Text: Eph 5:21-33
Summary: Jesus is the Head of the Church – this means we must obey Him. Jesus is the Savior of the body – this means we must receive Him and all that He has for us. Jesus is our future Bridegroom – this means we must love Him.
We had a beautiful wedding for Jimmy and Jeralyn yesterday and I’m not sure who was the most joyful. Was it Jimmy? Jeralyn? Or, was it Peter? The best man. Just like the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is so overjoyed to bring all the attention to our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
Abba Father, We ask that you teach us even more about how profound the institution of marriage is. And how it’s a reflection and a pointer to true reality — Christ’s love for the Church and our love for Jesus. We pray that you unpack it even more during this time. We give you this time, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
I hope nothing that I say to you today will offend you because certain verses could be offensive to the husbands and certain verses could be offensive to the wives. I want to start in verse 21, that we are submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. And so the verses that apply to the wives predominantly, there’s still a huge application for the husbands. And the verses that apply to the husbands also have a huge application for the wives. So we have much to learn from one another.
I also want to remind us that marriage is only a pointer and a reflection. Because we make such a big deal of the wedding day. And there are months or even years of preparation. All for one day. But for the Christian, we know that we are preparing our whole lives to be wedded to Jesus, and that takes a lifetime of preparation.
Also, what I have to say, it applies to you if you have a good marriage. And I think a lot of the truth of Scripture will be more natural for both parties in a good marriage. What I have to say also applies if you are in a bad marriage. It won’t be easy, but you can learn the same lessons, even in a difficult marriage. This message is also for singles. So everything I’m about to say today applies to every single one of us in this room. Good marriage, bad marriage, singles.
I think there’s a temptation for singles after a wedding to be consumed with the idea of their own wedding day. Especially if you’re a romantic, you begin daydreaming about your wedding day. I was a romantic, and so for me, it was an issue. It was on my mind growing up and during courtship. It was a big deal in my mind. Now that I’m 20 years in, the wedding day is a big deal, but there’s a far bigger drama that is unfolding, and it is about Christ and His love for the Church.
In Jimmy and Jeralyn’s case, they prepared for their wedding for a few months to a year. In contrast, you will prepare over a lifetime to be ready to marry Jesus. And so, just even in terms of priority, we know where the priority is. It is about preparing ourselves for Jesus.
Let’s look at verses 32-33 first before I dive into the specifics.
32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Another way to translate the last verse is — she reveres or fears her husband. It’s the same word that is found in v21 — out of fear, reverence for Christ.
There is an attack from society and from the world on exactly everything that I just read in Scripture. There’s an attack. Satan is trying to rip apart the family. And how does he do it? He attacks the institution of marriage. He defiles it, and we have to understand that we are the bride of Christ. So everything that I’m saying applies to both husband and wife.
But there are particular challenges that husbands face and that wives face. And it is part of our fallen nature. And what a husband in particular have to overcome is learning how to love his wife as himself. Because husbands are good at loving themselves. Husbands are very good at taking care of themselves. Because when you’re hungry, you care for your body and feed it. When you’re injured, you take care of the injury. Husbands, we’re very good at taking care of our bodies. And some guys take it to the extreme and they’re in love with their bodies at the gym. And they stare at their bodies.
Husbands need to overcome what we saw in the Fall, namely Adam’s passivity. Because Adam didn’t love Eve as his own, they fell into sin. He just stands on the sideline. He doesn’t love her. He doesn’t protect her. He doesn’t preach the word to her. He just stands there — aloof, watching the whole Fall unfold.
And you see this pattern over and over in society. As soon as the wife gets pregnant, how many men leave? How many men leave even before the marriage has a chance? Many men are absent. It’s the fallenness of males in particular, that they are nowhere to be seen.
And even Christian men, we think our only duty is merely to work and to provide money. And we end up being so consumed with our careers, we’re never around. And even when we’re around, we’re stressed about the deadline at work. And we’re not present and when we are present, it’s not even a good kind of a presence. It’s with irritation and everybody’s on edge.
And so what Jesus is telling the husbands in particular is to learn how to embrace your wife, to be present with your wife, to care for your life, as Christ does His church.
On the other side, what do women in particular have to overcome? It is a heart that disrespects the husband. If you think about just even recent media, what are the examples of males in books and in the entertainment? One is Homer Simpson. This loser of a guy. He’s encouraging a whole generation of women to disrespect their husbands. Because why would you respect a husband who acts like Homer?
Another example is Berenstein Bears. And we thought this book series contained good lessons for the kids. And we gave our kids the Berenstein Bears books to read. But did you notice that the mom, she is always cleaning up the messes made by this bumbling fool of a husband?
And the most recent example? Thor. Thor was this incredibly masculine demigod. Very much-shi-suh (Korean word for cool, awesome). The last image of Thor that we get is a guy with a potbelly. And he’s an alcoholic. You have to know that there is an agenda. Satan has an agenda. He’s making men so disrespectful in the eyes of this generation so that women just naturally will think, our husbands are fools and walk all over them.
Jesus, He is not only the Head of the Church, He’s also the Savior of the body. And He is the Bridegroom to the future Bride. And in each of these titles, we see that marriage is going to teach us how to relate with Jesus through husbands relating to their wives a certain way, and wives relating to their husbands a certain way. We’re supposed to learn through marriage. When marriage is functioning correctly, you’re supposed to learn — how am I as a believer supposed to relate to Jesus?
He is the Head of the Church and we are under the Head. How many pastors, and I made this mistake as well, how many pastors give themselves the title of Head Pastor, Lead Pastor? Who is the Head of the Church? Who is the Leader of the Church? Is it the pastor? No, it’s Jesus. And church leaders run all these programs in the church. Did they ask Jesus, should I do this ministry? Should I continue this ministry? Should I stop this ministry? Do they ask? Because if you have a boss, you won’t just do things. You will ask your boss before doing things.
So if Jesus is our Head, it’s an issue of obedience. Jesus is the Boss. Whatever Jesus says goes. That should be how churches are run. Also, on a personal level, before you make decisions, before you do life, do you consult your Head? We are the body of Christ. We’re arms and legs and fingers and toes. And it would be weird if our body just started to act out in opposition to what our head wanted to do. We would call that a disease. If our body is acting in conflict of what our head desires, we would call that epilepsy, a seizure. It’s like the body is moving while our head wants it to stop. We call that demonization when our body is actng in a certain way independent from what your head wants.
And Jesus is the Head of the Church. That means we submit to Jesus. That means we obey Jesus. And that’s why it says in v24, Now as the church submits to Christ… A better translation is subject to Christ. The church is subject to Christ, under Christ. He is the king. We are His subjects.
In the same manner, wives should submit to their husbands in everything. And we as as earthly husbands, as sinful husbands, as imperfect husbands, we admit that we’re not like Jesus. We don’t get everything right. And yet, Jesus says, for the wives, submit to your husband in everything. And that’s supposed to teach both the husband and the wife, how do we interact with Jesus who is our Head, who is perfect, who never gets it wrong? We submit to Jesus everything. In all matters, in all details of life, we obey Jesus. If you live that way, then you truly believe Jesus is your Head and you are the body.
Also. Jesus is the Savior of the body and this speaks to v25.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
So Jesus as the Savior of the body means He gave Himself up for us. He died on a cross for us. And not only does He save us, but He also delivers us. Not only does He deliver us, He preserves us. Not only does He preserve us, He sanctifies us, He cherishes us, He nourishes us. This is what it means that Jesus is the Savior of His body.
And so what is our response to Jesus being our Savior. Simply, you just go to Him. You receive all that He has for you. You don’t do life on your own and think, I was saved years ago. Now I’m going to do life on my own. No. Jesus saves you, He walks with you. And if you stay attached to Him, the Head, He will nourish you. He will sanctify you. He will build you up. He will encourage you. And in the end, you’ll become just like Him. That is the destiny for every Christian.
Certain marriages, you see a husband and wife, and this does not apply to Jimmy and Jeralyn, but sometimes, you see husband and wife, and you realize love is blind. And this usually applies to the woman. And she is marrying a balding, overweight guy. And we think, this is just an odd couple.
And we might think the gap between us and Jesus is so great. And it is in the beginning. But imagine that you’re saved and you do not change and you’re not sanctified — when you see Him, you will feel out of place. You’ll feel like this is such an odd pairing. God is so merciful. He will still accept you. But you’ll feel ashamed in that moment. He’s so glorious and I am so unworthy.
The promise of the Christian life is that the gap closes and you become more and more like Jesus. And so when you’re in His presence, we feel so lucky, yes. But Jesus, when He looks at us as a beautiful, spotless Bride, sanctified by Him over over the course of our lifetime, you will not feel so out of place. You and Jesus will not seem like such an odd couple because Jesus has completed His work in your life. So we just have to receive all that Jesus has for us because He wants to sanctify us.
And lastly, Jesus is our future Bridegroom. And that means we just have to love Him. And so we’re learning all of these incredible truths through the institution of marriage. A husband loving his wife as his own body. Not retreating from his wife, not being too busy for the wife, not just throwing money at the wife and the kids and just doing their own thing. Not retreating to a man cave, not shutting down emotionally. No, as a husband, you go to your wife and you take initiative. You go after your wife. This is what Christ does for His church. He goes after us, He pursues us. And when you see a godly husband doing life the right way, he is present. He’s engaged. He does not shut down. When there’s conflict, he engages.
And when a wife is respecting and revering her husband properly, and maybe in the beginning of the marriage, it’s not completely warranted. Because I think about Jackie and I, 20 years ago, we were so different. And if you ask Jackie or I — who was the lucky one? — I don’t know what answer would come out 20 years ago. We were so different back then, so unsanctified. But the reason why I can honestly say, I am the lucky one today is because I see how God has changed Jackie over the 20 years of marriage.
A wife who respects her husband, who builds up her husband, you’re giving a chance for that husband to grow into the role of spiritual head of the family. If you’re the kind of wife who society heralds as their model, an ultra-feminist, a woman who disrespects all men and thinks she is the boss of her husband and she nags her husband. Do you think acting that way will cause your husband to rise to the occasion and be Jesus to you?
See, there is a wisdom in God, how He paired us. And there are things that husbands have to overcome — our selfishness, our passivity. And there are things that women have to overcome — their disrespect. And if you each party overcomes, we’re learning from one another. Out of our reverence for Christ, we’re learning from one another.
So what I’m saying doesn’t just apply to men only because women can also shut down emotionally. Women can also retreat. Men can also be critical and harsh and disrespectful. So what I’m saying applies to both husbands and wives. But when a marriage is functioning properly, we’re learning from the man and we’re learning from the woman how Jesus wants His bride to interact with Him? It is obedience in everything because He is the Head. It is receiving Christ on a moment by moment basis — His sanctification, His nourishment, His cherishing of you. He loves you. He died for you. He cherishes you. And Jesus wants you to receive Him and believe in Him.
And the way a husband loves his wife and the way a wife loves her husband. Jesus wants that kind of love. The way that Jimmy looked at Jeralyn yesterday and the way Jeralyn looked at Jimmy, Jesus wants you to look at Him the same way. Jesus is jealous. He wants you to look at Him. He is so jealous. He wants all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. And so a couple in love is a reflection of what Jesus wants. He wants you to love Him, not just obey Him as a servant. Yes, that has its place. Not just to receive all that He has for you. He wants you to give your heart to Him. He wants your heart. He wants you to look at Him the way that husband looks at his bride and a bride looks at her bridegroom. He wants you for Himself.
All of life is a preparation for that romance. Earthly marriage may last 50+ years. This divine romance with Jesus will have no end. It will be for eternity. And Jesus is not only our Head. He’s also Savior of His body. And He is our future Bridegroom.
Lord, we understand that Satan is brainwashing this generation so that husbands feel emasculated in front of this generation. Husbands feel like we can’t do anything right and we’re afraid of offending women. And women are being brainwashed to be so disrespectful. And Lord, we’re learning the wrong way to interact with you.
Lord, you want absolute reverence as the Head. We are under you. We are subject to you in everything. Forgive us for doing life so independently, for just having urges and just following them, for just making decisions on our own. We’ve lived life as if we are the head, not you. Forgive us, Lord.
Also, we underestimate how much you are the Savior of the body and how we just have to receive from you. But we can’t receive unless we go to you. We’re so busy and we don’t go to the Source of Life. We don’t go for the Savior, the lover of our souls. We don’t go to you for sanctification and we don’t change. We’re so busy. Help us to return to you. You’re the savior of the body.
And ultimately, you are our future Bridegroom. Help us to fall in love with you. Because if we don’t love you, then we’ve missed the essence of the Christian journey. We want to love you better. Teach us through marriage. Teach us through a good marriage. Teach us through a bad marriage. Even as singles, we can learn these things. We don’t need to go through marriage to learn because marriage is just a reflection, it’s just a pointer to Christ and His Church. We don’t even actually need to be married to receive this message.
I pray that you would prepare our hearts as we want to meet you in a very personal, intimate way as we come to the Lord’s Table. We remember your blood that was shed for us and your body that was broken for us. You did this to save us. We are the body of Christ. You’re the Savior of the body.
And this is not a one time event in the past. This is a daily, present, moment by moment sanctifying of the body, a nourishing of the body, a cherishing of the body. Help us to receive this finished work from you, Lord Jesus, today. All of life we understand now more clearly is a preparation for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. As we sang yesterday, give me Jesus. That is our hearts cry. Our heart cries out — Give Us Jesus. We don’t need the world. We need you, Lord Jesus. Meet us Lord in a personal way in this moment. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen