nullPentecost 14 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
Isaiah 29:11-19, Ephesians 5:22-33, Mark 7:1-13
August 26, 2018

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Do you ever get that rebellious feeling when everyone is going the wrong direction and they are telling you that you have to do it too?  Don’t you just want to stand up for yourself and go against the flow?  When the crowd is all telling you that you need to do this and act like this and believe this, it just makes you want to dig in your heels and rebel against what everyone else is doing.

One of the greatest rebellions you can have today against what everyone else is doing is to practice Christian marriage.  Christian marriage is rebellion against the culture because Christian marriage holds intimacy to be valuable and important.  Christian marriage recognizes that man and woman are different.  Christian marriage celebrates the differences and rejoices that man and woman are made for each other.  Christian marriage celebrates that man and woman are uniquely designed for one another to complete each other and complement each other.  In a selfie world, Christian marriage is not about me, but about we.

God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him and then He formed Eve from a piece of Adam’s side.  Adam and Eve were once one, and then they became two.  In their union they again become one.  What was separated into male and female is reunited in the marriage union.  Ephesians 5:31 (ESV) 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[1]

Two become one.  One plus one equals one.  This is a profound mystery.  And not only is the marriage union a profound mystery in itself, this uniting of a man and a woman is a picture of the joining together of Christ and the Church.  You, as a baptized child of God, are a part of the body of Christ, the Church.  As the Church, you are one in Christ; one with Christ.  The Church is the Bride of Christ.  Christ is the bridegroom.  We, as the Church, are the Bride of Christ waiting for the great marriage feast of the Lamb in the heavenly city of New Jerusalem.

As a part of the Church, the bride of Christ, you are united with Christ right now and nowhere is that more evident than in our gathering together on Sunday morning to hear Jesus’ words of forgiveness, sing praises and thanksgiving, and receive the flesh and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.  Gathered here together each week you see how Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)  25 …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.[2]

You gather here each week to have Christ once again sanctify you, cleanse you, wash you, so you can be presented in splendor without spot or wrinkle; holy and without blemish.  Jesus does this through His sacrificial love shown when He gave Himself for you on the cross at Calvary.  Jesus suffered and died for you.  Jesus put your needs before His comfort.  Jesus puts saving you in front of saving Himself.  Jesus’ mission is to protect you and save you because you are His beloved creation.  This is how much Jesus loves you.

This is the model for how a husband should love his wife.  A husband should love with sacrificial love, putting his wife’s needs before his own comfort and desires, always seeking to cherish his wife with love and care and protection.  A husband is ready to give his life to save her life.  A husband is charged to love his wife like Christ loves the Church.  Now, it is impossible to perfectly love like Jesus, but that is the calling; the goal, that is what a husband strives to do.  The fact that you will not achieve it perfectly should never be used as an excuse to not continue to try.

I had a friend on Facebook who posted a picture of a wedding where the bride was instructed to wash the groom’s feet to show her submission to her husband.  The young lady who posted this asked what people thought about this practice, which I had not heard of before.  I responded to her that they had the practice backwards.  The man is supposed to love his wife like Christ loved the Church.  The church did not wash Jesus’ feet; Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.

A man’s role as husband is one of loving and cherishing and caring and protecting.  Women want this.  A husbands needs to find his role as the loving, cherishing, caring, protector in the marriage and then live it out.

A woman’s role in marriage is one of voluntary submission into her husband’s care, and finding and fulfilling her place in the marriage; her niche.  She finds what she is given to do and does it.  Not out of compulsion, but out of loving devotion to her husband.  A woman’s role is to respect, appreciate and admire her husband.  Men want this.

We see here in Ephesians how there is a difference between men and women. Men and women are made for each other.  It shows a beautiful union of two very different yet complementary creatures.  In premarital preparation I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t want a man who is strong and supportive and will be there for her when things are rough in order to comfort and reassure and let her know, “We are going to get through this.”

            Marriage is a profound mystery; it is a lifelong joining together of a man and a woman.  Marriage is not just two people who love each other who agree to stay together as long as they feel like it.  Marriage is the union of a man and a woman in a permanent bond, to, God-willing, create new life.  Love in a marriage is not a feeling because feelings will change; feelings will come and go.  Marital love is a verb; it is a choice; it is a promise; it is a commitment.  It is not a feeling, it is an action.

Now, these verses from Ephesians 5 have, at times, been misconstrued to somehow make the husband the boss and his wife the servant.  That is incorrect.  The husband is the head with Christ as His model for a headship of love, care and protection.  The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife as Christ does the Church.  There is nothing here about power and authority.

Marriage is a profound mystery; it is a lifelong joining together of a man and a woman.  Marriage is not just two people who love each other who agree to stay together as long as they feel like it.  Marriage is the union of a man and a woman in a permanent bond, to, God-willing, create new life.  Love in a marriage is not a feeling because feelings will change; feelings will come and go.  Marital love is a verb; it is a choice; it is a promise; it is a commitment.  It is not a feeling, it is an action.

You prepare for and support Christian marriage from the time you are a child and you learn how to treat other people with love and respect and learn to control your desire for intimacy in a God-pleasing way.  Because when you abuse the gift of intimacy and treat it as a relatively meaningless act that can be shared with anyone as long as they consent, you do great damage to marriage.  Intimacy outside of marriage takes this profoundly mysterious union of a man and a woman and profanes it; turns it into something less; sometimes just a hook up.  The intimate union of a man and a woman is part of marriage; it consummates the union; it is a marriage promise made with your body.  When someone has multiple intimate partners it damages their future marriage because their established pattern is to be intimate with many people instead of entering into the marriage covenant with one.

The union of a man and a woman in marriage is a profound mystery.  For two sinful humans to unite themselves in this union demonstrates a great trust in God and the power of forgiveness.  There is a lot of forgiveness needed in marriage.  Forgiveness from God and forgiveness from each other.  Some of the most powerful words in marriage are, “Honey, I’m sorry.” And “I forgive you.”

Learn to forgive each other as Christ has forgiven you.  Jesus completely forgives you and no longer holds your sin against you.  In marriage, practice complete Biblical forgiveness.  Forgive your husband’s sins and no longer hold them against him.  Forgive your wife’s sins and don’t hold on to them.  No more bringing up old troubles when discussing current issues.  No more holding grudges for old sins.  No more keeping score of who has done what.

The lifelong union of a man and woman is a profound mystery.  It is a lifelong journey of commitment, love and respect.  It is not easy.  It is better to not get married than to marry someone who is not committed to living out Christian marriage in union with you.  Christian marriage is not easy, but a good Christian marriage can be one of the most fulfilling, powerful things in your life when modeled after the union of Christ and the Church.  It is indeed a profound mystery; the joining together of two very different creatures into a union of love and respect designed by God.  So be a rebel against society.  Practice Christian marriage with love and respect.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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