husband that if he desires to divorce his wife, he has to give her a written notice of the divorce. It should be pointed out that only a husband could issue this decree in this culture. The problem was that this teaching was being abused since the husband could use any reason for divorcing his wife. She was supposed to receive a divorce settlement, but this amount was never bigger than the initial dowry given to the husband at the wedding. So, if she came from a poor family, the settlement would not be very big, and as a result she would be destined to live a life of poverty.

Adultery was thought as only an offense against another man, but Jesus is stating that divorce “makes the wife the victim of adultery”. It is a sin against her, not the other way around! Jesus is flipping this idea on its head.

So how do we apply this passage to today’s world?

Jesus is showing the importance of the wife, and that they are NOT to be treated like property. Marriage makes a man and a woman one flesh, and to divorce is like cutting off a piece of yourself. To divorce has serious consequences and should not be treated lightly.

Jesus is also teaching that God’s original idea was to unite a woman and a man as co-rulers, and equal partners by using marriage. Marriage is God’s idea and therefore it should be treated as holy and sacred (See Genesis 2:22-24).

Divorce is rampant in our world and anyone that has gone through one can speak of the devastation that divorce causes to one’s family and to one’s very soul. Please know that there is grace and forgiveness at the foot of the cross. There is hope that God can redeem the bad things in our lives and turn them into blessings.


“Father, thank you for creating marriage with all its blessings. Thank you for your grace, forgiveness, and for speaking to our hearts. Amen.”

Daily Prayer Initiatives
  • Jesus to change more lives as we double the square footage of our Castle Pines location.
  • Momentum as we launch our Highlands Ranch location.
  • Someone you can invite to Journey on Friend Day (Sunday, September 11)
  • One bold prayer you sense God is personally inviting you to pray during the 21 Days.
I read this devotional

Now You Try

Matthew 5:31-32


Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.


Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:

  • Why was this written?
  • To whom was it originally written?
  • What is the author trying to communicate?
  • What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?


After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:

  • What do these verses mean today?
  • What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
  • How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
  • What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?


Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.