As this major section of Mark begins, we see Jesus heading south on His journey to the cross. The opposition that will later put Him to death is seen here as still trying to undermine Him before the people. The issue this time is divorce. The Pharisees attempt to bring Jesus into an ongoing debate regarding the legality and grounds for divorce. This question had split the scholars of that day, and it was their intent to put Jesus into an unwinnable position. Regardless of His answer, He would offend someone!
But Jesus is not as interested in divorce as He is in reinforcing God’s design for marriage. Mark, writing to a Roman audience, stresses the marriage issue, aiming Jesus’ remarks at the hearts of people for whom divorce was barely an issue simply because marriage was not held in high honor. What Mark’s readers needed to know was that God intended marriage to be a covenantal relationship between a man and a woman, designed for their life-long pleasure and His glory.