LSB Series B, Proper 22
Marriage has been in the news lately. From attacks on the definition of marriage and the sanctity of marriage to whether or not Jesus had a wife, the news has had a fair amount of discussions to cover. The propers for today center on this special gift from God and the ongoing relationship that our God has with us in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Note: A new document has surface from the fourth century claiming that Jesus had a wife. Many people and groups over the years have claimed that Jesus had a wife or at least a girlfriend. Not so long ago, Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code made such a claim. The Bible tells us that Jesus has a bride. That bride is the church. She has been united to Christ–Jesus is her head. Consistently the Scriptures refer to this blessed union. This union continues today and even on to eternity. Many documents have surfaced over the years that have claimed outrageous facts about Jesus or His disciples. Their existence does not prove their authority. We believe that the Scriptures were “breathed out by God and useful for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Scriptures give us a clear picture of our God as He has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the great Bridegroom. We’ll see throughout our study of the lectionary Christ’s unending love for His everlasting bride.
Holy Gospel Reading: Mark 10:2-16
 [2] And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” [3] He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” [4] They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” [5] And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. [6] But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ [7] ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, [8] and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. [9] What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
[10] And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. [11] And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, [12] and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
[13] And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. [14] But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. [15] Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” [16] And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Do you know anyone who has been affected by divorce? Do you know anyone who has been affected by marriage? It is an honest question. We probably all know someone who has been divorced or we ourselves have felt the effects of divorce in our own lives. It is just that we don’t think of marriage as having affected us. Moses had allowed a man to divorce his wife, but he didn’t want to. (First of all, who is Moses and why is he brought up here? Moses was an Old Testament prophet who led the people of Israel out of the land of slavery in Egypt and into the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. He had allowed the people to divorce because of their hardness of heart.) It wasn’t the plan that God had in mind…marriage was to be forever. Adam and Eve were not ever going to divorce, but would enjoy the Garden of Eden forever.
What is sin? Why weren’t Adam and Eve going to have to worry about divorce or even death? God had made that union and designed it to be perfect. Woman was taken out of man and the two were joined in wedded union. They were given the Garden and in it, the Tree of Life. God intended for them to have dominion over the creation and to eat from the Tree of Life and live. He intended it to be the way it would be for every couple. In marriage, they would be joined together and together they would be in wedded bliss forever. Enter another tree: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. With Satan’s slippery lies and Eve beguiled, life in the Garden of Eden and the perfect union began to crumble. Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden and sin and death began to rule and change the world.
Moses had given God’s holy Law to the people. (Where did he do that? Mount Sinai) The sixth commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery.” (How many commandments are there? 10) We remember from our Small Catechism what this means: “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do and husband and wife love and honor each other.” Jesus wants us to know that marriage is a serious thing and that His Father in heaven is the one who joins the man and the woman together in marriage. It is God’s act and can’t be defined by human beings in our times and situations. Marriage was created to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in order that through that union, we might see Christ and His union to the church. (See also Ephesians 5:22 and following.)
So in marriage God is at work in our lives. He creates this and sustains it for our benefit. He blesses the family through the marriage of the father and mother. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). For us, living after the Fall, even our closest relationships, even our marriages and the marriages of our parents, are tainted by sin. But as part of Christ’s holy bride, the Church, we have the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ blood, to cleanse us of our sins and to lead us to forgive one another. Just as God made marriage at the beginning to be good, God takes our damaged or broken marriages and creates them anew by Jesus’ gifts of repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus bids us see His relationship with the Church. He is the eternal bridegroom and she the eternal bride. He restores what God meant in the Garden of Eden. A new paradise is made in the crucifixion of our Lord. It is there that He is joined to her and she to Him. By His life, she is given new life again and so this marriage will last forever. She eats from the tree that is His cross and as she eats, she is given life. She is forgiven of sin and given salvation in Him. God sees Jesus’ perfect righteousness when He looks at the Church. She is his forever.
Discussion questions:
1. How does the marriage of our parents affect us?
2. What is adultery?
3. Why are we called to be faithful to one wife or one husband?
Prayer: “O Lord God, at the creation of Adam and Eve You instituted and blessed marriage as the union of a man and a woman and commanded that it be held in honor by all. Grant Your blessings to all married couples that their life together may be blessed with wisdom, purity, self-sacrifice and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Published October 2012