Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marriage: Christ and the Church









Marriage is a “type” of the union of Christ and the church. Believers need to see marriage in a new light.

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

In 1st Century Palestine, there were three prominent cultures: Hebrew, Greek and Roman. While both Greek and Roman cultures had those who married one person for life, the better off you were the more likely you didn’t fit that scenario. It was quite common for a Greek man to have a wife to perpetuate the family legally and other women for friendship and romance. In fact that tended to be the rule. As far as Romans go, they were big on divorcing. Some folks were divorced and married 10 to 20 times. But the Hebrew norm was still one man and woman for life. There was some divorce in Jewish culture but not very common. So if you had asked Paul if he was teaching anything new in this passage about marriage he would have probably said, “No, I’m teaching what the Bible says.” But he did have one new twist.

First, Let’s look first at His Grounds for Marriage. In v 31, Paul grounds marriage on Gen 2:24: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” Real simple, right? One man, One woman, One flesh. Not two men or one man and two women, or a man and his TV. One of each gender, one flesh, no other options. Also percolating up through this passage we see the permanence of marriage in the Old Testament illustrated by how God wanted to have an eternal union with His people. God referred to Israel as his bride as his espoused, he was engaged to her. (Jer 3:14, 2:2; Hosea) That relationship foreshadows the relationship between Christ and the church. It’s not the same, but similar.
2nd. That brings me to the Great Mystery. While marriage is based on one man/one woman of the OT, there is a New mystery: namely, the union of Christ and the church.

In Rev 13 we see Jesus crucified before the foundation of the world. So spiritual truths and the reasons Christ was crucified come before the creation of everything. God's plan to unite Christ and the church came before the creation of people and the creation of marriage. Marriage then, is the symbol, memorial and tribute to the marriage of Christ and the Church. We tend to look at all the good “human” reasons for marriage and there are good reasons. It’s a great way to raise children, great way to practice grace and patience, gives stability to a society etc. But first and foremost, it should be a picture of the Love of God for His people. 
It reminds us of the price Jesus paid to redeem us so that He could be in Union with us and us with Him! There are three great Unions in scripture: A) The union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God, 3 persons. There are NOT three gods. Hear Oh Israel, the Lord is One. B) There is the Union of two natures in Jesus Christ; he is both God and Man. Those are two distinct things. God is not human, man is not divine, but in Jesus they are met together. C) The union of Christ and the church becoming one. It is similar to the union Christ and His Father. There is an eternal joining of redeemed people and their savior, as individuals and as the church as a body. This is what is pictured in a marriage. 
 
3. Now because of this, there is a Greater Meaning to marriage. First, Note how the title “Christ” is in this passage 6-times (along w/ He, Lord, His etc.). He plays the most prominent role. Especially in V32; he doesn't say he was not talking about marriage, but that marriage and the teaching of marriage applies to, is found in, (Gk-eis), Christ and the church. This is what REALLY makes marriage all the more sacred. Not the joining of two sinners, but the picture of the perfect Christ and His Holy Bride, made Holy by the Blood of Jesus! 
 
4. This brings us to the Godly Mandate for marriage. A) First, marriage should be permanent. How long will the Bride of Christ live and reign with Him in Heaven? A few years? ‘Til somebody better or cuter comes along? Until He gets tired of us? NO! FOR-EV-ER! Jesus will NOT trade us in for a Trophy Wife. B) Second, Christian marriages should imitate Christ and the church. Really! Christian marriages should have a groom who would and does, lay down his life for his bride. Not just his life, but the things in his life. Is he willing to give up his bass boat? His King Kab F-150 pickup? How about his night out with the boys? How about his magazines and x-rated movies? A couple married 15 years began having more than usual spats. To make their marriage work the wife had an idea. For one month they planned to drop a criticism in a "Fault" box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. The wife was diligent in her efforts and approach: "leaving the jelly top off the jar," "wet towels on the shower floor," "dirty socks not in hamper," on and on until the end of the month. After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. They all had the same exact message; on each slip was, "I love you!" Now maybe that husband was just ‘guilting’ his wife, but isn’t that what Christ says when we come to him confessing our faults? I love you. Christian marriages should have a bride who is in submission to her husband. Who loves him even though he’s not near enough like Jesus. One who is willing to follow him anywhere, but is responsible enough to LOVINGLY bring her hopes, wisdom and experience to the table to help make decisions. C) And third, Christian marriages should be a witness to the world. Is your marriage a witness? Do people look at your relationship with your husband or wife and say, now That’s a Christian marriage. Sadly, not very often that you see a couple like that. There are some! There are some right here in this church. An old pastor friend of mine who lived on a lake early in his ministry, and over the weeks, as he met people around the lake, he encountered a man who said, “Oh I know who you are. You’re the new preacher who lives across the lake from me.” My friend Jimmy was impressed and asked him how he knew. He said, “Sound carries over water, and a few days ago I heard you giving your wife 'what for', for not bringing something down to your boat when y’all were going fishing. So I started asking the neighbors who that loudmouth was across the lake.” Jimmy was crushed. That wasn’t a very good picture of Christ and the church was it? You see, just as God said, the two will become One Flesh, so also Jesus prayed that we would be joined in union with Him, like He is with His father. So acting in a way that hurts the witness of your marriage also hurts the witness of Christ. But knowing that every believer in Christ is joined together with Him and we have His spirit living within us; we know that we can show the world what the marriage of Christ and the church should look like. Have you been joined together with Christ? You have if you have repented from sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your only hope of salvation! Until that happens you’re marriage can’t possibly reflect Christ to the world. Will you turn from your sinful life today and trust in Christ? i John 17

1 comment:

Feel free to tell me and others what you think. You can use the tools of rhetoric but please, be clean and nice.