A Great Mystery

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery…

Ephesians 5:31-32, NLT

I think it’s safe to say that most of us enjoy a good wedding. Some are drawn to the rekindling of social connections, others to the anticipated menu for the day. For some, the main appeal is the fanfare, the flowers, or the music. Last weekend, my wife & I were blessed to participate in our friend’s big day. While we had the privilege of enjoying all those festive dynamics, what moved me most was the evidence of a genuine relationship built on self-giving love. No, it wasn’t just their sweet love story that got me teared up. It was a man and a woman willfully committing to live not for oneself but for the other. That’s a good wedding. Repeated day by day over a lifetime? Now that’s a good marriage and, according to Paul, a great mystery (Eph. 5:32).

THE BEAUTY OF IT ALL

Weddings aren’t good just because they make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The reality is that weddings are good because they are the closest thing on earth to revealing the heart of heaven. Just look to the story of the original Creation week. After God masterfully paints the canvas of our earthly home with life-giving words and works, He slows down and intentionally plans the climactic act of creation:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness...” So God created mankind in His own image,  in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27-28, NIV

The Godhead wanted to etch Their very image within creation, something that would point not just to the physical appearance of God but to the fullness of who God really is. But how? Through what or whom? Humanity…not in singularity but in matrimony (and then in family, cf. v. 29). God originally designed marriage to be the most clear revelation of His heart. And what would that heart be? The beloved disciple who enjoyed close fellowship with the very Son of God said it simply: “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8).

That’s the beauty of this great mystery. Some think the mystery is in how to make marriage work, but the apostle has his sights on something higher when he describes marriage as a mystery. Check out the entirety of Ephesians 5:31-32:

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.

Marriage isn’t just about convenience or co-habitation. Marriage is a calling, a divinely-appointed institution that in its most complete form portrays in living color what others-centered, self-giving love truly looks and feels like. When we see a husband and wife give of themselves to make each other happy and whole, when we see sacrifice for and sensitivity to the other’s needs, we see but a dim reflection of something infinitely beautiful: God’s love for us. It’s a love that leaves what’s comfortable to sacrifices to become one with us. It’s a love that gives all and forsakes all, even to the point of death. That’s why weddings move us so. It’s not the pictures, the fancy clothes, or the toasts.

Weddings move us because they point to the One who made us. Marriage is an earthly token of heaven’s heart for us.

So go ahead. The next time you get to witness a wedding, be moved and swooned by the frills and festivities. But more than that, be in awe of the God who loves us and gives all for us in order to be one with us. The next time you get to spend time with a married couple or with your own spouse, lift up a prayer for the fulfillment of God’s dreams for that union. The world longs to see more of this great mystery.