An arranged marriage

When I was young, my father told me about a French trader and explorer who was living and working in North America back in the 1700s. This trader was lonely and wanted to get married, but not many French women had come to the New World. So, like other French traders and explorers of his century, this man decided that he would marry one of the native women. He contacted the chief of the nearby Chickasaw tribe, and the two men decided to negotiate for the marriage of one of the chief’s three daughters.

The only common language the men had was English, and the Chickasaw chief actually spoke better English than the French trader. To avoid stereotyping and objectionable characterizations, I will have both men speak normal contemporary English.

They met at the chief’s dwelling, and the chief explained that among his people, when a man acquired a wife, he must pay a price for her to her family. The French trader agreed to this, and the chief had each daughter come out of the dwelling, spread an animal skin on the ground, and sit on it. The first daughter brought out a deer skin, spread it on the ground, and sat on it. “Twenty pieces of silver for her,” the Chickasaw chief declared. The French trader nodded.

The second daughter came out of the dwelling with a bear skin. She spread it on the ground and sat on it. “Thirty pieces of silver,” said the Chickasaw chief. Again, the French trader nodded.

The third daughter brought with her a hippopotamus skin. She also spread it on the ground and sat on it. “Fifty pieces of silver,” said her father. The French trader looked at the three young women. All three were young and attractive, but he could not see that the third one was more special than her sisters. “Fifty pieces of silver?” he asked. “Why so much?”

“You know that we have no hippos around here,” her father said. “That hide is imported from Egypt. It traveled many miles—very expensive.” He took a deep breath and added, “The value of the squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the squaws on the other two hides.”

J.

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Contentment, part two

God says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

Luther explains, “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.”

Salvageable adds: Some things belong to our neighbors because they were bought with money. Other things, living things, are attached to our neighbors by loyalty and not only by money. Envying a relationship is as wrong as envying a possession, because such envy reveals that we neither love our neighbor nor trust God to give us all that is good for us.

If you are unmarried, you have the right to become married. But do not end another marriage to find for yourself a wife or a husband. Do not even think about what it would be like to be married to a person who already is married to someone else. You can be friends, if that person is willing to be your friend, but in your friendship continue to support that person’s marriage.

If you wish to hire a worker, advertise the job opening and choose your new worker from those who apply for the job. Do not target or recruit the workers of your competitors or hire someone for the purpose of robbing that person from the competition. Hire the best workers that apply for your job, and do not even think about how to steal away the people who are working for your competitors.

If you need work animals, such as oxen and donkeys, go ahead and obtain them honestly. Do not steal them from your neighbor or trick your neighbor into letting them work for you. Do not even think about how you can take away your neighbor’s ox or donkey. Instead, if your neighbor’s work animal is wandering, lead it home. If it is lost and you do not know who owns it, advertise that you have found a missing animal, and take good care of it until your neighbor arrives to claim it.

Of course this applies to pets as well as to work animals. You can be kind to your neighbor’s dog or cat or exotic pet. Do not try to win its loyalty away from your neighbor by your kindness or your treats. The old ploy, “This dog followed me home from school—can we keep it?” is dishonest. It is far better to tell that dog to “go home,” to stay with its owner and do its duty.

An additional relationship is not mentioned by God or by Luther, but I think it is covered also under “anything that belongs to your neighbor.” That relationship is friendship. We all need friends, but we should not try to steal friends away from other people, whether by lies and gossip or by promising better rewards for our friendship. Bitter competition for friendship peaks during junior high and senior high years, but the feelings that provoke that competition never disappear. Most of us simply become better at hiding our feelings, and the rest become better at manipulating people without their efforts being obvious.

One relationship we never need to avoid coveting: our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the timeless God, so he has enough time for each of us. He also has enough love for each of us. He has enough forgiveness to cover all of our sins. No matter how tightly we cling to him, we cannot rob him away from anyone else. He is always with us, always quick to forgive our sins because of the price he already paid to remove them. He wants us to be content in our relationship with him. He even wants us to tell other people about him so he can have the same relationship with them. Although the devil and the sinful world try to entice or force us away from Jesus, they cannot succeed, because nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. J.

Protecting marriages

God says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).

Luther explains, “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.”

Salvageable adds: In explaining most of the commandments, Luther lists things we should not do as well as things we should do. Only in the first commandment and in this commandment does Luther omit the negatives and describe only the positives. Perhaps he feared that the list of things we should not do regarding marriage and intimacy would become too long to be practical. Perhaps he feared that such a list would give people sinful ideas. Probably, though, Luther wanted to emphasize the positive about a matter that too often is discussed only in negative terms.

As people hunger for food and thirst for water, so most people have an appetite for the intimacy that belongs in marriage. God created that appetite for good reasons, including the mutual support of a man and a woman, and the raising of children in a secure environment. As people can crave food and drink that is not healthy for them, so people can seek to satisfy their desire for intimacy in ways that are impure and indecent. This commandment of God protects marriages. Marriage is important to God. In a perfect world, he created a man and a woman, both in his image, to love and honor each other, to care for the planet and all that it contains and to be helpers or teammates to one another.

The devil and the sinful world hate everything that is good. They seek to damage or destroy the good things God made, twisting those good things into things that are adulterated, indecent, and impure. Whether a person is married or single, that person should respect the marriages of others and not seek to undermine them, whether for personal gain or just out of spite and envy. Jesus said that looking at another person for the purpose of lust is adultery, but the world surrounds us with suggestive images, seeking to inspire lust within us. Lust is sinful, not merely because of this commandment, but also because it treats another person as an object, an It, rather than a person, a Thou. The devil has an additional trick, throwing guilt at a person who has been tempted and has resisted the temptation. Luther had an expression for people who felt guilty about experiencing temptation: “You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” When we encounter temptations to sin and resist them, we should feel thankful and not guilty, for we are partaking in the victory Jesus won over all evil.

Also, Luther may have noted how Bible writers often compare idolatry to adultery. They do this because God compares his people—Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament—to his Bride, saying that he loves his people as a husband loves his wife. Any attack on marriage, then, is an attack on love in general and on God’s love in particular. Paul counseled husbands to love their lives as Christ loves the Church; he goes on to paint a picture of Christ purifying the Church by his own sacrifice to make her holy and acceptable. Having been made pure, we want to remain pure. Christ’s forgiveness is available every day to remove the stain of sin from our lives. This redemption changes us, subtracting lust from our hearts, teaching us truly to love, building intimate love within marriages, and causing us to respect also the marriages of others. J.

Christ in Genesis: the Bride

Isaac is a picture of Christ in at least three ways. His birth was promised in advance, just as Moses and the prophets promised the coming of Christ. Isaac’s birth to ninety-year-old Sarah was a miracle, just as Christ’s birth to the virgin Mary was a miracle. Isaac’s father was willing to sacrifice him for the good of the world, just as God the Father accepted the sacrifice of his Son for the good of the world. It stands to reason, then, that the bride of Isaac should in some way resemble the Bride of Christ, the Holy Christian Church.

Abraham sent a servant to find a wife for his son Isaac and bring her to him. So also God sent prophets to prepare the way of the Lord, so that believers in the coming Savior were rescued by the same faith in Jesus that rescues Christians today. The apostles were sent to make disciples of all nations, and missionaries are still sent into the world, so that the Church will consist of people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9).

Abraham’s servant prayed to God for help. Those who preach and proclaim God’s Word do not save sinners by their own words of persuasion. Only Jesus saves sinners; only the Holy Spirit creates saving faith through God’s Word. The servant brings the message, but only God can provide the answer.

God answers the servant’s prayer “before he had finished speaking” (Genesis 24:15). The timeless God knows what we need and what we will pray. He wants us to pray, to keep in touch with him, but he generously provides for us—even more than what we ask—because of his love for us. Missionaries sometimes find that people who never heard of Jesus or the Christian Church are somehow prepared for the message, coming to faith as soon as they learn of the person and the work of Jesus Christ.

Abraham’s servant places jewelry from Abraham upon Rebekah before he speaks to her about marrying Isaac. The members of the Christian Church are not saved from sin and evil by the good things they do for God; they are saved by the good things Jesus has done for them. We bring nothing of our own to be accepted by Jesus as his people; we bring only the works Jesus has done for us—his obedience to his Father’s will, his sacrifice on the cross as a Ransom for us, and his victorious resurrection from the dead, defeating all God’s enemies on our behalf.

Rebekah is offered no choice whether or not to be married to Isaac. The servant describes his message from Abraham, Laban and Bethuel declare that “the thing has come from the Lord; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has spoken” (Genesis 24:50-51).

Yet after she has been claimed as Isaac’s bride, she is given a choice whether she will linger in her old way of life for several days or whether she will leave immediately with Abraham’s servant to be brought to Isaac. We cannot choose to come to faith, for we were “dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked, following the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:1-2). God made us alive, giving us faith—much as the command of Jesus made Lazarus alive and able to walk out of his tomb (John 11:43-44). Being made alive, we can linger in our old sinful ways or live in the new life provided by God’s Gospel. The prophets and apostles frequently urge people not to linger in the darkness but to walk in the light. People who are alive have freedom to make good choices or bad choices. People who are dead have no freedom.

Rebekah chooses to travel immediately to her husband, not to linger in her old way of life. So also the Bride of Christ comes to him, to the husband who “might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27). Once again, Christians do not sanctify themselves for Jesus; they are sanctified by the work of Jesus, done on their behalf.

Before they left her home and her family, Abraham’s servant “brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah” (Genesis 24:53). When they approached Abraham’s home and Rebekah first saw Isaac from a distance, “she took her veil and covered herself” (Genesis 24:65). She came to her husband in clothing that he and his father had already provided to her. As God cast away the fig-leaf clothing Adam and Eve had made and provided suitable clothing for them, so the Church and its members come to Christ clothed in the righteousness he has provided us. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Clothed in his righteousness, we are his Church. Today we are still engaged to Christ, waiting for the Bridegroom to come in all his splendor to bring us to his mansion. Already, though, we belong to him, chosen “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) to be his people forever.

My best friend’s rotten wife

I have a very good friend, the best friend I could ever have. I like him very much; in fact, I owe everything I have to him. I want to spend more time with him, but I’ve got a problem. I don’t get along with his wife.

My friend is great, but sometimes I cannot stand his wife. My friend tells me, though, that I have to take them as a team. If I want to be with him, I also have to be with her. I know that my friend likes me, but I’m not sure about his wife. Sometimes she ignores me, and sometimes she is even mean to me. She has many moods—she can be angry and accusing, she can be dry and boring, and she can be sappy and sentimental. Sometimes she tries to dress up and look awesomely beautiful and impressive, but other times it does not seem as though she cares how she appears.

If I give a gift to my friend, I know he is going to share it with his wife. He cannot seem to stop himself. His wife is the one who reminds me how much I owe my friend. She is always prepared to take the money I give to my friend and spend it on herself. In fact, I think she’s using him. He does not go a moment of any day without loving her, but sometimes she seems to forget that he even exists.

I’d like to spend time with my friend when his wife is not around, but he won’t let that happen. Whenever the two of us are together, she has to be there too. My friend expects me to accept her, even with all her faults, if I want to be with him.

My friend is Jesus of Nazareth, and his bride is the Holy Christian Church. I love Jesus, but I don’t always love the Church. Jesus is sinless and perfect, but the Church is filled with sinners. Jesus loves me and gave himself for me, but I don’t always feel loved when I am with the Church. If I could have Jesus as my friend without the Church, I think that would make me happy, but Jesus does not give me that option. He loves the Church, and he expects me to be with her if I want to be with him.

Jesus is not blind to the faults of his Church. Yet he loves the Church and willingly serves the Church. More than that, he forgives the Church and forgives every sinner in the Church. Sometimes I struggle to understand his love and his forgiveness, but they should make me happy. After all, if Jesus can love the Church and forgive it, in spite of all its flaws and imperfections, then I know that he loves me and forgives me too.

J.  (first published May 10, 2015)

Love her. Submit unto him.

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul uses these words to introduce his instructions to husbands and wives, to children and parents, and to workers and supervisors. Like Confucius, Paul taught that one must know who one is in relation to others to be sure of what one ought to be doing. Ever since Paul wrote these words, people have been pulling bits of them out of the larger context and using them to try to control each other.

Men and women are different. The difference can be seen microscopically (the difference between X and Y chromosomes) or by studying the entire package. Some differences may be culturally induced (nurture rather than nature), but that does not make them wrong. Whether one attributes the differences between men and women to a wise Creator (as I do) or explains them as “survival of the fittest,” the differences between men and women help to form stronger families, stronger communities, stronger nations, and a better world.

Paul tells men to love their wives with a sacrificial, Christ-like love. This theme diverts Paul into the mystery of Christ and the Church, in which every marriage of a man and a woman becomes a picture or analogy of Christ and the Church. Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord.” Since he has already told all Christians to submit to one another, it seems odd that he would reiterate that instruction to the wives.

To submit is not to be inferior. Jesus Christ submits to God the Father even though they are equal in power, in wisdom, in glory, and in every other way. To submit is not to be a willing victim to sinful behavior. Christians are told to exhort one another to good works. We are told to remove the logs from our eyes so we can see clearly to remove the specks from our brothers’ eyes. When Eve was created, she was to be a teammate of Adam. (Four hundred years ago the translators working for King James I of England chose the term “helpmate.” More recent translations have shortened the word to “helper,” but “teammate” is more accurate.) They were to work together in their assigned jobs: to care for the Garden, to rule over the land animals and flying animals, and to be fruitful and multiply.

All Christians should love each other and submit to one another. I speculate that Paul told husbands to love their wives because the masculine gender is more likely to stray from their proper mates. Men are more easily tempted to be unfaithful; women are more likely to stay and nurture their families. (These are generalities—of course many exceptions can be found.) Paul stresses that husbands should love their wives because strong love will keep a husband faithful to his wife.

In the same way, I speculate that Paul told wives to submit to their husbands because, as love seems more natural to women than to men, their desire to nurture can be changed into a desire to control. Sometimes men find it easier to let the women in their lives control them than to claim leadership in their families. Men joke about being tied to apron strings and about the old ball and chain. Men notice that the love of their wives can be expressed as controlling rather than as submitting.

Husbands are to focus their effort on loving their wives. Wives are to focus their effort on submitting to their husbands. Husbands and wives both should love each other and submit to one another. Paul does not address the matter of who goes first. A husband is not permitted to say, “I’ll start loving her when she shows she has submitted to me,” and a wife is not permitted to say, “I’ll begin to submit when he shows that he loves me.” Marriages flounder over such arguments, because marriages consist of two sinful people trying to share their lives with one another. The only remedy is that greater love of which marriage is a picture. Christ’s sacrificial love removes the stain of sin, making the Church and each of its members pure and holy in the sight of God. Without that guarantee, marriage would be a burden. With the forgiveness of God generating forgiveness between wife and husband, the teamwork can be joyful. J.

 

Seven Mysteries of the Christian Faith–Chapter five: the mystery of the Church

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his body…This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5: 28-30, 32).

In the beginning of the world, when God created everything that exists (aside from himself), everything that God made was good. God created the first man and placed him in a garden. Then something was not good. “It is not good,” God said, “that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). God created a teammate for the man and brought her to the man, performing the first marriage.

The Bible frequently describes the Church as the Bride of Christ. In Moses and the prophets, the nation Israel was called God’s Bride, and the apostles declared that the Church is Christ’s Bride. Old Testament believers and New Testament believers are the same Bride of Christ, the same Church, because they are saved by the same promises. Before Jesus was born, people were saved through faith that a Savior would come; after Jesus died and rose from the dead, people are saved through faith that a Savior has come.

When God speaks of the Church, and generally when his people speak of the Church, they are not talking about a building. They are not talking about an administrative structure. They are not talking about a private club or a business. Instead, they are talking about the people who are saved through trusting God’s promise of a Savior. The mystery of the Church is that all these people, living in different times and different places, speaking different languages, diverse in income and political importance and education, should all be united in one body that is called the body of Christ as well as the Bride of Christ.

Phone books are becoming as obsolete as rotary telephones. Now most people look for churches on the internet. Look anywhere for a listing of churches, though, and you will find many different labels. Congregations describe themselves as Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, Pentecostal, Methodist, and many other labels. Some are Lutheran, some Baptist, some nondenominational. They can be Congregational, Episcopal, or Presbyterian. The Church is divided into many different groups, and these groups are as diverse in beliefs and practices as they are diverse in languages and cultures.

Ask God how many churches he sees in your hometown, and he answers, “one.” Ask him how many churches he sees in your state or your country, and he answers, “one.” Ask him how many churches he sees on the planet Earth, and for good measure throw in the saints with God in Paradise, and God still sees only one Church. Anyone who believes the promises fulfilled by Jesus Christ is a member of that one Church. Anyone who refuses to believe those promises is not a member of the one Church.

Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again from the dead to keep his promise of redemption and also to establish his Church. Seven weeks after his death and resurrection, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to the apostles to establish that Church on earth. One hundred twenty people were gathered together in the name of Jesus at the beginning of that day; by sunset three thousand more had heard the message about Jesus the Redeemer, had been baptized, and were members of the Church.

God’s Word has power to change lives, and the day of Pentecost is not the first day that people were drawn to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit. Moses and the prophets spoke as they were guided by the Spirit of God, and people were saved through faith in the promises that came from God. The first sermon preached to sinners was spoken by God shortly after the first sin. God called those sinners to repentance, and they both confessed that they had done what God told them not to do. Speaking then to the serpent through whom they were tempted, God spoke about the Redeemer who would repair what sin has broken. “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” God said, “and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Believing that this promise was true, the promise of an Incarnate Redeemer who would crush the serpent’s head, Adam and Eve were redeemed and became the first members of the Church.

Part of the mystery of the Church is that it is both visible and invisible. There are not two churches, one visible and the other invisible. There is one Church which is visible in some ways and invisible in others. The Church is invisible because no one other than God truly knows who is a member of the Church. You cannot walk down the street and distinguish people, saying, “That one is a Christian; that one is not a Christian.” Faith does not show in people’s faces or bodies or in the sounds of their voices. Faith shows in the words that people say, but even then you cannot know who means the words of faith that they speak and who does not mean what they say.

The Church becomes visible through the Means of Grace. God’s Word has power to change lives. Wherever the forgiveness of sins is announced at a gathering of God’s people, believers are present and the Church is present. Wherever the Bible is read and studied and its message is shared, believers are present and the Church is present. Wherever people are baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, believers are present and the Church is present. Wherever people eat and drink the ceremony established by Jesus Christ, believers are present and the Church is present.

If all the buildings were taken away from the Church, and all the labels and signs were removed, and all the administrative structures were stripped away from the Church, and its non-profit status was revoked, the Church would not cease to exist. Believers would still be alive on the earth, and whenever they gathered together, Jesus would be with them, as he has promised (Matthew 18:20). Wherever on earth the Means of Grace are found, Jesus Christ and his Church are also present. The Church will not cease to exist on this world until the Day Jesus appears in glory to claim his people and to begin his new creation.

When the Church gathers, though, all the people present are not necessarily part of the Church. They might be in the same building as the members of the Church, and their names might be written on the same administrative lists, but some people who are among the believers are not believers. If they do not believe in Jesus Christ and his promises, they are not members of the Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ. Some writers have crassly written that, as the human body has things in it that do not belong to the body, so the Church has people in it that do not belong to the Church. Whenever you blow your nose or use a toilet, you demonstrate the point those writers are making. Jesus had a gentler and more elegant metaphor, comparing the Church (the kingdom of God) to a large bush in which the birds can perch and make their nests. The birds are in the bush, but they are not part of the bush (Mark 4:30-32).

The Church appears to be divided into many warring factions, but God still sees only one Church, containing all the redeemed who ever lived, including those still alive today. The Church appears to be broken into many pieces that are at war with one another, but God sees every Christian through his Son and therefore sees them all united and at peace with one another. The Church appears to be weak, unable to survive the many challenges of a sinful world, but God sees the Church victorious, rising with Christ and living forever with him in his new creation. What God sees, Christians must accept by faith. When the Church seems to disappoint Christians, they call upon their faith to remind them that what they have seen is not the real Church, but God still sees the real Church and sees individual Christians as members of that Church.

The Bible calls the Church a temple built out of living stones (I Peter 2:4-5). The buildings where Christians learn about God and are served by him are also called churches, and they can be vivid reminders of the one true Church. A church building must rest on its foundation, or it will fall. A brick sitting out in the parking lot is not part of the building. In the same way, the Church must rest on the foundation of Jesus Christ and of his prophets and apostles. It must rest on the spoken and written Word of God, as delivered by God’s prophets and apostles. Any person who resists the Word of God is not among those built on the true foundation. Any person who rejects the redemption offered by Jesus Christ is not part of the Church. Like a brick sitting out in the parking lot, such a person does not belong to the Church. As a brick can be moved, though, and added to a wall, so God sometimes moves people and makes them part of his Church. He moves them by the means of grace so that, through faith in the promise of redemption, they can become part of Christ’s eternal kingdom.

The Bible also calls the Church the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12-31). All the bricks in a wall are pretty much the same, but the parts of the body can be very different. Together they are a healthy body. They do different things in different ways, but the parts all work for the benefit of the entire body. Eyes see, ears hear, hands grasp, feet walk, but each part does what it does for the good of the entire body. In the same way, the members of the Church have different abilities, different resources, and different opportunities. Some can support the work of the Church with generous gifts, while others can contribute very little material support to the Church. Some are talented musically, while others are not. Some are good teachers, while others are not. Some are good cooks, while others are not. When Christians gather around the means of grace, Jesus is with them. He guides his people to work together like a healthy body, each doing what he or she can for the glory of God and for the benefit of the whole Church.

The Bible calls the Church the Bride of Christ.  The love a husband has for his wife is a picture of the love Christ has for his Church and for each member of the Church. It seems at times that the Church is an unfaithful Bride. The unfaithfulness of Israel was acted out by the prophet Hosea and his bride Gomer. Hosea was told to forgive her wife and accept her again, just as God forgives sinners and accepts them even when they are unfaithful to him. Sinners are redeemed, not because they earn redemption or deserve it, but because God loves sinners enough to pay the price for their redemption.

Every marriage is a picture of Christ and his Bride, the Church. If that is true of every marriage, it must be true of the first marriage. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” How does the Triune God know how it feels to be alone? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are always together, loving each other, and doing things for one another.

On one occasion, though, one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity was alone. On a Friday afternoon, Jesus, the Son of God, took upon himself the world’s sins to redeem the world. Those sins came between Jesus and his Father so he could pay the price to remove those sins. In the darkness, Jesus was alone, and he called out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

After Jesus died on the cross, one of the Roman soldiers poked him with a spear—perhaps to see if Jesus had died or had only fainted—and from the wound in his side flowed blood and water. Medically, that indicated that Jesus had died and that fluid had collected in his chest. Early Christians found deeper meaning in the blood and water that flowed from his side. They saw the blood and water as pictures of two of the Means of Grace—the water of baptism and the blood of Christ in Communion. These early Christians remembered another Friday when another man slept—not the sleep of death, but still a deep sleep—and God opened his side, took out a rib, and from that rib made a wife, a teammate, for Adam. As the bride of Adam came from his side, so the Bride of Christ comes from the cross where Jesus died, and from the Means of Grace which bring people to faith in Jesus and in the power of his sacrifice.