This Mystery is Profound - Part 1
September 15, 2019
As we move forward in the book of Ephesians, we now face a chunk of verses that is plain but profound. Our Lord Jesus Christ is going to give us commands and gospel truths about three common relationships on this old and fading earth: the relationship between husbands and wives, the relationship between parents and children, and the relationship between masters and servants.
I am really excited to begin this chunk of verses in Ephesians because it is so real and so relevant for us.
Those of you who are married are doing your best to build and keep great marriages. Those of us who are growing wiser are learning what it means to be better at honoring our parents and also what it means to be better at raising our children. Those of us who have jobs are striving to do the will of God and please him.
And all of us are realizing more and more that our love for Jesus must also come out in our relationships - in our love for one another.
So this is all so very real and so very relevant for us. Thank God for this chunk of verses in Ephesians. I really hope that the next several weeks will be wonderful and heartfelt and challenging for all of us.
Today our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us about marriage. The relationship between a husband and a wife.
Now there is something very fascinating going on here in verses 22-33. The Apostle Paul gives commands for wives and for husbands. Wives are to respect the headship of their husbands. And husbands are to love their wives and love them as their own bodies. But the fascinating thing is this. Paul does not focus on these commands themselves. Rather, Paul focuses on Christ Jesus and his church.
This is profound. The Bible describes the relationship between Jesus our Savior and Lord and us the church as a marriage. And when we consider the relationship between earthly husbands and earthly wives, the Bible focuses our attention on what is profound. It does not focus our attention primarily on what husbands and wives need to DO in order to have great marriages. It focuses our attention primarily on what husbands and wives need to LOOK AT in order to have great marriages. And we need to look at the perfect marriage between Christ Jesus and his church.
This is crucial to get right. If we focus our attention primarily on the commands, then there is no more biblical mystery. Instead, there is just unbiblical awkwardness and weirdness. If married women read this text and focus primarily and only on the command to respect the headship of their husbands, then they risk feeling conflicted about all of it or risk misunderstanding their husbands’ headship. And if married men read this text and focus primarily and only on the command to love their wives and love them as their own bodies, then they risk being clueless about all of it or risk abusing their headship. Unfortunately, this happens a lot. The focus is primarily and only on the commands. And the mystery is gone.
So today the focus of our attention will be on Christ Jesus and his church. Dear Highland, what I am about to tell you next is the mystery. Listen very carefully, especially if you are married.
Christ Jesus loves his church. He loved us back then. He loves us now. He loved us before he created the heavens and the earth. He will love us forever in the new heavens and the new earth. Jesus loves us, Highland. This mystery is profound.
Christ Jesus saved his church. He lived a perfect life for us. He credited us with his record of obedience and righteousness so that we would be blessed. And he died a perfect death for us. Our disobedience and sin was credited to him so that we would not be cursed. Jesus loves us, Highland. This mystery is profound.
Christ Jesus gave himself up for his bride that is the church. He humbled himself for her. He sacrificed himself for her. He laid down his life for her. He paid it all to have her back. As one pastor put it, just as Adam’s flesh was torn open to create a new bride, so Jesus’ flesh was torn open to create a new bride. Jesus loves us, Highland. This mystery is profound.
Christ Jesus sanctifies his bride that is the church. He feeds and leads us. He encourages us and disciplines us. He cleanses us and grows us. He speaks to us and assures us. He does all of this by his written word that is the Bible and his sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And soon and very soon, he will present us the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that we the church might be holy and without blemish. Jesus loves us, Highland. This mystery is profound.
Christ Jesus cherishes his bride that is the church. He is warm and relational as his heart goes out toward his church with deep and lavish affection and care. He is united to his church and treats her as if she were his own body. And he rejoices because of her. Jesus loves us, Highland. This mystery is profound.
Praise the Lord! Praise be to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! There is no greater love than this. Christ’s love for his church.
With this gospel mystery in place, we now turn to the brothers of Highland and especially to the husbands in the room. Next Sunday, we will turn to the sisters and to the wives in the room. So here we go. Brothers, brace yourselves for what I am about to say next. Christ Jesus, who is your King, commands you to love your wives as he loved the church.
Love your wife as Christ loves the church. It is true that you are the head of your wife. Yes, you have authority. Yes, you are the leader. Yes, God ordained that you would have this role in your marriage relationship. But this is really fascinating. You would expect Paul to say, “Husbands, lead your wives” or “Husbands, have authority over your wives.” But he doesn’t say that at all. Instead, he says, “Husbands, love your wives… as Christ loved the church.”
Therefore, brothers, look at what Christ does for his church. Your headship and your authority is for the purpose of love, just as Christ’s headship and authority is for the purpose of loving his church. Your headship and your authority is for the purpose of lifting up the spiritual well-being of your wife, just as Christ’s headship and authority is for the purpose of lifting up the spiritual well-being of his church. All in all, you are to lead your wife to greater love for Christ.
Christ calls your wife to submit to THIS kind of headship. Christ calls you to love your wife with THIS kind of love.
Brothers, I hope this changes the way that you see yourself in your marriage with your wife. Each and every week, you have a calling, you have a vocation, you have a high and heavy and honorable responsibility. May there be renewed fear and trembling in your heart and mind. God put you together with your wife so that you could be there for her spiritual well-being. God put you together with your wife so that you could love her as Christ loved the church.
Therefore, brothers, this is what your headship ought to look like in real life… in Christ. Speak the gospel of Christ to your wife on a weekly basis… as Christ speaks his gospel on a weekly basis to his church. Remind your wife about the big picture and Jesus’ return… as Christ reminds his church about the big picture and his return.
Therefore, brothers, encourage and assure your wife about the person and work of Jesus… as Christ encourages and assures his church about his person and work. Have dialogue with your wife… as Christ has dialogue with his church.
Therefore, brothers, listen attentively to her words from her heart… as Christ listens attentively to his church’s words from her heart. Ask how your wife is doing… as Christ asks his church how she is doing.
Therefore, brothers, talk to your wife with truth and love… as Christ talks to his church with truth and love. Pray for your wife… as Christ prays for his church.
Therefore, brothers, lead your wife through times of trials or testings… as Christ leads his church through times of trials or testings. Spiritually protect your wife… as Christ spiritually protects his church.
Therefore, brothers, rejoice in your wife… as Christ rejoices in his church. Take the time to tell your wife how beautiful she is… as Christ takes the time to tell his church how beautiful she is. Love your wife… as Christ loves his church.
Brothers, this is what your headship ought to look like in real life. This is Christian marriage at its best. Brothers, keep the mystery. And keep the mystery profound.
May the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and strength, brothers, as you obey his word for the sake of his glory and for the sake of your wives.
Soli Deo Gloria
Summary of Sermon
Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us commands and gospel truths about the relationship between husband and wife. This is very real and very relevant for all.
It is important to see that the primary focus of this text is on the relationship between Christ Jesus and his church. Before we think about what we need to DO in order to have great marriages, we should think about what we need to LOOK AT: the perfect marriage between the groom that is Christ and the bride that is the church. If we focus solely on the commands (wives are to respect the headship of their husbands; husbands are to love their wives and love them as their own bodies), then the mystery is gone.
Christ Jesus loves his church. He saved his church. He gave himself up for her. He sanctifies her. He cherishes her. Praise the Lord!
Husbands, love your wives like this. Love your wife as Christ loves the church. And use your headship and authority to love your wife and be a blessing for her spiritual well-being. This is a high calling and an honorable responsibility. God put you together so that you could love your wife as Christ loved the church.
Brothers, this is what your headship should look like.
Speak the gospel of Christ to your wife and remind her about the big picture… just as Christ does for his church. Encourage and assure your wife about the person and work of Jesus and have dialogue with her… just as Christ does for his church.
Listen attentively to her words from her heart and have concern about how she is doing… just as Christ does for his church. Talk to your wife with truth and love and pray for your wife… just as Christ does for his church.
Lead your wife through times of trials or testings and provide spiritual protection for her… just as Christ does for his church. Rejoice in your wife and take the time to tell her how beautiful she is… just as Christ does for his church.
Brothers, may the Lord give you grace and strength as you obey his word for the sake of his glory and for the sake of your wives. Keep the mystery. And keep it profound.
Questions for Discussion & Sharing
Christ Jesus loves his church. And the Bible describes this relationship as that of a husband and wife. In what ways might this profound mystery change the way that you look at our church? How does this text help you to better understand the amazing love that Jesus has for us?
Husbands are to use their headship and authority to love their wives and be a blessing for her spiritual well-being. In what ways does this truth change the way that you (both brothers and sisters) view headship and authority in marriage?
Dear husbands, take a moment to confess sin and recommit yourselves to loving your wives as Christ loves the church. What are some aspects of Christ’s love that you want to better reflect in your marriage?
Speaking the gospel of Christ to your wife and reminding her about the big picture
Encouraging and assuring your wife and having dialogue with her
Listening to your wife and praying for her
Leading your wife through tough times and providing spiritual protection for her
Rejoicing in your wife and taking the time to tell her how beautiful she is
Dear husbands, take a moment to be encouraged by the Lord and by your wives. And take time to pray and ask God for grace and strength to love your wives as Christ loves the church.