As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33 NLT)
Paul wrote that the marriage between one man and one woman illustrates how Christ and his church are one.
The flip side is also true. The manner in which Christ relates to his people, and his people relate to him, should be the way a husband and wife interact with each other.
No, I don’t mean the wife worships her husband; but it’s similar in meaning. Respect is the word Paul uses. Respect or reverence. To be in awe of. In awe of what? The husband’s physique? Hardly. No, the wife should be in awe of her husband’s love and sacrifice – the essence of marriage.
Just as the church is in awe of Jesus’ love and sacrifice – the very act which brought us into oneness with God.
I’ll explain it this way. Since the husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loves the church, he should express that love in similar ways. And as he does, the wife should respond to his love in a way akin to how the church responds to Jesus’ demonstrated love.
For instance, a number of things Jesus says to his church would be appropriate for a husband to declare to his wife. Phrases like:
“My banner over you is love.”
“I’ll never leave you or forsake you.”
“No one can pluck you out of my hand (protective covering).”
“Ask in my name.” (Everything the husband can do, so can the wife with her husband’s name.)
“For your sake I lay down my life.”
“You are my glorious, spotless bride. Where I am, you shall be also.”
Get the idea? And, in response to the husband’s love, the wife would say…
“You’ve told me you’d never leave me or forsake me. Therefore, I will not fear. I will not be afraid.”
“You are my savior (protector, provider, and pursuer).”
Notice this verse:
“For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 5:23 NLT) Christ is the Savior of his body, therefore the husband is to be the “savior” of his wife.
I realize it’s hard to comprehend. But getting just a glimpse of the truth Paul referred to as a “great mystery” could help the relationship between a husband and wife; and just may help the church understand the Lord’s great love for his body.
After all, Jesus says to his own, “I’m your protector, provider, and pursuer. I’ll never leave you or forsake you. And no one shall tear you from my hand.”
It’s no wonder God hates divorce.
“For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” (Malachi 2:16 NLT)
Marriage is God’s example of his extravagant, inexhaustible love for his people. Jesus took it a step farther by demonstrating Father’s love for man, and how a husband and wife should treat each other.
A great mystery, but one the Lord greatly wants us to understand.
The mystery of love and sacrifice – the essence of marriage.