It was a beautiful Saturday morning in June almost 10 years ago that I woke up as an unmarried man for the last time. Growing up in the valley, I usually spent the summer complaining about the weather, but honestly, I can’t tell you if it was hot that day. If it was I didn’t notice. What I can tell you about are the little moments from that day that are burned into my memory in such a way that I will never forget them. Waiting alone for the ceremony to begin, I stand there straightening my white bow tie nearly 100 times. Standing at the front of the church as my bride finally appears at the end of the aisle. As she walks toward me, my eyes do not leave hers for even a second. Finally the ceremony ends, we kiss, head back down the aisle, and stand together in a small room, alone for the first time as husband and wife, both of us overcome with a feeling we had never experienced. This truly was a day we would never forget.
If you are married or have been married, it is likely my memories will resonate with you. How can that be? This was a special day for just Laura and me. Yes, but in reality, our wedding was no different than anyone else’s. But there is something special about marriage we all recognize, especially on our own wedding day, that perhaps we forget about later on in life. We recognize that marriage is a big deal, something sacred, something that deserves honor and commitment. What we may not realize as we stand at the altar is that marriage is bigger than we could ever imagine.
In his letter to Ephesians, the Apostle Paul says that marriage is a profound mystery. (Ephesians 5:32) In the New Testament, the word “mystery” does not mean that something is a secret or that it is not known. Rather, a mystery is something once veiled (not understood) that has now been brought to light through Christ. Marriage is a mystery in that it is an institution that has been practiced since the beginning of mankind, and yet the true meaning behind marriage was not fully understood until Jesus entered into the picture. Paul quotes from Genesis 2 saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The union of husband and wife is revealed to be a divine picture of Christ and His church. (Ephesians 5:32)
What exactly does this mean? It means that a man and women coming together in a loving, committed relationship is a picture for the world of Christ’s love and commitment for His church — His bride. A marriage can be tough at time and each spouse must be willing to make sacrifices and love one another unconditionally. Similarly, Jesus loves His bride to the extent that He gave His very life for her. Jesus sacrifices Himself for his bride, cleansing her, and preparing her for the ultimate consummation of His love: the wedding feast. “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7) This is what we long for as the Bride of Christ, we long to be with our Savior and to sit at His table in eternal glory. Feasting and enjoying the presence of God. “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9)
How then should we view marriage and love in light of this revealed mystery? We should honor marriage and see it as a holy institution of God. We must not allow the fickle ideas of the world enter in, telling us we can simply move from marriage to marriage because we aren’t “in love” anymore. We must not think we can receive the benefits of marriage without the commitment. It has sadly become the norm to “try it on before you buy it” and people are giving themselves away sexually (sometimes to multiple partners) without the slightest feeling of remorse, because “that’s just what you do now.” We’ve denigrated these wonderful gifts of God into common filth. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (Hebrews 13:4)
The problem is that in some instances we have recognized marriage as good and holy and at other times we are seemingly forgetful. This Valentine’s Day, I encourage to consider love and marriage in light of God’s word. You’ve experienced the feelings of love, you’ve recognized the big deal that marriage is, now see how love and marriage have always been God’s way of pointing you to something even bigger. Love and marriage are a visual, a marker to give us a greater understanding of what it meant for Christ to die on the cross for His bride, the church. I believe when we understand these truths, our earthly marriages will be more joyous than ever before because we see that our love is only the beginning, only a picture of the ultimate fulfillment of love that awaits those who are in Christ. This mystery is indeed profound and we wait for its fulfillment with eager expectation.
P.S. Laura, my bride, I love you! Happy Valentine’s Day!
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ