TEXT: EPHESIANS 5
I AM SPEAKING ABOUT CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Scripture begins and ends with marriage!  Genesis records the beautiful, naked, shameless love of Adam and Eve.  They were literally made for each other!  Revelation records the beautiful, intimate, eternal love of the Lamb and His Bride – the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God - radiant like a most rare jewel…

All along the way between that first couple and the eternal union of Christ and His Bride, the Church, husbands and wives are given and taken in marriage as are you, Keaton and Rebekah, today.  All along the way, Christ’s Bride, the Church anticipates the final consummation of His Second Coming – “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).”  All along the way, the Bridegroom Himself comes to His Bride gathered in weekly worship with a foretaste of that eternal banquet, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).  The Divine Service is a foretaste of heaven – heaven meets earth as the risen Christ is present to love and serve His Bride!

TEXT: EPHESIANS 5
I AM SPEAKING ABOUT CHRIST AND HIS BRIDE
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Scripture begins and ends with marriage!  Genesis records the beautiful, naked, shameless love of Adam and Eve.  They were literally made for each other!  Revelation records the beautiful, intimate, eternal love of the Lamb and His Bride – the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God - radiant like a most rare jewel…

All along the way between that first couple and the eternal union of Christ and His Bride, the Church, husbands and wives are given and taken in marriage as are you, Keaton and Rebekah, today.  All along the way, Christ’s Bride, the Church anticipates the final consummation of His Second Coming – “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).”  All along the way, the Bridegroom Himself comes to His Bride gathered in weekly worship with a foretaste of that eternal banquet, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).  The Divine Service is a foretaste of heaven – heaven meets earth as the risen Christ is present to love and serve His Bride!

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

In Ephesians five, the Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to picture the mystery of Christ and His Bride by God’s good gift of marriage on earth.  Did you notice that He caused St. Paul to write considerably more about the husband’s duty to his wife than her duty to him?  Did you notice the profound center of all Scripture to which the Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to link the love a husband is to give his wife?  Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… 

Good heavens, how can this be?  Keaton, what have you gotten yourself into?  Christ’s incarnate love for His Bride is the miracle of the ages!  While the wife’s submission in Ephesians five is often the object of scorn and joking in our culture, rightly understood, the self-sacrificing love commanded of the husband is every bit as off-putting to human nature.  Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…  His was also a naked love – but not shameless as in Eden.  His love for His Bride was sacrificial and shameful and sin-bearing and steadfast and saving to an infinite degree.  Husbands – love like that – with love that is sacrificial and serving and forgiving and steadfast.  “Wife – I’m not here to tell you what to do to get what I want.  I’m here to serve you.”  It is no longer my life and your life, but our life together.  I’m here to count you better than myself and put your interests before my own until death parts us.  Keaton – that is what you have gotten yourself into!

A few years ago an author in our circles wrote a book on marriage.  The title for his third chapter was – It’s Always The Man’s Fault!  If my love for Barbara is to be measured against the love of Christ – Keaton if your love for Rebekah is to be measured against the love of Christ – and it is – It’s Always The Man’s Fault!  Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom is gentle and pure in heart!  He humbled Himself putting His Bride’s needs above all else!  When He was spoken against He responded not in kind!  He is all knowing – perceiving the thoughts and intentions of the heart!  He never fails to listen to His Bride.  With that perfect knowledge He is the perfect giver of perfect gifts!  He never fails in interceding in prayer for His Bride!  He is long-suffering!  His steadfast love endures forever!  He said, “with this cross I Thee Wed.”  Fresh from the grave spoke the peace of His absolution to an idolatrous, deserting, denying Bride.  His love keeps coming and coming and loving and loving and forgiving and forgiving…

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  Husbands, in seeking to give such love remember the mystery that is present.  Christ’s love for you is so profoundly great that He baptized you into His death (Romans 6:3-4), clothing you with Himself (Galatians 3:27), according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).  Husbands, you are so fine to Him!  Sinners that you are – you are holy and blameless before Him!  This mystery is profound and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Wives, no husband can love to the fullness of Christ.  God doesn’t call you to rate your husband’s love and then respond to the degree that you feel is merited.  Rather let the wife see that she respects her husband.  That respect in Ephesians five is largely expressed in a word translated “submit.”  Perhaps a better rendering is “subordinate”.  It is a military term!  It implies no inequality!  Wives be subordinate to your own husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body and is himself its Savior. 

This wifely subordination has led to all manner of claims that Christianity seeks to subjugate women to a lesser role than men.  The sacrificial love God orders husbands to give their wives gives the lie to such thinking.  Under Islamic rule, a husband has every right to treat his wife as property and she has no rights at all.  In Hindu, India women may disfigured or killed for showing affection to the wrong man.  Under the headship of Christ, such evil has no place in His gift of marriage.  Wives are to be placed first and loved sacrificially.  Their orders are also clear - Wives be subordinate to your own husbands as to the Lord.

This term implies absolutely no inferiority!  Jesus who is equal with the Father subordinated Himself to the Father in His vocation as our Redeemer (Luke 2:51; 1 Corinthians 15:27-28).  This term rather has to with how one lines up in order to do battle in life.  The Son of God willingly lined up His life with the Father’s will to do battle for us.  Wives in their vocation are willingly to order their lives in respect to their husbands in their vocation. 

Good heavens, how can this be?  Rebekah, what have you gotten yourself into?  Consider Jesus’ submission.  At the beginning, with total concern for the Father’s will Jesus lined up dripping wet in the Jordan River – standing shoulder to shoulder with us sinners – ordering His life for service and for sacrifice.  At the end, dripping bloody sweat in the garden, Jesus begged for relief from drinking the cup placed before Him.  Yet, He ordered His life under the Father’s will.  That’s subordination within the Godhead!  Wives, submit like that – as an equal with your husband, but in your vocation according to his vocation under the will of God.  Wives, be subordinate to your own husbands as to the Lord. 

In fully understanding the subordination of the church to Christ (and therefore of wives to husbands) it important to note that church’s primary relationship to Christ is not one of law (obedience) but rather one of Gospel (receiving)!  As the Church primarily receives salvation from Christ so the wife cherishes her husband’s self-sacrifice for her and orders her life to receive the love He gives.  “Husband, I’m not here to tell you what to do and to find fault with you and to nag you.  I’m here to receive your love for me with respect for you and to order my life alongside yours.  It is no longer my life and your life but our life together.  I’m here to count you better than myself and put your interests before my own until death parts us.  Rebekah, that’s what you’ve gotten yourself into. 

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  Wives, in seeking to order your life, remember the basis for the gift that you are to your husband.  Christ’s love for you is so profoundly great that He baptized you into His death (Romans 6:3-4), clothing you with Himself (Galatians 3:27).  The white robe of baptism is pictured here as a wedding gown.  Wives, you are so beautiful to Him!  Sinners that you are – you are holy and blameless before Him!  This mystery is profound and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  

So Keaton and Rebekah – have at it!  Today you are sure that your love for one another is a big one.  Wedding days are like that and they should be!  But there will come days when you are not so sure just how big your love is!  In no other arena of life do two sinners come so close to the faults of one another as to be one flesh!

As a single person our selfishness is highly disguised because we need to look after our self.  But when we are given a spouse whom we are to serve 24/7 in the role God has given us, signs of self-centeredness pop up all over the place.  Self-pity and self-promotion and self-justification ooze from our pores.  Note what happened when Adam sinned!  Rather than man-up and admit his sin Adam threw Eve under the bus and said to God, “It was the woman you gave to be with me.”  Husbands have been throwing their wives under the bus ever since!  Rather than serve Eve he blamed her – who likewise tried to pass the blame. 

The beautiful love of Eden was shattered and their shame now needed covering up.  Their natural love and service for one another was gone.  Instead the Lord proclaimed that Eve would desire to control her husband and Adam would seek to rule over her instead of caring for her.  Selfishness wants to control, not serve.  It wants to talk when the other is too tired to listen.  It does not want to listen when the other needs to talk.  It views the sexual gifts of marriage primarily as a way of getting rather than giving!  It wants its way in all things.  It will not admit the serious nature of its sin!  It sees the faults of the spouse in being faithful to God’s order for marriage rather than its own wrong and shortcomings.

Keaton, in battling your own heart curved in on itself your own resources will fail you.  Rebekah in battling your own heart curved in on itself, your own resources will fail you!  You will constantly need the resources of the one absolutely reliable love!  You see, in every Christian marriage the bigger love encloses the lesser love!  God’s love does not set itself limits!  That’s why your vows today are rightly without limits or reservation! 

You have been given staggering gifts by Jesus Christ!  There is royal confidence in Him who has forgiven each of you and taken you on.  In the deepest sense “It is always the Man’s fault.”  -  the man of whom Pilate said on Good Friday “Behold the Man!”  He bears all your sin!  He clothes you in His righteousness! 

Now He has given you to each other until death parts you. The bigger love – His love – is so big that even if His Second Coming is set for five-o-clock this afternoon it could mean no loss for you.  Rather it would mean enlargement of love – with equal love for everyone as first family in His eternal presence.  But the final consummation may not be for another week or another year or another century.

In the meantime order yourself for the battle under the headship of Jesus Christ!  Love grows in substance not so much by looking into each other’s eyes but by travelling the hills and valleys of life together.  As He draws you closer to Himself you will be drawn closer to each other! 

He did His first sign at the wedding in Cana – tuning water into fine wine in abundance!  At this wedding He comes speaking wine into His blood that yet remains wine with His forgiveness in abundance!  At this feast the Bridegroom gives His Bride a staggering gift of love through which He continues to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing – but holy and without blemish.

This mystery is profound and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  In His Name, Amen.  

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen. 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a