S-1061 6/29/08 7SAP/3A (O) #416; (S) #620; L.S. #208; #458; #204 (C) #261
Texts: Jeremiah 28:5-9; Romans 7:1-13; Matthew 10:34-42
Theme: “Until Death Unite Us!” Romans 7:4
Armour, SD SOLIE DEO GLORIA.
Question: “To whom do you belong?”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the book of Romans. “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” (Rom. 7:4).
Saints in Christ, during the months of June and July there are many weddings that take place. As people attend these blessed events, they hear the couple say: “Until death parts us!” Every married couple recognizes in these words that they are making a solemn promise before God and the witnesses that they will remain with each other until the Lord Calls one of them home.
As you ponder these words, you come to the knowledge that they stand at the heart of the marriage covenant; they express the fundamental truth on which marriage is built. That God is the only One who unites the woman to the man and makes them one flesh. For this reason, it is God alone who can bring that union to an end. The Savior, Jesus Christ while walking the dusty roads of Palestine proclaimed, “What therefore God has joined together let not man separate” (Mt. 19:6).
Let it be known and understood therefore, that marriage is not a man made institution; it is not a union of the human wills; marriage doesn’t consist merely in the choice of the man or the woman. Rather, marriage is an act of the Creator, by which He joins the woman to the man in one essence; she is flesh of his flesh, bone of his bones. He who joined them is the only one possessing the authority and power to separate them.
In the book of Ephesians Paul lays a wonderful image of what a marriage should be like. And he compares it to the marriage of Christ and His Bride—the Church (Eph. 5). And so, too, in this text, Paul teaches us that there is a deeper and more important relationship to this marriage. Yet in this text, Paul throws a curve ball at us and our thinking regarding marriage. He surprises us in a sense. For it is true that in marriage, death does indeed parts us—from someone we love. But it’s also true that DEATH unites us to our Spouse. The marriage of Christ and His Church isn’t possible until death unites us.
Our author, Paul is a great theologian who deliberately takes the time to teach and guide us in our thinking about salvation. Study the book of Romans (as we have been doing for the last five weeks) and you will see what a master piece of truth is found in this wonderful book. He lays the ground work and distinction between sin and grace, justification and sanctification, salvation and damnation.
What Paul wants us to grasp in this portion of God’s holy Word is this: Marriage to Christ consists in a death to the old self and a resurrection to a new identity. Thus we can say, “Until Death Unite Us.”
Paul uses two images to express the reality of sin. First, he likens sin as a world-wide tyrant enforcing his will upon his slaves. Putting them to death, the wages of sin is death (6:23). Sin reigning in our mortal bodies (5:21), Man as a slave to sin (6:20); and second, Paul likens sin as a groom whom mankind embraces.
In this image, Paul, demonstrates that sin is not some foreign power in our hearts, but an intimate husband that we hold dear and embrace. Man is not forced to sin, but enjoys and embraces a life of sin. And because of this sin, man can’t become a son.
What’s at stake here is that mankind is married to a husband that drives him into slavery. The Law of God always reveals the death hold on man. The Law of God doesn’t seek to serve man, but to rule over him. The Law of God doesn’t bring pleasure to the heart of man, but death. As Paul himself stated, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (7:7), and he further states: “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (7:9-11).
The Law doesn’t deliver, but binds us. The Law doesn’t free us, but frightens us. The Law doesn’t please us, but pains us. And so we long for freedom. We long for faith. We long for something different. We want to be freed from this evil world. We want to have a husband—a new husband that can deliver and free us and give us what we can’t do on our own as slaves.
Paul introduces our new husband as the resurrected, reigning and returning Christ. Jesus Christ is the New Husband for the Church. When Christ died, He made the Law, which sin uses to bind us to itself of no effect. No longer does the Law have any power over us. What Paul is saying here, is this: It is as if our first husband, our sinful self, has died, setting us free to marry another. Therefore, we belong to another. For this reason, then, Christ’s death opens the way from slavery to sonship.
This sonship took place when we died with Christ in Baptism (Romans6:1-6). Through this death we were united to Him forever and rise to a new life—never to be separated from Him by any force or power.
Oh, the joy of the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. For the resurrection of Christ begins man’s marriage to God and His righteousness and blessedness. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the man who rules over all things. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the man in whom there is no sin. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the man in whom there is no death. By His grace alone we are now married to the risen Christ, the perfect husband who truly loves mankind to the end.
As we gather in this house of worship we see how Christ continues to woo His beloved. He does so by the preaching of His Word that assures us that we are no longer slaves, but sons and heirs with Him forever. In Baptism, in His death and resurrection, we know for certainty that is the way to Paradise. In the Sacrament of the Altar, we become fruitful sons and daughters of his divine love to others.
“Until death parts us” These words that we so often hear at a wedding ceremony, are a sometimes taking lightly. The young couple who speak these were, hardly think about the meaning of them. They slip off their tongues without any consideration to the severity of what could take place. These words are constant nagging and reminder that our joy will end in grief. Ask any person here who has lost a spouse of the pain of these words. What begins with joy will end with pain and sorrow. We know for sure there is an end to this union. However, in Christ, there is victory (that is why we will be singing two Easter hymns today). Yes, brothers and sisters in the family of faith, Christ’s death has parted us from our first husband, that old sinful self. But in Christ, we can now also say, “Until death unites us.”
It is Christ’s death that has united us to one another and to His Father in heaven. It is our death in Holy Baptism that has annulled the power of the evil one so that we might be a holy Bride adorned with the true righteousness for our Bridegroom. Finally, it is our death to this world that brings the full consummation of our union with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that knows no end. Amen.
Now the peace...