I am currently studying the book of Romans with one of my students. Today we were in Chapter 7 and found ourselves mulling over this term of Husband and Master. Paul says something striking about marriage and two different types of husbands:
Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 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. 4 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.
There are two husbands here, one is a Master and one is a Husband. This reminded me of some beautiful verses in Hosea 2 where we have the adulteress, the prostitute who is Israel and she “shall pursue her lovers”, chasing after idols, slave drivers. But look at how Christ sees her, even though she is chasing after other things:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”
Christ wins back his bride. He allures her and chases after her heart. And what does he say? “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.” (Or master in NIV)…
The Husband wins back his bride and takes her out of slavery. She no longer belongs to any other. And a result of us having Christ as our husband is that we are faced with a beautiful marriage:
And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. (Hosea 2v19-20)
How beautiful is this? Look how Christ loves his bride and pours his love and mercy on her. Is that not what Paul meant when he says that the husband is the head of the wife and he must love her like Christ loves the church, his bride. Its this kind of love. A love that wins, wooes and pours great love onto his wife and protects her forever.
But the reality is that often we see Christ as a Master instead of a husband or we chase after other things that soon enslave us and become a master in our lives. But Christ wins and wooes us, he brings us into a wilderness and chases away all other things and changes our hearts to show us who he really is: a Husband who loves you. Christ is no master with whips, thrashing you to be faithful. No, he wooes your heart. Come and enjoy Him and see how he loves you.