September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”—Ephesians 5:32 (NLT)
Don’t you just love a good mystery? Neil Armstrong once said, “Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” For me, the key to a great mystery is that it needs to have a truly great payoff. The reveal of the mystery needs to blow my mind. In fact, I’d say the reveal needs to be as satisfying as the build up is captivating. Otherwise, you’re going to be let down—I’m looking at you, Lost!
In today’s passage, the apostle Paul speaks of the great mystery. The word great is the Greek word megas. It means the greatest, largest, most important, most majestic, and superior. So, what is the mega mystery Paul is telling us about? Well, in Ephesians 5:31, he quotes Genesis 2:24, where it talks about how a man and his wife cease to be two and become one, united, together . . . one body, one heart. Paul is showing us that marriage is a living word picture designed by God to point to our union with Christ through the gospel!
Isn’t that an amazing thought? Theologian Charles Ellicott once wrote, “The indissoluble and paramount sacredness of marriage, as all history shows, is ‘a mystery—a secret of God’s law, fully revealed in Christ alone.”
The gospel thus elevates the sacredness and purpose of marriage as it reflects the beautiful union we have with Christ. This should cause us to look at marriage in a new light, to see our marriages as more than just a human relationship—it’s more than a partnership, more than companionship, more than an earthly bond or institution. Marriage is above all a beautiful parable and living metaphor for the relationship between Jesus Christ and us as individuals as well as His bride, the Church!
Now, here’s the thing about this mystery: It makes no sense to those who are not in Christ. They don’t understand it because they haven’t experienced it . . . . they haven’t experienced Him! The Greek word for mystery (mustérion) actually speaks of a secret of which initiation is necessary; something hidden that must be revealed. Within your marriage, it is your sacred privilege to help people see this mystery revealed . . . to see the glory of Christ reflected in your relationship.
In light of this, in light of knowing that my marriage is a reflection of Christ and the Church to the watching world, as a husband this should drive me to always seek to love my bride the way Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her. This should drive wives to come alongside their husbands, respecting his authority out of obedience to God, as he himself submits to Christ and follows the example of Christ.
The understanding of this mystery should also daily remind us that we are united with Christ (Romans 6:5; 1 Corinthians 6:17) and that He actually desires deep intimacy and relationship with us.
Pause: Consider how your marriage is currently reflecting the message of the gospel.
Practice: For the next week, make it a point to pray together at least once a day. Before you start, ask one another how you can pray for them. When you pray, pray specifically for your marriage and for one another’s prayer requests.
Pray: Jesus, thank You that You created the sacred institution of marriage to reflect Your glory and for also making it this beautiful, fulfilling, enjoyable, life-giving, and necessary human relationship. Thank You for drawing husbands and wives together as You draw us to Yourself. I pray the Christian marriages around me would reflect Your goodness, grace, and love to the watching world in such a way that it would spark revival in communities. I pray husbands would take seriously the charge to love and serve their wives the way You love Your Church. I pray wives would in turn live on mission and go to battle with their husbands as they lead their families as You call them to. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.