God has designed marriage to primarily be a living picture of the gospel (see Ephesians 5:22-33 and read this free online book or buy it here). Marriage is not ultimately designed to be about us, our kids, or our world, but it is ultimately about Jesus Christ and His love for the Church (if that’s a foreign idea, seriously, read this now or listen to this sermon). Therefore, when we look at a marriage, God is teaching us about what He has done and is doing through His Son Jesus for the Church.
But how is marriage a picture of the gospel. In what ways has God designed marriage to be an acted out picture of His Son’s love for the Church? What does marriage preach? Here are four sermons that marriage preaches.
Jesus’ Immense Sacrifice to Obtain His Bride. Becoming a husband isn’t cheap. When a man desires to marry, he will (rightly) have to pay for it. He will be responsible to buy a ring and sacrifice to provide for all the needs of his bride (food, shelter, clothes, etc.). Wedding someone is costly business. In obtaining the Church, Jesus paid a costly sum. He did not cough up a few K for a nice diamond or put a hefty down payment on a new home, but He opened His veins for the Church’s salvation. He didn’t take from His resources to obtain the Church, He gave His life. Like Peter said, “You were ransomed…not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Sacrificing to obtain a bride pictures Christ’s sacrifice to obtain His Bride. Like a Good Husband, He went all out for His Love.
Jesus’ Faithful & Loving Work to Beautify His Bride. A good husband doesn’t simply work to provide for His wife, but He strives to make her more like Her Savior. He doesn’t just want her to be a good wife and mother, but he yearns for her to be a good worshiper who reflects the character of Christ. The husband who does this faithfully gives the world a picture of Jesus who works so that the church, “might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). Jesus ceaselessly works to build up His church up (Colossians 2:7) until she shines like the Bride she was destined to be (Revelation 21:1-2). After providing for the Church all she needs, Jesus tirelessly, faithfully, and lovingly works to make her become more beautiful. Jesus loves His Bride not because she is lovely, but to make her more lovely each day.
Jesus’ Loyal Love for His Bride. Husbands are never supposed to leave their wives. Although that sounds radical in a day of rampant and casual divorce, it’s a basic part of the gig. At the wedding, after the husband is asked:
Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep yourself only for her, so long as you both shall live?
The expected and obvious answer is, “I will,” and the expectation from there is that he lives up to his word. Husbands aren’t supposed to leave their wives. Why? Most ultimately, because Jesus will never leave His Bride. Just as a husband is to promise his loyal love through sickness and health until death does them part, Jesus has assured His Bride, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6). However, with Jesus, there is this flooring truth: He will never die again. So, when Jesus promises His Bride, “I will never leave you or forsake you and death will never do us part.”
Jesus’ Union With His Bride. This one is marvelous. So, when two people become married, God teaches us that they become one. They become one in heart, mind, desires, and purpose. Also, what they used to own as separate individuals, they now share together because, to repeat it, they are one. This pictures what happens when one turns to Jesus for salvation. The Scriptures teach that when someone puts their faith in Jesus they become one with Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). Through faith, the Christian life is lived “in Christ.” So, when a believer becomes one with Christ, all that was Jesus’ (His righteousness, His grace, His mercy, His truth, His salvation, etc.) becomes the possessions of the believer. Further, what was the believer’s (his sin, his failures, his judgment, his condemnation, his debts, etc.) becomes Christ’s. By the grace of God through the work of Christ, our sinful debt is swallowed up in the ocean of His righteous riches. In the gospel, the infinitely rich King chose to marry the stuck-in-debt peasant woman. His riches paid for her debt and its infinite overflow became her possession in full. What was His paid for her debt and all His riches became hers. Oh, how rich the Church is in Christ; more than she knows.
There’s more to say and meditate on for how marriage preaches, but those four sermons are more than enough for fruitful reflection. May God raise up marriage that preach these truths so that the world not only hear the gospel from our mouths, but also see glimpses of it in our marriages.