On Sunday we looked at some of the gender implications of Genesis 2:18, the verse that says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” But there were many questions that time did not permit me to answer. Some people assume that the verse is a call to marriage. And Genesis surely does recommend marriage. But Jesus was never married. Did Jesus miss reading Genesis 2:18? Did He believe that “it’s not good for man to be alone?” Was Jesus “not good” in some way because He was single? The answer to those questions sheds important light on what this verse does and doesn’t teach.
We need to start by affirming that Jesus obviously both knew and submitted to the teaching of Genesis 2:18. He was the one who declared in Matthew 5:18, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” So how did He understand the implications of this verse for His own life?
1. He modelled a single life that was not alone.
If anyone could have been justified, living a solitary, independent life, it would have been Jesus. The perfect Son of God faced the attacks of Satan head on and was ministered to personally by angels (Mark 1:13). He seemed to be invincible! And yet He surrounded Himself with people. He chose to live life with sinful friends who at times got in His way (Matthew 16:23) and would ultimately let Him down (Mark 14:50). He shows us that we need people in our lives both for the support that they offer as well as the help we can be to them.
2. He modelled healthy male-female relationships.
Just because Jesus knew that marriage wasn’t on the horizon for himself, it didn’t mean that he avoided women. He asked women for help (John 4:7) and noticed the needs of women that others overlooked (Luke 7:44). He developed close friendships with women (John 11:5) and cared for the needs of his mother (John 19:26). He knew that each gender reflects a vital part of humanity and the image of God and so he made relationships with women an important part of his life.
3. He modelled intimacy with His Father.
Jesus experienced what every human experiences – that there are some struggles that no one else in our life understands. Rather than ‘going it alone,’ Jesus developed an intimacy with the Father in prayer that is a model for us. He was strengthened in prayer with the Father when all of the other people in his life had let him down (Matthew 26:40).
4. He sacrificed marriage for the sake of His calling.
Jesus attended at least one wedding and believed in the institution of marriage, but He chose to forego marriage for the sake of His calling. Having created man and woman and written the manual on intimacy, it would have been tempting to want to experience marriage Himself. But He sacrificed those desires for the greater joy He felt in His calling (Hebrews 12:2).
5. He knew that marriage was not part of our eternal destiny.
It’s easy to get the impression from many in our society that marriage is the ultimate goal of humanity, but Jesus taught otherwise. People came to him, wanting to show how ridiculous the idea of heaven was. They asked, somewhat sarcastically, who a woman would be married to in heaven if she had been widowed seven times. He responded by saying that in heaven people “neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). It’s not that believing spouses won’t be reunited in some sense or enjoy close friendship together in heaven, but there will be no exclusive bond of marriage between them anymore. Jesus realized that, in this sense, marriage is a temporary human bond that everyone will one day have to give up.
6. Jesus saw the celebration of marriage as a picture of a greater wedding.
Jesus compared heaven to a great wedding (Matthew 25:1-18), referred to Himself as the groom (Mark 2:19-20), and on the night before His death Jesus vowed not to have another drink of wine until He celebrates it with us in heaven (Matthew 26:29) in a banquet that others refer to as a wedding banquet (Revelation 19:6-9) celebrating the union of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). If you’ve seen anything wonderful in marriage, if you’ve witnessed the joy of love celebrated in a wedding, know that it’s just a hint of a greater celebration and experience of love that awaits all who have put their trust in Christ. Marriage in this life may elude or disappoint some, but the ultimate wedding banquet will not let anyone down!
It’s my prayer that none of us will “be alone” but walk in the fullness of the life that God intended for us, and to walk with the hope of the culmination of this life that God is preparing for all who love Him.
In awe of Him,