A Wonderful Mystery: An Address for the Wedding of James & Rebecca Dubro
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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Jim and Rebecca: When I asked you what readings you would like to have for today, you indicated that you wanted something different. Not the usual 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is…” or the Genesis account of marriage, or Matthew 19, where Jesus talks about marriage. By now, you probably noticed we still had those readings. They are too important to ignore. But I think you’ll find I’ve kept my promise to bring in something different with our text from Proverbs 30:18-19: “Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin.”
How is that for different? I would guess that most everyone here this afternoon had two immediate reactions to the passage I just read: First, what a strange text for a wedding address! Second, what a strange combination of items! An eagle, a snake, a ship, and a human couple (specifically, a man and a woman). What can such a foursome have in common? What is the common denominator that, according to the author’s own admission, mystifies him?
Well, what puzzles the writer of Proverbs is the relationship of these items to their respective environments, specifically the relationship of the eagle to the air, the snake to the rock, the ship to the sea, and the man to the maiden. How can an eagle, a large, clumsy bird on land, fly so gracefully in the air? How can a snake, a creature without legs, glide so smoothly over rock? How can a ship stay afloat and move over the water? These are three mysteries that the writer simply cannot understand.
But then he lists a fourth mystery, a fourth miracle of difference in the relationship of an item to its environment. And this is the climactic mystery, the real stunner: “the way of a man with a virgin.” How can two creatures as opposite from each other as a man and a woman fall in love to begin with? And how can they manage to live together successfully in this thing we call marriage? This fourth miracle of difference is the greatest mystery of them all.
This is the mystery we ponder today, Jim and Rebecca, with special reference to you on the occasion of your wedding. In addition to the obvious physical differences between you, there are other differences: your family backgrounds, your church affiliations, your personalities, your talents, and no doubt, some of your interests and habits as well. Obviously, you are both wonderful people. I can tell when I’ve met with you, that you love each other very much and want to look out for each other. You’ve got a good start here on the verge of this wonderful thing called marriage.
But how such opposites as a Jim and Rebecca will continue to love each other “till death [them] do part” is a good question today. In the language of our text, what will keep the eagle from falling, the snake from perishing, the ship from sinking, the way of a man with a maiden from failing? In short, what will make your marriage work?
The answer is a fifth miracle of difference, a mystery that our text doesn’t mention but which the Bible certainly does, over and over, so often, in fact, that it is the theme of the Scriptures—and that is the way of God with people. How can the Creator share heaven with His creature, especially since that creature has gone wrong? How can a holy God associate for all eternity with sinful people? How can light have fellowship with darkness? How can those opposites—God and people—attract, here and hereafter?
The answer lies in the greatness of God’s love for us, a love that prompted Him to bridge the differences between Himself and us by sending His Son, Christ Jesus to our world as one of us.
The curious thing is that to overcome the differences between God and people, Jesus Himself became different, decidedly different. The Son of God became man. Spirit became flesh and blood. The Architect of the universe became a carpenter. He who framed the worlds had nowhere to lay His own head. The timeless Son of God stepped into time. The Lawgiver put Himself under the Law—for our sake. The innocent one was made sin for us. The Blessed One was cursed as He was hanged on the tree. The Giver of life died—died on a cross—on our behalf. He who is one with the Father was separated from Him in the damnation of God-forsakenness—in our place.
What Jesus did, however, did more than bridge the differences between us and God; it also bridged the differences between us and our fellow sinners. Therefore, Christ’s life, love, and forgiveness is available for your life together, too, Jim and Rebecca.
God through Jesus will enable you to be attracted to each other for a lifetime, no matter how opposite from each other you may presently be. No matter how many more differences you discover in the future. God through Jesus will enable you to love and forgive even when you don’t feel like it. God through Jesus will achieve that remarkable unity in diversity that society calls a happy and successful marriage. Again, in the language of our text, it is God through Jesus who will keep the eagle flying, the snake gliding, the ship sailing, the way of a married man and woman, God-pleasing, happy, permanent.
Therefore, what better place to be together each week than in worship. For it is only there, in His means of grace, that the Lord promises to give you the love and forgiveness your marriage needs, and that you cannot produce for yourself. God’s Word of Law and Gospel, brings you to repentance, faith, and the forgiveness you need for yourself and your spouse. In the Lord’s Supper, Christ gives you His own body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.
In addition, gathering together with God’s children gives you an extended family of love and support that goes even beyond your loved ones who are gathered here today. You will have many examples of married love that draws its strength from Christ’s love, and by God’s grace a marriage that can be a picture to others of the profound mystery of Christ’s perfect love for His bride, the Church.
Jim & Rebecca, my prayer for you is that, by God’s grace, you will revel is the mystery of married love for many years to come. Amen.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This sermon is adapted from a sermon by Rev. Francis C. Rossow, published in Concordia Pulpit Resources, Volume 19, Part 4, Series B, p. 58, Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis 2009