Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her Ephesians 5:25
Love – Paul has less to say to husbands than to wives. Perhaps that’s because the obligation for the husband should be much more obvious. It’s summarized right here – “just as Christ loved.” More explanation is hardly necessary. Whatever the relationship to his wife, whatever her role might be, this much is crystal clear. A man is expected to give up his life for her.
I would imagine that most husbands would agree – in principle. And under threat of bodily harm, most husbands would sacrifice themselves for the woman they love. But I also suspect that Paul has a great deal more in mind than the possibility of dying in order to save our wives. If we reflect on the way that Christ loved the church, we will see that the sacrifice required is much broader than physical protection. Let’s consider the full consequences.
First, Yeshua gave up His exalted status in order to take on the role of the lover of the church. He stepped down from heaven and became a doulos, a slave, obedient to other human beings and to God’s full instruction book. The first step in loving the church was total humility. Yeshua came with no other agenda, no other expectation and no other plan. Do you suppose that loving my wife as Christ loved the church requires me to set aside my agenda, my pride, my ego and my expectations?
Secondly, Yeshua demonstrated complete obedience to the will of the Father in spite of the fact that the very people He came to rescue acted like His enemies. He did not waiver in His commitment to their redemption even when they sought His life, rejected His message and treated Him with disrespect. I wonder if loving my wife like Yeshua loved the church means that I need to show her every kindness, every consideration and every tender mercy even when I feel as though she is my personally selected enemy.
Finally, Yeshua voluntarily took on the role of life giver. He literally gave up His life in order that the church might be redeemed – and live. In Hebrew thought, the wife (‘ezer) is the life saver, the one who nourishes, protects and provides, the one who emulates the role of God in His relationship with Israel. The Son has a different role, the life giver. By His actions, Israel is returned to its mission. By His sacrifice, Israel is renewed. By His power, Israel is enabled to fulfill its divinely appointed destiny. The life saver cannot do what she needs to do unless the life giver does what he needs to do. Together they are human.
Paul’s chosen word, agape, says all that is necessary – benevolence toward another at cost to myself, without preconditions and without expectations. Husbands, love your wives.
Topical Index: Love