For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church (5:31-32).
If the Apostle Paul had said to Christians, “Hey guys, Jesus loves the church the way you love your wives”, we’d be in trouble because, sometimes, we husbands don’t love our wives very well. Thank God it’s the other way round. Paul says we are to love our wives “as Christ loves the church.” The union between Christ and His church is the model for Christian marriage.
Paul does not say that marriage teaches us about Christ and the church. Instead, he says that the relationship between Christ and the church tells us what God intends for a husband and wife. That’s where we are to discover it.
Where Can a Husband Learn How to Love His Wife?
If you grew up in an unhappy or a dysfunctional home, if your parents were not happy together or did not treat each other well, you will have faced this question: How can I know what it means to be a godly husband? If your father was not present, or if he was not faithful or good, where can a man learn how to treat a woman?
If you want to know what a godly marriage looks like, the place to begin is not with your parents. No matter how good they were, they are going to bring all kinds of cultural and generational baggage into the picture. The place to begin is with the relationship between Christ and the church.
You may say, “Well, of course, Jesus is my model for everything in life. But Jesus was never married, so I can’t look to Him in this.” Ephesians 5 tells us that Christ has a bride, and that bride is the church. So, get to know Christ and you’ll discover what a good husband is—whether or not you saw this modeled when you were younger. Husbands, think deeply about Christ and the church, and God will teach you what kind of husband he is calling you to be. Christ’s love for the church gives you the template for loving your wife.
Here is the wonderful news of the Gospel for your marriage: Knowing God in Jesus Christ is wonderfully redemptive, no matter what your background.
How Christ Loves the Church
Christ gave Himself for the church.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25).
Here is Christ in heaven, at the right hand of God, but he loved the church and gave himself up for her. What does that mean?
Christ says, “I’m ready to pay any price. am ready to endure any pain to do her good.” He puts on hold all the joys that are his in heaven, and he loves the church when there’s no love coming back. Romans 8 proves this: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He endured. He suffered. He forgave.
Husbands you can pray in repentance and faith, to receive help from Christ today: “Lord Jesus, I cannot do this in my own strength. I need your Spirit. I need your love. I need your power. I need your forgiveness if I am to begin loving my wife the way that you loved the church.”
Christ leads the church.
Christ is the head of the church… of which he is the Savior (Eph. 5:23).
Christ takes the initiative with the church. Christ is always up to something good. If you read the history of the church, you see the revivals—God sweeping into the church, bringing His people new blessings that they never imagined.
What will Christ do in this church next year? There isn’t a single one of us who can answer that question. We will experience His blessing and see His love in ways that will surprise us with joy. That’s the romance of the Christian life. You never know what Christ will do next, but whatever it is, you know that it will be good. In the next year, He may sweep us all away into His everlasting glory. Do you know that he won’t do that?
What does this mean for husbands? We have the singular responsibility, if we are copying Christ’s model, to be the initiator and innovator in the home—to make sure that the marriage does not become dull, stale, or boring. When was the last time you did something completely unexpected and surprising that was for your wife’s good? When was the last time you did something that made her say, “Oh, my!”—something that brought joy into the dull routine of life?
Christ nourishes the church.
No one ever hated His own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:29).
The point here is very simple. You look after your own body. ou feed it, you nourish it, you protect it, you build your own body up. The church is the body of Christ, and this is what Christ does for the church. Christ feeds, nourishes, protects, builds up, and causes the church to flourish. The attention and the affection of Christ are always with the church.
Christ always knows exactly what the church needs. Husbands, love your wife like that. He sees what she can become. Husbands, love your wife like that. The church is always on the mind of Christ, and He loves her as she is. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church!
Christ will present the church to Himself.
[Christ will] present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless… (Eph. 5:27).
The church may not always look so attractive now, but she has a glorious future as the radiant bride of Christ. Michael Griffiths, who served as president of the school where I studied in London, wrote a book about the church called, Cinderella with Amnesia.  Cinderella is a wonderful picture of the church. Sometimes she looks a bit ragged. There are some ugly brothers and sisters who despise her and count her of little value, and in some parts of the world, a wicked stepmother persecutes her. But Christ loves the church, and he will bring her to his palace.
Michael Griffiths takes up that picture: “The church is often like Cinderella… with amnesia.” Our greatest problem is that we lose sight of our prince and of our glorious future. We need to remember who we are and to whom we belong. Christ has chosen a bride, and his bride is the church. He will “present us to himself.” And when he does, the church will not be in rags and tatters. The church will be “without stain, wrinkle or any other blemish” (Eph. 5:27).
There will be no zits on this bride’s face on her wedding day and no wrinkles either. If zits are the pain of youth, wrinkles are the pain of old age. They speak of tiredness, weariness, and carrying a heavy load. Christ says, “There will be no wrinkles on my church. She’ll be radiant and glorious. And she’ll share the joy of heaven forever.”
It is the church that Christ presents to himself. We should thank God for the many Christian agencies and ministries that God has raised up. But it is important to remember that their task is to support the church. Christian schools, seminaries, radio ministries, missionary societies, and evangelistic organizations are like bridesmaids who assist the bride as she gets ready for the bridegroom. The bride needs her bridesmaids, but it’s a great mistake to make more of the bridesmaids than you make of the bride.
At the end of the Bible, John the Apostle hears a great roar coming from heaven:
Hallelujah, for our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready… Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! (Rev. 19:6-9).