In Ephesians chapter 5, we find a word-picture of marriage that seems crazy… yet is so beautiful that we should surely take a really good look.
Actually, we NEED to take a good look – because when we see God’s picture, it is a captivating vision that can transform our marriages into something truly magnificent!
We MUST take a good look – for two reasons
– because God has intended marriage to be so magnificent that it points to the relationship between Jesus and the church
– because it could revolutionise our view of God’s love for us!
Let’s look – Ephesians 5:22-32 (New International Version):
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.
“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
At first glance, this is a set of instructions, directed to all husbands and wives – what husbands must do and what wives must do.
When we look closer, we find that they teach us the vital elements of God’s design for making marriage a magnificent unity. They show us how two people, different in so many ways, can live together in such unity that “no longer two, but one” is the best way to describe them.
We see that they speak of a spectacular love relationship – of a wife surrendering completely, with joyful abandon – and to a husband who has committed his very life to her well-being. There is such a magnificent mutual devotion and unity that they can be said to point to Jesus.
As married couples, this is our magnificent potential!
– We choose to surrender our autonomy in order to be united as one.
– We choose to lay down our preferences in order to love the other more than ourselves.
– We learn that sacrificial love is selfless, yet the most personally rewarding way! We submit and we sacrifice for the sake of the other – yet we find great personal reward is the result!
Marriage as God designed it is truly magnificent! Tragically, it has been “dumbed down” by many and shrunk into a Godless form that leaves us amazed when it succeeds! But when we go back to God’s design, we find that the magnificent way is still there for us to enjoy!
But beyond marriage, this text speaks about something even more profound. It speaks of the relationship that Jesus has with those who choose to submit their lives to him. It speaks of Jesus as a bridegroom who is utterly devoted to his bride – the Church. It presents a picture of Jesus that is amazing and magnificent! He loves us so much that he lays his life down for us. He loves us so much that he works constantly to nurture us into a wholeness that is absolutely beautiful!
A wife can trust a husband like that with absolutely everything. Jesus is a husband like that! So we can trust him with absolutely everything!
This is love! This is CRAZY BEAUTIFUL love!
We’d be crazy not to embrace it!