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Mark 2:18-28


Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins - and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins."


One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, "Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" And he said to them, "Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?" And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." (ESV)

The Second Husband

Friday of Easter 4

1 May 2015

I have had more than one widow tell me that she could never marry again, because no other man could ever measure up to the husband taken from her in the wisdom of God. One said, "I could never marry a man that would be an embarrassment to my dead husband." But what would happen if such a woman had been wooed by a man who was superior to the dead spouse? What if that more-than-perfect man came along in God's good time? (It is possible, you know!) Then she would be swept off her feet by the second husband. Though she was free to decline all offers and live the life of a widow retired from marriage, she would be lifted into the life of a second husband, taken out of widowhood by love. Though there was no requirement to remarry, she would be compelled by the love of the right man. Not only has she been freed from marriage by her husband's death, but she is free to remarry when the right man proposes marriage to her. In that freedom she is compelled by love to accept him.


The right man has come for the church which has been divorced from the law by its death (Rm 7:3-4). We children of the church are no longer compelled to live under the legal compulsion of that husband. But we must not remain widowed. We are not merely freed from the law, but we are compelled to marry the more-than-perfect husband, Christ Himself. He does not leave us as a widow in mourning, but brings to us the bride's gown of joy. Perhaps Ruth was so compelled by Boaz to leave the home of her mother-in-law, where she had found peace, to be joined in marital joy with him. The Christian could never contemplate being separated from the husband who offers Himself in place of the church that they might be joined as an unblemished bride with Him who 'gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word' (Eph 5:25-26). Widowhood is not an option for the children of the church.


Ironically, in finding marital joy, Ruth and Boaz become forebears of the Messiah. The bride and groom procreated the forebear of King David. The joy to which Ruth was compelled when she left her mother-in-law for marriage was a source of the joy of the whole church, which became the bride of the Lord Jesus' spiritual joy. The law must give way for the sake of the true bridegroom, indeed it must die freeing us for that second and perfect marriage. It is bodily consummated as earthly marriage is too, because "we have died to the law through the body of Christ" (Rm 7:4), in the cross. He gives up His body unto death that we might gain it in the church, becoming His body through the marriage of baptism. Yes, sometimes the second husband is better.


John Chrysostom


"Paul says, 'Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. 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' (Rm 7:3-4). The wonder is that the Law itself acquits any charge against us, who are divorced from it. The purpose of it was that we should become Christ's. The basis of its power over us is removed in a twofold way. For law itself is dead and we are dead. But Paul is not content with this alone, but also adds the reason for it. For he has not set down death without special purpose, but he brings the cross in again, which had wrought these things. In this way too he puts us under an engagement (of marriage). You have not merely been freed, he means, but it was brought about through the Lord's death. For he says, 'You also have died to the law through the body of Christ.' Now it is not on this alone that he grounds his exhortation, but also on the superiority of this second husband. And so he proceeds: 'You should be married to another, to him who has been raised from the dead' (Rm 7:4).


"Then to prevent their saying, 'What would be wrong if we did not choose to live with another husband? For truly the Law does not make an adulteress of the widow who lives in a second marriage, but it does not force her to live in it.' Now that they may not say this, he shows that benefits already conferred, it is binding on us to marry Christ. This he lays down more clearly in other passages, where he says, 'You are not your own, for you were bought with a price' (1Co 6:19-20) and, 'You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men' (1Co 7:23).  'He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised' (2Co 5:15). This is what he here alludes to in the words, 'through the body.'"
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 12

Almighty God, You created man and woman and joined them together in holy marriage, thereby reflecting the mystical union between Christ and His bride, the Church. By Your goodness, bless all husbands and wives, that they may live together to Your glory in this life and with joy may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


For Scott and Maryann Murray, who are traveling to Germany to celebrate the dedication of the Old Latin School in Wittenberg, that they would be kept safe in their travels


For rain showers, that the Creator of all things would send nourishing rains to the parched land of California


In thanksgiving to God for the gift of the Old Latin School, which is to be dedicated on Sunday, that it would be a place where the faith of the Lutheran Church can be shared with Germans and visitors from around the world

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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