Summary: Marriage is not ultimate; it’s just a symbol of something ultimate.

We’ll start at end where Paul sums up his teaching on marriage

31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Paul explains that marriage was given to us as a sign of something. Marriage was not an end unto itself.

God created it to point to a higher reality—Christ’s relationship to his church. C. S. Lewis described marriage like a ray of sunshine… the sun has millions of rays; marriage is only one of them, and the ray should never, in our hearts, replace the thing that it points us to.

#1… (this is pretty deep, and radical—must get this!) 1. Marriage is not ultimate; it is a sign and shadow of a higher reality.

Christ is the source of all love and joy—the love you were created for is not the love of another human being; it’s in his love. And the church is the ultimate, eternal family. According to Scripture, relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families.

Will you let me blow your mind for a minute? It’s going to sound like I’m dogging on marriage, but hang with me.

o “In the resurrection,” Jesus said, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).

o In heaven, I will not be married to my wife. I’m not sure what it’s like, but it will not be like the relationship we have here.

o What’s that going to be like—when I see her will I give her a wink? I’m tempted to let that make me sad, but I know that whatever God has for us there will be better than here. If anything, we’ll be closer there than here. I don’t know how that works.

o But the point is that marriage is not eternal or ultimate.

o Matthew 12: “And when his own mother and brothers asked to see him, Jesus said, “‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!’” (Matthew 12:48--‐ 49). Wow. John Piper (who preached here a couple of weeks ago) says this about this verse: “Jesus is turning everything around. Yes, he loved his mother and his brothers. But those are only temporary relationships. His focus was on those whom he called out for himself. He was calling out a new family where single people in Christ (or people not really in families) are full--‐ fledged family members on a par with all others, bearing fruit for God and becoming mothers and fathers of the eternal kind.” 1 His mother and brothers are those who obey his word!

1 than-sons-and-daughters

o Luke 11: While Jesus was speaking to a group, a woman yelled out (people who yell when preachers are talking): “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” a woman cried out to Jesus. (which has to be one of the weirdest things to hear while you are preaching. KJV: blessed are the paps which gave you suck!” And he turned and said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27). Wow: Those who obey the word of God are more blessed than the mother of God.

o Mark 10, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29--‐ 30).

o He is saying: We must renounce the primacy of our natural relationships and follow Jesus into the fellowship of the people of God, whether we are single or married.

o Take a deep breath and reorder your world.

John Piper: “Marriage is temporary; and it will finally give way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church—the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face.”2

Marriage only gives you a sign and foretaste of the future kingdom of God.3

I don’t want to dismiss the importance of the sign. It’s one of the very best of God’s good gifts to us, and an indispensable part of the created order. But—listen, and this is crucial—life goes wrong when you make the symbol ultimate.

2 Ibid.

3 Tim Keller, Meaning of Marriage, 198.

As in: Marriage gone wrong: When your happiness and self--‐ worth are dependent on being loved romantically. When you think that marriage, or good romance, is the one indispensable key to being happy, and you feel like you couldn’t live without it. This is the most widely accepted myth in our culture—the most widely worshipped false god—we think romantic love “completes us.”

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