The Greater Mystery of Marriage

This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Ephesians 5:33

A young boy listened intently during “the Children’s Sermon,” as the pastor spoke of Eve being born from the rib of Adam.  That evening, when called for supper, he told his parents that he did not feel well – his side hurt.  He told them, “I think I’m going to have a wife.”

Two passages in the Bible which seem to become more and more remarkable each time I have worked on them are the marriage section in Ephesians 5:21-33 and its reference point, Genesis 2:21-24.  In verses 30-32, St Paul not only refers to the creation history of Eve [Genesis 2:22-24]: “For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bone”, he then quotes from it, “’For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”

It is St Paul’s following comment which turns everything on its ear: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”  In this little statement he takes the account of the creation of marriage from the beginning of the Bible and declares that it is not just the story of Adam and Eve, but also the story of the second Adam and His wife, the Church.  St John also echoes the idea: just as Eve was born from the side of Adam, when Jesus was pierced on the Cross and out came Blood and Water, from His side the Church and its faith was born through the Sacraments of Communion and Baptism.

The stated purpose for the creation of the Eve in Genesis 2, “It is not good that the man be alone, I will make a helper fitting for him” – under the umbrella of Paul’s declaration, this also applies to the Second Adam, Jesus, and His Helper, His Bride, the Church.  Its impact becomes particularly pronounced when we consider how the Last Day is described in Revelation and elsewhere as the Marriage Feast of the Lamb – Jesus – and the Church.

It is a staggering thought to consider that the Father is calling us as the helper fitting for Jesus in a role which will begin in earnest on the Last Day – note, it begins in earnest on the Last Day!  We will be the helper which Jesus needs – chooses to need – for all eternity!  Whatever Jesus will be doing for all eternity, we will be by His side as His helper.  We often are aware of how much we need His help, but to even remotely think that He looks to us as His essential helper throughout eternity is overwhelming.

After all, we will be the Bride of the King of the Universe.  Just as Jesus did not return to heaven to merely retire, neither will we.  Listen to what Paul says in the first chapter of Ephesians:

…according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.  And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things for the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all. [vv 19-23]

Daniel says that His will be an everlasting Kingdom [Daniel 1:21]; and in Colossians 1[:16-18], Paul again identifies the sweep of this Kingdom:

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  He is the Head of the Body, the Church, Who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

This is by no means merely about this universe, but about realms and dominions which extend into all which God has throughout eternity.  On the Last Day, Paul says that we will be taken by the King and “made [to] sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” [Ephesians 2:5], which earlier in Ephesians is described as at God’s “right hand in the heavenly places” [1:20].  There we are as the Bride of the King, the Queen of heaven, “the Helper fitting for Him,” involved with His rule over all things to His Glory.

The Roman Catholic Church tells us that Mary, Jesus’ mother, is exclusively the Queen of heaven, while the Mormon church thinks that the wife(s) of Jesus are exclusively women like Mary Magdalene and the sisters, Mary and Martha.  But throughout the Bible, the wife of the King of the universe, seated by His side throughout eternity will be His People, the Church from all ages – namely, you and me.

I have often thought of this position in terms of what will we be doing, and I suspect that we really will be kept busy.  Perhaps the painter will no longer have a static canvas but a world in which to constantly produce beauty, and so on with the many other gifts and talents in which we can dabble in this world.  After all, I do not believe that these wonderful expressions of the creativity of God are to be thrown away once when we enter heaven.

All the costs spent for the marketing of women viagra online has no such cost. You can simply contact us instantly if you have a teenage child who is just starting to drive, you should not only know how to manoeuvre the car but you should also be aware of the rules I’ve followed while building Saves the Rainforest The recent popularity of the acai berry actually killed cancer cells in laboratory tests! Of course there’s a lot of research to be done before anyone can say if the acai berry is a cure for cancer, but the study was certainly an eye opener to the amazing healing abilities of the acai berry. He said that it was really hard for him to sustain or attain erection sufficient for pleasurable intimacy. It is no wonder that heaven is really never described to us.  There is no possible way in which we could imagine what Jesus will be doing throughout eternity, how then could what we will be doing be described in an understandable way?  No, I don’t believe that we will be merely sitting around polishing our halos and tuning up our harps (or flutes, if you are Irish).  And I suspect that we will not be spending that much time merely standing in the choir (probably to the relief of those who would be around me).  No, I suspect that we will be very active and very busy.

An interesting connection relates to the idea of pruning.  At first, the thought is that this is merely the removal of dead sticks and suckers from the growing plants.  However, should you observe an orchard grower or vineyard owner, you might be horrified by what seems to be a lot of healthy growth being left in a mound as he prunes plant by plant.  Often in regard to the elderly, the same puzzle arises: people who had such productive lives, able to do so much even for the Lord, see the encroaching loss of ability – eyes, ears, dexterity, mobility and even mental loss.

No, the royalty God speaks of is not based upon what you can do, but what you are.  The owner of the vineyard / orchard of our lives is more concerned in the quality of the plant.  That’s why the “fruit of the spirit” in Galatians 5 is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” [vv 22-23] – not as a series of deeds, but rather as the outgrowth of the new God-nature given to us in Baptism.  He wants us to be royalty, not just do royal things, and if He has to strip away all the things which can distract us, then He will.

Truly all these things are such nice words.  They can really make you feel good to know that we have such distinction before all the universe for all eternity.  Who wouldn’t want to hear this?  And yet what should nag at us is that we certainly are not models of Godly nobility – sometimes very far from it, not only in how we conduct our day, but also in what we are like on the inside.

Even though we may wear a good mask on the outside, if we were to occupy such an exalted throne, we probably would not want to be servants under us.  We know too much of our hearts and too much of the secrets we keep hidden from everyone else.  We know the thoughts, the fears, the guilts, the emptinesses which envelope our lives.  How could God maintain the idea of having such a high future for us when we know we really make pretty lousy helpers fitting for Jesus’ rule?

Despite as to how well-meaning we may start out, too often even the little power which we have right now results is some pretty big messes.  Sometimes in innocence and naivete we have made choices which can ruin so much of our lives, much less those of others.  How could we ever sit by Jesus’ side – not for a while but for forever?

We need a change.  Paul tells the Romans “be transformed by the renewal of your minds” [12:2]; “repentance” in the Bible means “to turn the mind around.”  How can we do this?  St Peter in the Gospel [John 6:60-69] reminds us of the only way – if we are to be seated by Jesus, then we have to go to Jesus, because “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  But these words are not simply knowledge – this is the Word Himself made flesh [John 1:14]; this is the Word by Whom all things were created [Psalm 33:6]; the Word Who accomplished everything He was set out to do [Isaiah 55:11] – particularly for His Bride, us; the Word of Life [I John 1:1] Who stands among us today [Matthew 18:20].

This is the Word Who had been pointed to whenever Joshua, or Yeshua, or Jesus was pronounced, declaring that “Jehovah saves.” This is a Word Who did not hesitate to take upon Himself wrath, agony, hatred, ridicule, abuse, and even death for the ones who would become His Bride, His Helper. This is the Word Who did not sing about love, nor merely talk about love, nor describe emotion about love, but rather did love, even “till death do us part,” and then returned from the dead to bring Life to His Beloved.

He did this in order to change your mind – to change your perspectives on God, yourself and others; to change your values as to what Life is all about; to change your attitudes about your relationship with your Lord for eternity.  And just to make sure you get the picture, the Word has gone forth again, to be found (as Luther put it) connected to Bread and Wine, thereby making these simple elements into again the most powerful expression of Love and forgiveness which God could ever give to us.  The King has come today to share in the intimacy of His very nature, He has come “in the Flesh” and “in the Blood” to make all He is to course through your veins.

The beginning of eternity and the end of the final book of the Bible, Revelation [22:17], declare, “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’  Let him who hears say, ‘Come!’  And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the Water of Life freely.”  Come, repent of your failings and inadequacies – put them into His hands.  Be done with the past, what you were and what you did.  Come and discover how the Word made flesh can indeed transform you and renew your mind.  Come and see how He will change your values, priorities, perspectives, goals and so much more.

Come follow His way and discover what it means to become “the Helper fitting for the Man – the Second Adam,” and how you will indeed reign by Jesus’ side forever.

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