Fourth Sunday in Epiphany 2015
[Note: The audio recording of the sermon is here.]
Christian marriage is one of the ways the light of the gospel is displayed in the world. When we think of the task of evangelism, Christian marriage is not off topic. But the gospel should make us bold to lean into this glory not shy away from it. So we ask: How is Christian marriage a light to the world?
The Glory of Being Male & Female
Christian marriage is a light to the world by reveling in the gift of being created male and female in the image of God. Christian marriage originates in the doctrine of creation. In the beginning, God created everything, and then He created a man and a woman in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). This binary way of being human is part of the original “very good” of creation (Gen. 1:31). It was not good that man should be alone, male and female together are the glory of creation (Gen. 2:23). This is why we delight in our sons and daughters differently, and we teach them to delight in their respective glories. This is the foundation of preparing our children to find spouses and take up their callings.
The Glory of a Man with a Maiden
Christian marriage is a light to the world through the wonder of new love. “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes four which I do no understand: the way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a maiden” (Prov. 30:18-19). There is something unmistakably good and wonderful about new love. There are particular temptations in a community like ours that frequently seems like “courtship city” – you may think that it will be simple and easy because it looks like others have it simple and easy, you may think you are adverse to various temptations, or you may grow cynical when relationships don’t work out. But this is part of the light Jesus calls us to shine. Whether you are called to repent of your sins in this area or to rejoice in the joy of others, or whether you need to find out her name and ask her.
The Glory of a Christian Wedding
Christian marriage is a light to the world through the joyful celebration of solemn vows. We frequently mention that part of God’s blessing on Christian marriage is demonstrated by the first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana (Jn. 2:1-11). There, Jesus turned the Jewish purification water into a second round of the finest wine. This is what Jesus came to do: to manifest His glory like a fine wine: warm and dangerous. Our world has no category for joyful solemnity. We prefer informality, casualness, and irreverence, and we wonder why our words and promises mean less and less. A Christian wedding pictures the deadly seriousness of beauty and gladness and sexual love. This is not prudishness; this is deep joy of true glory.
The Glory of a Christian Home
Christian marriage is a light to the world through the creation of Christian homes. “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord… your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord…May you see your children’s children…” (Ps. 128). A home is not merely a place where you sleep and store your things. A Christian home is a place full of life, full of laughter and feasting around a table. It’s a place of hospitality and forgiveness and grace. Related, is the fact that every Christian marriage is the creation of a new home: a man leaves and a woman cleaves to her man (Gen. 2:24). They continue to honor the homes they have come from but a distinctly new home has come into existence.
The Glory of Finishing Well
Christian marriage is a light to the world by displaying God’s faithfulness all the way to the end of life and beyond. Paul says that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, and this is true from beginning to end, but perhaps most powerfully in the end. The promise of Jesus is that He will never leave us or forsake us (Mt. 28:20, Heb. 13:5). “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Ps. 92:13-15). Elderly faithfulness to marriage vows declares this truth like no other. “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
In a community like ours it can be particularly tempting to despair if you come from a broken marriage, or if you are not married and long to be, or if your marriage has been particularly hard and difficult. But you need to understand that there are no sinless marriages in this community, and there are no lucky marriages in this community. Christian marriage, if it shines at all, shines with the light of the gospel of Jesus. If you hear nothing else at all, hear this: the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us, and we have beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. We are the moon, and He is our Sun. If we shine, it is because His face shines on us through Jesus Christ.