The Two Shall Become One
Lord God, strengthen our weak hands, help us to hold on to Jesus, for we know that in our own strength we cannot do what you have called us to do in our marriages. Strengthen our feeble knees for prayer and standing on Your word as it concerns this institution that You love. Lord we pray with the blind man of Jericho, “”that we may receive sight,” Open our eyes to the permanence of marriage, that we may bring glory and praise to Your holy name, In Jesus name, Amen.
Honest, I am not in charge of the pericope. But here we are again, the subject of marriage thrust upon us again in this portion of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. This permanence of marriage things is clinging to us tighter than the odor of a Friday night fish fry in a local pub.
Obviously the matter of Christian marriage is close to the heart of God and few places in Scripture deal with it more eloquently than this letter to the Ephesians.
V22- The first word that strikes us in this passage is “submit.” We can't deny it ladies, we can't explain it away in the Greek. The word means to be subordinate to. Lest there be any mistake about the degree of subordination, the Holy Spirit writes “as to the Lord.” That means as the Lord is on the throne of your life so shall your husband be on the throne in your union.
If you're not submitting to your husband, then you're likely lax in submission to the Lord. A woman who picks and chooses areas of submission to the Lord, will pick and choose her areas of submission to her husband, and this is asking for trouble.
Just as you should not think of refusing to submit to the Lord, so it should be unthinkable that you would refuse to submit to your husband.
And just as our submission to the Lord is unconditional, so should your submission be to your husband. In other words, don't buy into the argument that you will submit to him if and only when he starts to love you.
Now, something else that should be noted in this passage. Why does the Holy Spirit use the phrase, “your OWN husbands?” Why not just “your husband?” The answer of course speaks to the permanence of marriage. The “one man, one woman” concept of marriage that has been there from the beginning. This is your own husband, and he will always be your husband, till death do you part.
V23 - Why must you submit? Because the husband IS the head of the wife. Not could be should be, but IS. Just as sure as Christ is the head of the individuals who make up His church.
And even at the end of this verse we begin to see the responsibility of the husband. “he is the Savior of the body,” Christ saved the body by giving up His life for it, and so the husband must be willing to “give” it up for his wife.
V24 - Therefore….because Christ gave it up for His bride, so the man must “give” it up for his wife. It is this “giving it up” this love that prompts the church to gladly be subject to Christ, and when a man understands this and begins to “give it up” for his wife, it opens the door of subjection to him in everything. Notice the word “let” here. It means to allow. Men, in taking on the role of Savior, (giving it up for your wife) you allow her, you enable her to be subject to you in everything.
25 - Husbands play the role of Savior to your wife. Give yourself up for her!
V26-27, - The reason Christ gave it up was that He might cleanse his bride through baptism, and keep her cleansed through the power of His Word. It's His body, it should be so cherished.
V28 - Just as Christ loves His own Body, and by Body we mean all believers who have been organically united with Him through faith and baptism, so a man ought to love his own wife because she too has been organically united with him in the marriage vow.
And there's that phrase “own” again, only this time it is husbands “own wives” again a clear indication of “one man, one woman” the permanence of marriage.
Husbands, and wives, everything that you do in your body, soul, and spirit, is done to your mate's body, soul, and spirit. These are inseparable until death do you part.
V29 - More instructions for the husband. Nourish and cherish your wife, just as Christ nourishes and cherishes you.
The idea of nourishing here is to give your wife every opportunity to grow and mature in her God-given role. Give her every opportunity to exercise her spiritual gifts and the roles in which God has placed her. What does that look like? Turn to Prov 31:10 -31
So much for nourishing. What about cherishing your wife? What does that look like? The word means “brood.” It's the idea of a bird over her young ones. Your wife needs emotional warmth and security. Hug her, touch her, be gentle to her.
Stop treating her like a vase from Walmart and start treating her like a Ming vas!
V30 - Fact. We are part of the Lord's flesh and bones. He is not some spirit up in heaven. He still maintains His deity and humanity and thru faith and baptism we are joined to His body in a physical way. And we participate in that joining every time we come to the Lord's table. “This IS My Body!”
V31 - The kicker. The unmistakeable point of the permanence of marriage. The marriage vow, the marriage ceremony Produces just as sure a union of man and wife as faith and baptism produce a union with Christ.
The marriage therefore is to be a reflection of this union to the world. It is a picture of the relationship of Christ to His church. The man nurturing and cherishing, the woman submitting to.
Just as Christ will never divorce us. Always willing to forgive us, so we must be with each other as we demonstrate His faithfulness to the world.
32 - this union with Christ, and subsequent union of man and wife into one flesh is a mystery. It is unexplainable by all standards of physics, but it is nonetheless a realty in the eyes of God.
V33- nevertheless, (even though this is an unexplainable mystery, and even though marriage is just a picture of this mystical union of Jesus and the church, we are charged here with keeping the picture intact.
We have an explainable part to do. Our part is to keep the union together. The husband does his part by loving his own wife as his own body (laying it down for her) because she is his own body. And the wife is to respect her husband as if he were the head of her body….because he is the head of this body that came to existence in marriage. (v23)
But what do we do when marriages fail and divorce occurs? The same thing we do with every other sin in the body of Christ. We confess it, receive God's forgiveness and repent of it.
If at all possible, (if remarriage hasn't occurred, we seek reconciliation.) If reconciliation isn't possible due to remarriage of one of the spouses, then we assume the role of remaining single and serving the Lord in that capacity. And if we have remarried, then we seek to make our marriage the best possible model of Christ's relationship to the church from this day forth.
And we do this because, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be JOINED to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Marriage is a mysterious joining of the flesh, soul, and spirit of two people. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder……(tear apart!)
But if you do, remember there is forgiveness at the cross, there is forgiveness at the Lord's table come and receive it. Be set free from all guilt concerning your failed marriage, and come to receive forgiveness and freedom from all your current failures in your present marriage.
Let's face it men, how many of us really nourish and cherish our wives? We need forgiveness and we need His strength to become nourishing and cherishing. Wives, let's face it. How many of you perfectly submit to your husband? You likewise need God's forgiveness and strength to be the submitted and respectful wife He wants to show off to the world.
If your spouse is here this morning turn to them now. Husbands ask your wife to forgive you for not being as nourishing and as cherishing as you should be. Wives ask your husband's to forgive you for not being as submissive as you should be, and both of you ask God to forgive you for not modeling the marriage He wants you to model to a world who needs to see it, so they may desire it with Jesus.