Summary: The idea of marriage was not first the relationship between a man and a woman, but first between God and His people.In other words, human marriage is created in the image of God’s love for us and not the other way around.
Review – children of God, bride of Christ: Loved, desired, God takes pleasure in us.
Valentines day is a few days away. So it is appropriate we cover this subject this week.
Marriage, how did it begin?
Whose idea was it? I have a rather interesting idea for you...marriage, as one man and one woman in a lifelong faithful relationship, was not first a human thought or tradition.
Jesus, quoting one of the oldest of all writings, from the book of Genesis, says marriage was God’s idea. Matt. 19:4-6 "Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female,’ 5 and said, `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
It was simpler in the very beginning, back in the Garden of Eden. I can imagine EVE asking Adam, "Do you still love me ADAM?" ADAM responded; "Who else?"
The idea of marriage was not first the relationship between a man and a woman, but first between God and His people.
In other words, human marriage is created in the image of God’s love for us and not the other way around. I believe that the Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote the passage in Ephesians that we like to quote in wedding ceremonies.
Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. “for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
I believe God gave us marriage not just to make us complete, to give us a helpmate, or even a soul-mate, but so that we might learn to see His own love through the covenant of marriage.
I believe that marriage is a living parable for us so that we might better understand the love that God has for us.
Look at the parallels that Paul uses in this passage: (highlight in powerpoint)
“head of the wife, Christ is the head of the church”
“be subject to your husband as the church is subject to Christ.”
“love your wives JUST AS Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her”
“Christ also (loves the church) because we are members of His body.
“and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
As a pastor, I am constantly exhorting prospective husbands and wives to model their marriage on the image of Christ and His church, loving one another the way that Christ loved the church, laying down His life for her.
But you know what? I think I’ve had it wrong. Not the theology, but the exhortation.
Often I am asking people to copy or imitate something that they have a limited understanding of.
Before we can imitate something, we need to have the image of what we are imitating burnt deeply into our consciousness.
You and I need to get a grasp of this image of Christ as the heavenly bridegroom and you and I as the bride.
God desires you to be his forever companion in eternity.
This picture became really clear to me this week when I was studying and came across a description of the betrothal process in 1st Century Jewish culture. The groom would propose and a legally binding contract would be made over a glass of wine that both the bride to be and the groom would drink. Then the groom would go back to his parents house and add a room on. This is because the Jews of that day, lived in extended family structures, with homes literally having annexes added on with each successive generation. Once the groom had finished the room for his bride, he would come back for her to complete the marriage arrangements.