Wedding of Mitchell and Whitney Rengstorf

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Audio: iTunes | Spotify | Download

᛭ INI ᛭

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Although a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him…” So it was that the LORD God said, “It is not good that Adam should be alone. I will make a helper that will be a perfect fit for him.” So it was that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, his side. “Therefore a man shall leave His Father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is, as St. Paul just said, “about Christ and His bride the Church.”

So it was that, “in the fulness of time God sent forth His Son,” as Jesus says, “I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” When Jesus was on the cross, dying for the sins of the whole world, He “saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’” He then died for the sake of His bride, “gave Himself up,” gave up His life, “for her,” as St. Paul says. Then “blood and water” flowed from His spear-pierced side. The picture is now complete: the water points to “the washing of water with the Word” (Holy Baptism), and the blood points to the Supper of His body and blood by which Jesus “nourishes her and cares for her.”

So it was that the Lord has brought you two together. The Lord is always the one joining people together in marriage, whether they know Him or not. You know Him and He knows you—each of you. You are the perfect fit for each other. As it was in Eden, so it is today in Bremen. She made just for you. He the only man in the world for you. Perfect timing, perfect giving.

But Ecclesiastes 4:12 has a little bit more to say to you, too. “Although a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Now, many a wedding sermon dives into that you and you and God. There’s a kernel of truth in that idea. But that’s all a bit “out there.” It’s not something you can hang your hat on, or it’s something you get to define. God desires to be with you in your marriage, of course, but He is there in a specific way.

“A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” The Lord would bind you two together for a lifetime with an unbreakable cord. It is a cord made up of three words. Simple words really. Not so simple to implement, but they are the words of faith that two Christian spouses use for each other and for all members of their household. The Lord ties you together with “I forgive you.”

“I forgive you” has nothing to do with the person speaking them, as if it’s only about no harboring resentment or something. That is the selfish forgiveness of the world. “I forgive you” has everything to do with the person who needs to hear them. That is self-less forgiveness. Christian forgiveness has everything to do with that. Everything a Christian does, whether it’s “in word or deed,” is done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Col 3:17)

Christian spouses forgive one another “in Jesus’ name.” Selflessly so, for the sake of the one who sins. Not selfishly for the sake of the one bestowing. (Though that temptation and sin pops up even in Christian homes.) Jesus’ “I forgive you” will tie you two together more strongly than rope or chain or even your love for each other day. “I forgive you.” Words that deliver the peace and pardon Jesus won at His cross. They deliver the verdict of “innocent” that is based on His empty tomb. They deliver His love, His life, His salvation.

“I forgive you.” Mitchell, Whitney will need to hear them from you, and she will echo them back to you. After all, “love does not keep a record of wrong.” (1 Cor 13:5) Jesus does not keep a record of either of your wrongs. In the mystery of God’s way of doing things they are eternally forgiven at Calvary and eternally forgiven each time He speaks His “I forgive you” through you. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

“I forgive you.” Three simple words. “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” In fact, these three words last a lifetime. You’ll need such powerful words. You’ll be making life-long promises today, and only Jesus’ “I forgive you” will actually make it happen. Jesus binds you two together more strongly than your love, than your vows, than even your holding hands. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” He’s united you not just with your promises, but His! He’s uniting you together with His mercy and forgiveness. The Lord ties you together with the strongest threefold cord, the strongest three words He knows: “I forgive you.” And so you are!

᛭ INI ᛭

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