[Nov 05]--The Bride: Beautiful, But Not As Much As She Will Be

Eph. 5:25-33

In trying to understand Scripture, what we need to realize that there are two patterns which we see over and over and over. When we see metaphors and similes, they fall into one of two categories. The first type is “arguing from lesser to greater,” and the other is “arguing from greater to lesser.”

Let me give an illustration from the lesser to the greater. When Jesus was encouraging us to come boldly to our Father in prayer, he pointed out how earthly, sin-touched parents act. Basically he reminded them “You fathers, although you’re still sinners (like everyone else), still provide your children with what they need, right? If your child comes to you and asks for a piece of bread, will you give him a rock to eat? So if you, as imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give his children what they need?” See how Jesus is arguing from the lesser (earthly parents) to the greater (God)?

But in today’s reading we see an argument from the greater to the lesser. See how he goes from describing how Christ treats his Church and uses that as a model for husbands to love their wives and to explain exactly how to love them. The reason I’m bringing this up? Because Paul is a practical theologian. He’s not telling us how Christ treats the Church in order to fill our heads with information. He expects that theological truth to change our behavior. The main point here is not to tell us about Christ and the Church. The main point here is to tell us how husbands should treat their wives.

But having said that, there’s a lot of truth he reveals about Christ and the Church. What does this passage tell us about it?

He gave himself up for her. Obviously this mostly is referring to dying for her on the Cross, but it also entails the little and not so little sacrifices he made up to that point. His death on the Cross was just the final consummation of that self-sacrifice he freely offered.

• Why did he give himself up for her? In order to cleanse her and make her holy (set apart). This cleansing was both once-and-for-all on Calvary, but it’s also a process. He’s in the process of removing sin from his Bride, which won’t be completed until. . .

• . . . he finally presents her to himself, and at that point in eternity she will be--not just on the books but truly and really be—completely cleansed of her filth and wrinkles and blemishes and anything else that would detract from her beauty.

Let’s camp on that for just a moment. I remember the first moment I saw my bride in her wedding dress just before the ceremony. I completely believed she was the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen in all my days. And she’s only grown in beauty since then. On the day when the Church is presented to the Bridegroom, she will only have eyes for him. But here’s a poignant thought: He will only have eyes for her.

• In the meantime, what else is he doing? He’s nourishing and caring for her. Why? Because they're one flesh. Remember from a couple of days ago what we learned from Saul’s encounter? What hurts the Savior hurts his Bride. What hurts the Bride hurts her Savior. How stupid would it be for me to stick a knife in my arm and just blow it off by saying “Oh, it’s just my arm. It’s not like it’s the rest of my body or anything. I can get along without it. I mean, I’ve got two, right?”

So does this tell you anything about Jesus’ view of the Church? We’ll get into the practical lessons for husbands next year when we get into Ephesians. For today, however, I want us to take one main application from this.

I want you to take just a moment and think about how Jesus views you. If you’re saved, then you’re part of this. Wow.

Lord Jesus, that’s really the only word I can use here. Wow. That, and “I’m yours.”

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