Saturday, January 02, 2016

One Flesh

[This was shared during the wedding of Steve and Charla earlier today.]

Genesis 2:18, 21-24
Today is a miracle. Or maybe we should say that it's the culmination of many miracles.

One miracle is that God caused Steve and Charla to find each other.

The other is that God has subdued cancer to allow this day to happen.

With you, Charla and Steve, we give thanks to God for His blessings.

You’ve chosen Genesis 2, verse 18, then verses 21 to 24, as the text for your wedding day. It’s a good choice because here, God brings the first man and the first woman together in marriage. In fact, these verses tell us about a lot more than just marriage, things like the grace of God, His creative power, the need of those created in God’s image for relationship and community.

But for today, let’s just focus on a few things it tells us about marriage, especially your marriage, Steve and Charla.

We’re told: “The Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ [And then:] So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

Throughout Genesis 1, God has looked at everything He created and declared it “good.” After God had made human beings, God called His creation “very good.”

But now, as God looks at the man, he says that it “is not good for the man to be alone.” After God says this, in a part of Genesis not included in our lesson, God creates animals and Adam names them. But there was no other part of God's creation that scratched that basic human itch to be connected to another human being, someone who, unlike God the Father, “has skin on them.”

So, God decided to “make a helper suitable for him.” Now, when God says this, He isn’t saying Adam needed someone to clean up after him.

To understand this, you just have to look at a few passages in which someone else is described as “a helper” in the Old Testament.

In Exodus 18:4, for example, a man named Eliezer says: “My father’s God was my helper...”

Moses says in Deuteronomy 33:29: “Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the
Lord? He is your shield and helper...”

In the case of God, of course, though God ultimately comes to us as the servant King Jesus, a helper is our superior: the last Who by His death and resurrection is first, the One Who bears the name above all names.

When it comes to human beings, a helper isn’t inferior
or superior.

For the follower of the God we know in Jesus Christ,
a helper is someone who helps us to make it through this life, who shares this life with us, and reminds us of the trustworthy promises of Jesus that He will be with those who believe in Him always and that we share in His victory over sin and death.

In times of suffering and difficulty, helpers sustain and encourage us
In times of happiness and ease, helpers ground us

As I’ve observed you in the two years I’ve known you, Charla and Steve, I see two people who are, from God’s perspective, helpers to one another. You take care of each other, as God intended.

All believers are to be helpers to one another, of course. But marriage is meant to be the place where that especially happens. That’s part of why we celebrate with you today!

After God had presented Eve to Adam, Adam speaks for the first time in the whole Bible: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ [the Hebrew word for woman is ishah] for she was taken out of man [the Hebrew word for man here is ish.

The two are to be
one flesh in more ways than just physical intimacy.

They are one flesh, first of all, in the sense that they come from the same place
: They were both created by God from the same God-made material. Both are, as King David would later write, “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

And they are also one flesh in the sense that, by grace through faith in the God the whole world can now know through Jesus Christ, they share the victory Jesus gained when His crucified flesh rose from the dead, conquering sin and death

Husbands and wives, new families unto themselves after they enter into the covenant of marriage, are to be, in Luther’s phrase, “little churches,” part of the body of Christ, able to sustain and encourage each other in Christ’s love, able to forgive one another when inevitable conflicts happen, and able to remind each other that nothing will be able to separate believers from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Charla and Steve: We do rejoice with you today. May you be helpers to each other. And may you remain and grow in being one flesh as you build your life together on Jesus Christ, the sure cornerstone, the redeemer of our souls. Amen

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