They say, “Christ is the reason for the season,” but that’s a bit vague don’t you think? Yes, today is the day in which Christendom turns special attention to the birth of Christ. And yet the coming of the Son of God as a baby surely wasn’t an end in itself. There’s a reason behind the season.
Of course, we know that Jesus was born to die for our sins, but even that horrible, wonderful event points to a wider purpose. Scripture gives us the reason for Christ’s birth and for his death from the very beginning in Genesis 2.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
I love Isaiah 7 and 9, but to get the mechanics of “God with us,” we must get to the beginning and what better place to start a story of birth than with a story about marriage. When asking for the reason, we can find no better place to look than verses which begin with “That is why…” If you’ve heard very many sermons on marriage or been to a Christian marriage seminar, you’ve probably always seen this passage as a divine mandate to avoid your in laws. I don’t agree.
There’s more going on here.
Adam didn’t have parents, so what does the story of his wedding have to do with putting our parents at a distance when we wed? The Jews obviously didn’t interpret their own text in that way since Jewish men of marrying age would build a bridal suite onto their parents’ home and bring their wives to move in.
I think we’ve misunderstood this verse because we’re looking for a precedent where the Bible has placed a prophesy. Look at the verse again, this time in the ESV:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.Genesis 2:24 (ESV – emphasis mine)
The story of Adam and Eve is about “a man.” The Hebrew word here refers specifically to a male human. Who “shall,” at a time future from the perspective of creation. “Leave his father and his mother” is unnecessarily specific. Why doesn’t the text just say, “parents.” In a patriarchal society, it could have just said, “father.” I think the words and even the word order point to this future man who will first leave his father and then leave his mother for the sake of his wife to become one flesh with her.
I’m sure you see where I’m going with all of this, but maybe you think I’m reaching. If I am, I’m not doing so alone.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.Ephesians 5:29-32 (ESV)
Christ left his Father to be born a man. As a man, he left his grieving mother in the care of his beloved disciple at the cross. Christ was born to die, but he died to take his bride. The reason for the season and for all of creation is our intimate union with the Son of God.
This Christmas, let’s live up to our purpose to reveal God in flesh since we are his body the partakers of his flesh. Let us adore him, our husband. Let us help him, our Lord. Let us represent him in our proactive love for each other and in his mission to the world.
If you’ve yet to accept his proposal of marriage, please consider what he left to betroth himself to you. Accept his offer today and let him be born in you this Christmas.