“The Bride of Christ”
22“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 31FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
So it often happens that in marriage one mate considers himself or herself perfect and seeks to perfect his or her mate. But of course, in this world, there are no perfect mates. Except when it comes to Christ and his bride the Church. We, as the bride of Christ, have a perfect husband who cares for us and is devoted to us, and to whom we owe unfaltering allegiance.
So we consider the church as the Bride of Christ, and how this should influence the way we think about ourselves and about Jesus as our spiritual husband.
I. Christ Our Husband and His Love For His Bride!
Now the Book of Ephesians does not use the actual term, “bride of Christ.” In fact, I don’t think that the phrase is found anywhere in the Bible, Old or New Testament. However, the concept is clearly in the Book of Ephesians as well as other passages of Scripture. When Paul states in Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” and when he states in verse 32 “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church,” it is clear that there is a relationship that it exists between Jesus and those whom He has redeemed that falls under the concept of marriage; the relationship between a husband and his wife.
When John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the “Bridegroom” in John 3:29, and when the Apostle John speaks of the “marriage of the lamb” and the “marriage supper of the lamb” in Revelation 18:23; 19:7, 21:2, 9; 22:17, it is clear that Jesus is the Bridegroom (the husband) and as such He has a “bride” which is the Church! Many commentators believe that the Song of Solomon, besides being an account of a bridegroom and his bride, is a story of Christ and His bride, Church.
What can we learn from this imagery?
A. We learn something about the extent of the love of Christ for His people!
Ephesians 5:25 25“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…”
It is the love of a husband for his bride that is describe here, and not just any husband. It is the love of Jesus, our spiritual husband, that is here described for us! It is to be instructive to men as husbands in their marriages. They are to take their cue from Jesus! They are to observe how Jesus loves His bride, and then in turn love their brides in like manner! In verse 32 Paul says, 32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
Not only do we pattern our relationship to one another as husbands and wives by that which we see in the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church, but also in some mysterious way our marriages are meant to reflect something of the beauty and glory of the relationship of Jesus and His bride!
The love of Jesus for His bride is unique! It is selfless and sacrificial in nature! It is broad and expansive in nature! Never has husband loved as Christ loves His bride, and you and I (men and women) are together His bride! His love for His bride is inexhaustible, and immeasurable. When Paul prays for the Ephesian Church He prays chapter 3:17-19, 17“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
No one can plumet its depth, no one can span its width, no one can attain to its heights, its breadth is beyond comprehension! It is an infinite love! It’s extent of His love is seen in the magnitude of the sacrifice that He made when He laid down His life for His bride; when, as Paul says, He “gave Himself up for her!” The extent of His love is seen in the price that He paid to redeem her; He “gave Himself up for her.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 18“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
And the extent of His love for His bride is displayed against the backdrop of the unlovely nature of His bride in her sinful and ungodly condition. Romans 5:8-10 states, 8“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
So the extent of His love for His bride is demonstrated by His selfless sacrifice of Himself for her! And you are His bride! This is how He loves you!
B. We learn something about the expression of the love of Christ for His people!
Ephesians 5:26-29 26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church..”
Christ’s love for His bride is not just feelings and emotions, although the Scripture tells us that on many occasions He was moved with compassion at the plight of His people! It is emotion, it is feelings, but more than that it is also actions! John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” Here we learn in Ephesians 5 that the love of Jesus for His bride moves Him to act on her behalf, to sacrifice Himself for her and to 1) provide for her, and to 2) cherish her.
1. He Provides for Her!
He not only provides for his salvation, but He is also concerned for her sanctification! He is concerned for her spiritual health and growth! As a loving husband He nourishes His bride! He provides for her all that she needs to grow and mature in His love. He supplies her with every necessity! He supplies her with a never-ending reservoir of grace. He feeds her at His table, He supplies her with His word. Verses 26-27 state, “…having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
He gives her shepherds to care for her soul, etc. This is why the Apostle Paul can say in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” And in verse 19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
His loves is expressed practically in His provision for her and in that…
2. He Cherishes Her!
He treats her tenderly and carefully! She knows that she is treasured in His eyes!
Illustration: What do you do with your prized treasure? Coin collection, etc.
Application: This is what you should think about when you hear that we are the “Bride of Christ,” that Christ is our husband! It should remind you of the extent of His love for you, and the many expressions of His love for you. You and I are the bride! You are not the bride by yourself, but together we are the bride of Christ and the special object of His love!
Now also, this imagery should help us to know how we ought to relate to Christ as His bride, as a bride to her husband.
II. The Church, Christ’s Bride: Devoted to Her Husband! Vss 22-24
22“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
A. The Pledge of Obedience!
These verses maintain that there is an order in marriage between husband and wife. The husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head of His bride, the Church. The wife is willingly and voluntarily and lovingly place herself underneath the headship of her husband!
As Christ’s bride we are subject to His headship, we are under His authority! Unlike human husbands His authority is absolute and as His bride we owe Him an absolute and unquestioning obedience! Of course, this cannot be the case with human husbands for they are sinners and they may ask their wives to do something which God forbids and forbid them to do something which God commands! In such cases wives must obey God rather than men!
But Jesus is the one and only perfect husband who can in all cases be trusted without question! He loves us perfectly and 1 John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love casts out all fear,” and verse 19 tells us that “we love because He first loved us.” Our love for Him, as our husband, should be one of faith and obedience. You and I, as the Bride of Christ, are to be “subject” to Him. Literally, we are to “arrange ourselves under His command.” Illustration: “dress right dress”
His thoughts and attitudes are to ours! It should be our desire to be the glory of our Bridegroom, reflecting His majesty!
The more you focus on His love for you as His bride, the more ready you will be to obey Him! Secondly, our duty is to pursue a…
B. The Pledge of Purity! Verse 27
27“that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
As He is seeking to purify us, it should be our desire to be pure! It is our duty to pursue holiness! He gave Himself up for us so that He might sanctify us! The more you focus on His love for you as His bride, the easier it will be to keep yourself pure.
C. The Pledge of Fidelity!
His love for us is a pure and jealous love! In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul writes, 2”For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”
We owe Him single-hearted devotion in response to His love for us as His bride. The love between husband and wife is an exclusive love. Christ is to have our whole-hearted and undivided devotion.
The more you focus on the love of Christ for you as His bride, the easier it will be to be faithful and devoted to Him.
There is a sense in which you might consider your membership vows as though they are marriage vows to your spiritual husband.
- Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
- Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
- Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
- Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
- Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
Conclusion: So then being lavished with the love of Christ the bridegroom, the bride revels and basks in that love and responding in love for her husband, the Church obeys His loving commands, seeks to be pure in all her ways, and faithful to Him alone, forsaking all others. Until He comes again for His bride, perfected and made ready to dwell with Him in a Heavenly home for all eternity! Revelation 21:9-10 9“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…”