‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ Ephesians 5:25–27
A husband loves his wife with a constant love, and so does Christ his church. He will not cast her away tomorrow having loved her today. He does not vary in his affection. He may change in his display of affection, but the affection itself is still the same. A husband loves his wife with an enduring love; it never will die out: he says, ‘Till death us do part will I cherish thee;’ but Christ will not even let death part his love to his people. Nothing ‘shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ A husband loves his wife with a hearty love, with a love that is true and intense. It is not mere lip-service. He does not merely speak, but he acts; he is ready to provide for her wants; he will defend her character; he will vindicate her honour, because his heart is set upon her. It is not merely with the eye that he delights now and then to glance upon her, but his soul has her continually in his remembrance: she has a mansion in his heart from whence she can never be cast away. She has become a portion of himself; she is a member of his body, she is part of his flesh and of his bones; and so is the church to Christ for ever, an eternal spouse. He says, ‘Forget thee, I will not, I cannot …’ This church is only a church of Christ, because he has made her so. She had no right or title to his affection; he loved her because he chose to do so, and having once loved her, he never will divorce her: she shall be his, world without end.
For meditation: The institution of marriage has been marred by divorce and human hardness of heart (Matthew 19:3–9); but it was designed both to depict the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31–32) and to follow the example of that relationship (Ephesians 5:23–25).
Sermon no. 628
7 May (1865)