Lord, unite our hearts with You in the fellowship of lovingkindness. Amen.
Text: Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. He left everything all for the sake of His Church and gave them His whole heart, forgot His divine glory, the heavenly host, all creation and came to us, became Man and offered Himself into death to win for Himself a bride. In Baptism He sets her apart from the world, cleanses and adorns her with His garment of holiness, the true bridal gown, which is fitting for her at His side before the face of God the Father, and in the Holy Supper He comes near to her with His Body and Blood. The Church comes from Him as Eve came from Adam, who is of his flesh and bone, and lives and grows in union with him. So He wins her undivided love. He tolerates no rival in her affections. He must have her completely. And so the Church is in an indissoluble, eternal, holy marriage covenant with the Lord. He does it and she is already completely washed clean by Him. Therefore the Apostle speaks of the Church’s holiness as already perfect.
Now the Christian marriage between man and woman is not just a picture of this mystery, but a fruit of it. True marriage has its origin in Christ’s union with the Church. How else could the Apostle speak of these two unions as one thing, as he does in our text? The union of the Lord with sanctified mankind is the deep, eternal idea of union from which all true human unions spring forth, and in every respect marriage is the foremost of these.
But what encouragement and exhortation there is in this, that the Christian union of man and woman is of this nature. A husband should love his wife with Christ’s unselfish and self-giving love and help her to be sanctified. He should carry her in his heart with Christ’s gentleness and meekness. And he should keep her there, not with impure lust or wicked jealousy, but with unselfish love, as he wants his wife to have happiness in her heart. And the wife should confidently and gladly entrust herself to her husband, respect him for Christ’s sake, despite his human frailties, be his faithful helper, and “with the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1Pe 3:4) she should make the house a peaceful home, her husband’s favorite place on earth. The task is great, but the reward is glorious. Let no one who believes in Christ give up! You live at home with Him. He is your Husband, who nourishes and strengthens you by His life.
Yes, precious Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your great grace! Give us the gift of the Spirit to believe, and make us alive and holy in You. Amen.
Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus,
Can my heartfelt longing still;
Lo, I pledge myself to Jesus,
What He wills, alone to will,
For my heart, which He hath filled,
Ever cries: “Lord, as Thou wilt.”
One there is for whom I’m living,
Whom I love most tenderly;
Unto Jesus I am giving,
What in love He gave to me.
Jesus’ blood hides all my guilt;
Lord, O lead me as Thou wilt.
What to me may seem a treasure,
But displeasing is to Thee,
O remove such harmful pleasure;
Give instead what profits me.
Let my heart by Thee be stilled,
Make me Thine, Lord, as Thou wilt.
Ludämilie Elisabeth: Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus L 81:1-3 ELH 379:1-3 tr. A. Crull;
tune: Jesus, Jesus, nichts als Jesus