Ephesians 5:24-33 NKJV
24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 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.
God often uses the things we’re familiar with to help us understand something we’re less familiar with. In the historic Gospel for today (John 16:16-23), Jesus used the illustration of a woman in labor to help His disciples understand the joy that awaited them after a little while of pain and suffering. The pain is temporary; the joy is lasting and well worth the pain that must first be endured.
Likewise, Jesus and John the Baptist both used people’s familiarity with earthly marriage to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the Church. Christ is the Bridegroom; the Church is His beloved Bride.
But St. Paul turns things around in today’s lesson. He takes the Christian’s familiarity with Christ and the Church and uses it to teach Christians about marriage and how God would have Christian husbands and wives view one another and treat one another. This is necessary, because sin has so corrupted humanity’s view of the roles of men and women that a non-Christian can scarcely comprehend God’s beautiful design any longer. But if we are first brought by the Holy Spirit to know and trust in the Lord Christ, then husbands and wives have a solid basis for living together as God intended.
The Church recognizes Christ as her Head and submits to Him as her Lord. It could hardly be the other way around! So Christian wives are to view their Christian husbands and submit to them, not as slaves to their masters, but as dear Christians submit to our dear Lord Jesus.
Meanwhile, Christ loved the Church so much that He gave everything for her to make her His own, even shedding His own blood for her and providing the baptismal washing that makes her clean and beautiful in God’s sight. So Christian husbands are to think of and treat their Christian wives, as beloved extensions of their own bodies, with sacrificial love that knows no bounds. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help us to know You rightly that we may also view marriage rightly, so that husbands and wives may live together as You intended. Amen.