To trick Jesus, the religious leaders tried to get him to debate the legalistic elements of their law. What is powerful about this exchange is not just what Jesus said, but also how he said it. As we will see in the following verses (Matthew 19:4-9),
- he refused to get caught up in their argument,
- he moved from the debate over a specific passage to the deeper theological, core value of God in giving the command in the first place (Genesis 2:21-24), and
- multiple times, he emphasized the key issue of husband and wife becoming one and staying together as one.
Yes, in a way Jesus did answer their question, but not before he corrected their assumptions and confronted their legalism. Jesus teaches us to obey God's will, not just split hairs in debates over Scripture.
Holy God, I want my heart to yearn for your will and my life to reflect your character. Please help me guard my heart from a legalistic mind that looks for ways to justify myself and ways to find loopholes for my weaknesses. Give me wisdom to focus on what is important and to be faithful even in those areas that are sometimes not considered to be important. I want to be yours totally — in word, thought, speech, and behavior. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.