February 5, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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What’s the secret to a healthy and happy marriage? In part two of Relationships and the Gospel, we’ll examine what happens when Jesus is at the center of a marriage, how the gospel transforms this important relationship, and how we’re called to live and love in light of it.
In this section, we’ll give a brief overview of the topic and some key talking points to consider and reflect on before you dive into the discussion.
Memory Verse of the Week: Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
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.” The key to a great mystery is that it needs to have a truly great payoff. The reveal of the mystery needs to blow your mind. In fact, the reveal needs to be as satisfying as the buildup is captivating. Otherwise, you’re going to be let down.
In Ephesians 5, 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? It’s marriage! But not just marriage in and of itself . . .
In Ephesians 5:31, Paul 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. He’s showing us that marriage is a living word picture designed by God to point to the union humanity can have with Christ through the gospel!
Isn’t that an amazing thought? John Piper once wrote, “Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to His redeemed people, the Church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and His Church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream.”
The gospel thus elevates the sacredness and purpose of the marriage relationship as it reflects the beautiful union we have with Christ. This should cause us to look at marriage in a new light, to see marriage as more than just a human relationship—it’s more than a partnership, more than companionship, more than a contract, 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 been united with Christ!
The Greek word for mystery (mustérion) actually speaks of a secret of which initiation is necessary; something hidden that must be revealed. “God joins a husband and wife into a one-flesh union. God does that. The world does not know this, which is one of the reasons marriage is treated so casually” (John Piper).
If you’re married, it’s your sacred privilege to help people see this mystery revealed . . . to see the glory of Christ reflected in your relationship. If you’re not yet married, this is how you should think about and approach marriage in the future. Not with an individualistic, “what can I get out of this,” casual attitude, but with an understanding that God is displaying His glory and the grace of His Son Jesus toward sinners to bring us into a loving, unbreakable, covenant relationship with Him through it!
Below, you’ll find some key discussion questions to personally reflect on and/or discuss in your small group, with your family, or in your circle of friends.
Discussion Question 1: Why does Paul theologically tie human marriage to the relationship between Christ and His Church? What parallels do you see that make marriage a living picture of the gospel?
Discussion Question 2: What do some things in our culture (e.g., movies, TV shows, music, friends, family, coworkers, etc.) say about marriage? How does it differ from what the Bible tells us about marriage?
Discussion Question 3: What sustains a healthy marriage?
Discussion Question 4: How does marriage, being a picture of Christ and the Church, speak to the roles of a husband and wife?
Discussion Question 5: The understanding of this mystery should 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. How does knowing this impact your relationship with Him?
If you’re married, pray with and for your spouse at least once per day this week. And pray for the marriages around you—your friends, coworkers, those in your community, your pastors, etc.
If you’re single, pray 1) for the Lord’s will to be done in this area of your life, 2) pray for the potential future spouse the Lord has for you, and 3) pray for the marriages around you!
In part three, we’ll examine how the gospel impacts our parenting and family relationships!
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.