Christ loved the church and will present her spotless
This week we’ll continue to think about the church now and into eternity, carrying on the Bible story where we left off in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4.
Pray: for God’s help as you look and think on his word now.
Read: Ephesians 5:22–33
22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Think: this might seem like a strange passage to look at, but it will help us understand many of the future pictures of the church (which we’ll see later in the week). Don’t get too bogged down in detail. Rather, concentrate on pondering what we see about the church here. What does this passage tell us about the relationship between Jesus and his body (the church)? What will his church be like in the end (v27)? In what ways is marriage a helpful picture of Jesus and his church?
Pray: use the words of the passage, and turn them into prayers of praise. Take time to thank God for what we see here: ‘Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Today: think of examples in relationships you know (or your own marriage) which have been good earthly reminders of the spiritual reality of Jesus’ relationship with his church. How does it help you to see the model lived out? Alternatively, where could you start to look to see the relationship lived out in your church family? How could you take practical steps to make this happen? It’ll help you mediate more on the love Christ has for his people.