Ephesians 5:31-33 - 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The gospel is understandable and relatable to any person, but several times in his letters, Paul uses the word “mystery” to describe it. This is not only because it will take eternity to explore the depths of the gospel’s implications but also because much of the Messiah’s (Christ’s) coming was unforeseen - even by those who in the Old Testament writings pointed forward to him. A great example of this is when Moses wrote the passage on marriage that Paul quotes above (Gen. 2:24); he had no idea he was also talking about the gospel (v.31-32). I love the way N.T. Wright explains it:
"In Genesis, even before human rebellion had tainted the world in general, and the relation between the sexes in particular, [Paul] sees a glimmer of God’s ultimate intention in creation. The man—the Messiah—will leave the place where he was at home, and go in search of a bride."
And I would add, the Messiah would not only search for his bride but also he would find her, die for her, and join himself to her forever. Amazing!
Now think of this: the “however” in verse 33 is a clarifier - yes, Paul is talking about Christ and the Church (his bride), but also husbands and wives. Both marriage and the gospel are meant to point to each other, and for marriage to truly reflect the beauty of the gospel, the wife must submit to her husband out of a respectful heart (v.25,33) and husband must love his wife as his own flesh (v.33).
• For married couples, how does it feel to know your relationship is designed to reflect God’s relationship to us?
• For married or unmarried men and women, this teaches us that sexual intimacy is reserved for one man and one woman for one lifetime (v.32). How does this beautiful gospel picture affect your view of your sexual purity?
• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for sending Christ to rescue us, his bride.