October 10, 2021

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Epistle Lesson; Hebrews 2:9-11

Gospel Lesson; Mark 10:2-16                           

Sermon Text; Genesis 2:18-24


We are going to go way, way back to the creation of the world, and to the day God instituted the household.  This takes us to Genesis, chapter two, verses eighteen through twenty four.


The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is a suitable partner for him.”  Out of the soil the LORD God had formed every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and He brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  Whatever the man called every living creature, that became its name.  The man gave names to all the livestock, and to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal, but for Adam no helper was found who was a suitable partner for him.  The LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep.  As the man slept, the LORD God took a rib and closed up the flesh where it had been.  The LORD God built a woman from the rib that He had taken from the man and brought her to the man.  The man said, “Now this one is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.  She will be called 'woman', because she was taken out of man.  For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will remain united with his wife, and they will become one flesh.”


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



On Tuesday evening, I was headed up to the Twin Cities.  Every year, at about this time, we have what is called  General Pastoral Conference.  We meet for three days - Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  So, on Tuesday evening I am driving up to Minneapolis.  If you have ever taken that route, you maybe have noticed, if you like to listen to FM Radio, from about Baraboo till about maybe Eau Claire, it is hard to find anything but Country Western songs.  I am driving, and it is nighttime.  I have my radio on and yep, I have Country Western on.  It is kind of playing in the background.  I am not really listening to it, because I was thinking about the text I was going to preach on today, which is a text about marriage.  All of a sudden, (I am really into lyrics) all of a sudden, my ears caught something.  I thought, “Did he just sing, what I thought I heard him sing?” 

So, I stopped thinking about the sermon, turned up the radio, and here are the lyrics I heard.

“'Cause every single day, before I knew your name,

I couldn't see your face, but I prayed for you.” 


“I kept my faith like that old King James

Said I'm supposed to.”


I thought, “OK, he just sang, 'I kept my faith like that Old King James said I'm supposed to'.  The Old King James is a version of The Bible.” 

So, I thought, “This guy is a Christian.”

Then he sang,

“I kept my faith...”


 “Every single day, before I knew your name,

I couldn't see your face, but I prayed for you.”

I thought, “That is a cool song.  This is about a young, Christian man, who every single day, before he met his wife, was praying for her!”

Anyway, at the end it goes on, and says,

“Every single day, before I knew your name 

I couldn't see your face, but I prayed for you.” 

Then he says this.

“Girl, even today, I prayed for you. 

I kept my faith like the Old King James

Said I am supposed to.”

So, he has now met her, and he says,

“I am still praying for you every single day.”

He had this song that expressed this longing he had to one day meet this girl that he would fall in love with, and eventually get married to. 

I am going to use that to lead us into the longing the Lord created in Adam's heart.  But, before I do that, it is very obvious that not everybody I am talking to is married.  There are a lot of single people here with us.  All of you kids are single.  You are not married.  There are young people here who are single, and not married.  There are widows and widowers who are single.  You are not married.  There are people who, for one reason or another, your marriage has broken up, and you are divorced, and not married. 

I don't want you to get the impression that being single is somehow less than being married.  The Bible certainly makes that very clear.  For example,

-think about the most important Person who ever lived, the One who died on the cross to pay for your sins, redeemed you, and saved you.  Jesus was single. 

-Think about the person who wrote more books in The Bible than anybody, thirteen books of The Bible.  St. Paul, an incredibly effective missionary, maybe the greatest missionary who ever lived, was single.

The Bible even talks about the benefits of being single, when it says when you are married, you have to devote your life to make sure things are going well with you, and your spouse.  When you are single, you have the opportunity to really, totally devote yourself to the work of the Lord.  I have personally seen that.  I was just thinking the other day about some of the biggest, biggest funerals I have ever been involved with.  And, guess what?  Often it is the funerals of single people. 

-I think about Beth Krause, who used to be a teacher here.  She never got married, but boy did she have a big funeral.  Do you know why?  It was because she had the opportunity, being single, to affect so many other lives, and put her energy in to so many other lives. 

-Or, I think about Polly Brown who grew up here.  She never got married.  She ended up being a teacher, and then a professor at Bethany.  She had a huge funeral.  Do you know why?  It was because instead of devoting her life to her family, she was able to spend a lot of time, a lot of time with lots of people, having a huge spiritual impact on people. 

So, please do not get the impression that singleness is somehow less than being married.

However, by the same token, we all understand that in most of us, God creates this desire to be with someone, and have a companion that we can spend our life with, that we can raise a family with, that we can have children with, that we can have a household with. 

And so, we go to the first family God created.  That is Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  We see God saw that Adam was alone.  And it says,

“It is not good for the man to be alone.” 

Certainly, Adam was perfect, and everything was great.  But, if Adam had no companion, there could be no families.  There could be no children.  There would be no households that would raise children.  So, God does something really, really intriguing.  He creates in Adam this acute awareness that he is alone.  What He does is He has all of the animals come to Adam.  (Bible commentators say that his intellect was perfect.  We have to read books, and watch shows about what animals can do.  But, Adam probably had this perfect knowledge about all of these animals and what they were capable of, and what they were like.)  So, the Lord brings all of the animals, different species, one by one, in front of Adam.  And, Adam named every single animal species, every bird species.  Then, it becomes evident that there was a male and a female giraffe.  There was a male and female hippopotamus.  There was a male and female eagle.  But, for Adam there was, as the Bible says,

“There was no helper suitable for him.” 

The Hebrew there is kind of a cool.  Here is what it technically says.

“There was no one like-opposite him.” 

So, it is two, dramatically different ideas.  There was no one like him.  There was no human being like him.  And yet, opposite of him, different from him, who could compliment him, somebody he could pour his heart out to, someone he could love, care for, talk to on his level, someone he could be intimate with.  There was nobody like that for him. 

Once God creates that awareness in Adam, that is the awareness that young, Country singer had, this longing for a companion.  That singer was praying to the Lord to give him a companion, someday.  Even though he did not know who she was, he prayed to God.  And, I am sure he prayed that God would watch over her. 

Martin Luther used to invite tons of people over.  He was a great host, and he was a really compassionate guy.  He would invite lots of people over to his house, even when he ate at suppertime.  There would be friends, sometimes people who were in need, and maybe students he was teaching.  And, there were people who would actually take notes on what Luther said!  Those notes became known as Luther's Table Talk.  One day he was talking about marriage and young people.  I want you to listen to what he said. 

“Young folks are brought up in such a way that a girl is ashamed to ask God for a boy, and a boy is ashamed to ask God for girl.  They imagine asking God for this is a foolish thing, and they must plunge into this matter all by themselves.  This is why marriage so rarely turns out well.  Shouldn't a girl, in all seriousness, be taught to step before God, and say with all confidence, 'Behold, dear Father, I have now come to those years in my life, when I would like to become married.  Be my Father, and let me be thy child.  Give me a pious boy, and graciously help me to enter the married estate.  Or if it please you, give me the spirit to remain chaste.' 

“In the same way, a boy too, should pray for a girl, and should not begin everything on his own accord, but pray God to begin it, and lay the first stone  Such young people are real children of God.  They begin nothing without first praying, and paying their respects to God in this matter.”

I really love that.  Young people, or anyone who is single, and you are longing for a companion, just like Adam was, pray to the Lord, just like this Country Western singer did.  Pray to the Lord that God would give you someone who would be a godly, spiritually good person in your life. 

Moms and dads, I cannot encourage you enough to be praying for your children that if the Lord wants them to be married someday, He would lead them to somebody who would be spiritually very healthy for them.

So, the Lord created this desire in Adam to have a companion, and be married. 

Then, The Bible tells us the Lord caused Adam to fall in to a deep sleep.  The Lord took a rib from the side of Adam, and from that rib He built, created, Eve, a woman.  So, we see God did not give Adam the choice, so to speak.  He did not ask Adam, “What would you like your companion to be like?”  God decided.  God determined there would man and woman.  Marriage would be between one man and one woman.  That is marriage in God's eye.

So, He builds this woman, and then The Bible says, (and this is such a neat picture, too), it says,

God “brought her to the man.” 

It is almost like this picture of God walking down the aisle, on the wedding day.  He is the Father of the bride, and He is bringing this woman, who He has made, and He is presenting her to Adam.  That is how much God loved Adam.  He brings this companion, who He has made, to Adam.  It is the perfect companion for him.  It is the helper suitable, the like opposite. 

The Bible says when Adam saw her, he said,

“Now this one is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” 

The Hebrew word for 'now', is like this word, 'At last!', 'This is what I have been waiting for all of my life.'  'You are the one I have been waiting for all of my life!' 

So, Adam was so happy, and he was so thankful that the Lord had brought this woman to him. 

It is very much the same as when a man and woman stand in front of the church.  It is really like that from my perspective, being up here.  I can see the faces of a bride and groom as they walk their way up here.  You can just see that, “At last!  Now finally the Lord has brought me this person I have been longing for, that I want to dedicate my life to, that I want to love, that I want to be intimate with, that I want to have a family with, if that be God's Will.”  

Then, we say the vows.  The vows that get said at our church, (and here is where we diverge from what happened in The Garden of Eden) are different from what Adam and Eve would have said.  I want you to listen, and ask yourself, “What is different?  What would Adam and Eve not have said in this vow?”

“I promise to be with you for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death parts us.  I pledge you my faithfulness.”
Now, what is the part Adam and Eve would not have had to say?  Adam and Eve were perfect, and they lived in a perfect world.  There was no sin.  So, they would not have had to say the part about “for worse”, “for poorer”, “in sickness”, “until death parts us”.  And, they would not have had to pledge their faithfulness, because that would have been a given. 

But, we live in a world that has impacted the whole setting of marriage, because of sin.  So, I want to talk to you from two directions about how sin has maybe impacted many of you.  It is either because you have been sinned against in this whole context of family and marriage, or you have committed sin in this whole context of marriage and family. 

You know, God is so protective about marriage that He has even given us a commandment, The Sixth Commandment, You shall not commit adultery.  We believe the reason He gave that is because He wants to protect marriage.  But, I know there are people here who have been sinned against as it relates to God’s institution of marriage, and it is very painful. 

-I know there are people here who your spouse has been unfaithful to you.  They have had an affair.  It is painful, and it hurts terribly. 

-I know there are people here who are in a marriage that is hard.  Your spouse may be unkind.  Your spouse may be irresponsible.  Your spouse may say cruel things.  And, that is hard.  How do you endure through that? 

-I know there are people here todaywho has a spouse, who they wanted to be married to all of their life, has divorced them.  It is not because the spouse who is here wanted to be divorced.  And it is not because there was biblical grounds for divorce like adultery or desertion, but that spouse has just left them, and divorced them.  It hurts.  It is painful. 

-I know there are people here who are not married.  Someone has taken advantage of you sexually, in a context outside of marriage, and that hurts. 

The Lord, Jesus, loves you dearly. 

It is so amazing that when The Bible gives pictures of what Jesus is like, one of the amazing pictures it gives is Jesus' relationship to His Church.  It is like the picture of a bride to the bridegroom.  Jesus is the husband, in scripture, and His Church is the bride.  As we look at the love Jesus has for His Church, His bride, no matter what has happened in your life, no matter what somebody has done to you, no matter how painful it may be, Jesus is the One who said,

“A man will be united to his wife

And the two will become one flesh.” 

Then, He added this. 

“Therefore, what God has joined together,

let man not separate.” 

Now this is the Lord of marriage.  By that, He gives this picture of His relationship to The Church.  What He is saying is, “I will never, I will never abandon you.  I will never forsake you, ever.” 

There is this great passage in Romans, chapter eight.  Here is what it says. 

“I convinced that neither life, nor death, neither angels, nor demons, nor the present, nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else shall be able to separate us, shall be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

Now, that does not mean nothing can separate you from loving Jesus.  But, what it is saying is

nothing can separate Jesus

from loving you. 

That is the kind of husband He is to His bride.  He is saying, “I am committed, absolutely committed.”
So, for anybody who has been hurt in this whole regard, know you have a Savior who is absolutely committed to you, and will not forsake you.

Now, on the flip side, there are all of us who have sinned against this commandment, this whole picture of marriage that God has given us. 

-It could be that in your marriage, (if you are married), you have been thinking about having an affair.  Or, maybe you have had one.  You have sinned against God, and you have sinned against your spouse. 

-There could be that you are married, and you are hurting your spouse by the things you do, the words you say, by not saying you are sorry, by not saying, “I forgive you”, by not walking with them hand in hand to church.  -You could be sinning against this command by taking advantage of somebody who you are not married to.  God has reserved this intimate oneness, sexual oneness, between a man and woman, just in marriage.  And, maybe you are sinning by taking advantage of somebody sexually, that you are not married to. 

-Maybe you are involved in pornography. 

-Maybe you have hurt someone in some other way, in the whole marriage relationship. 

And to all of us who have sinned in this regard, again Jesus gives us this amazing picture of His relationship to us.  It is this amazing picture.  I am going to read this, again.  It is speaking to Christian people, and it is taken from Ephesians, chapter five.  In Ephesians, chapter five, God paints this whole picture that The Church, that is believers, their relationship to Jesus is like a husband and wife relationship.  Listen to how this is described.  It says,

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her, that He 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 (now listen to this) without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, that she may be holy, and without blemish.” 

That is such a comforting passage.  If Jesus were to look at you, without what He has done for you, think of the wrinkles, blemishes, and spots He would see in your life, the sins He would see, that would make you so unattractive to Him that He would say, “Why would I ever, why would I ever want to have you as my spouse?” 

But, what has Jesus done?  You see, this is the unconditional love of Christ, who is the husband to His Church.  He says, “No matter what you have done, no matter what you have acted like, no matter what you have said, no matter what you have thought, I love you.  I have sacrificed myself for you.  I have washed you clean.  I don't see your sins.  I don't see it.” 

That is the Jesus we have! 

I love what Martin Luther said!  Just listen to this.  This is so descriptive about the relationship of a Christian to Christ.  He says, “Faith unites us to Christ, as a wife and a husband are made one flesh.  When two people are married, it follows that all they have becomes theirs in common, good things, as well as bad things.  So, when you get married, what belongs to you belongs to your spouse.  And what belongs to your spouse, belongs to you.  You are one.  You have everything in common.”

He goes on, and says this.  “So, whatever Christ possesses, that now belongs to you.  And whatever belongs to you, that now Christ claims as His own.  If we compare these possessions, we shall see how infinite our gain is.  For Christ is full of grace, life, salvation.  We are full of sin, death, and condemnation.  But, let faith step in, and then sin, death, and hell belong to Christ.

You see, they are His.  Everything we have is His.  Grace, life, and salvation have come to us.  Everything He has is ours.  For, He is a husband, and He must take to Himself that which is His wife's.  And at the same time, impart to His wife, that which is His.  Therefore, we, the believing (listen to this) by the wedding ring of faith (faith is like a wedding ring that unites us to Christ), we, by the wedding ring of faith, become free from all sin, from fearfulness of death.  We are safe from Hell.  We are endowed with this eternal righteousness with life and salvation from our Husband, Jesus Christ.  Oh, who can value highly enough these royal nuptials?  Who can comprehend the riches of the glory of His grace?  Do you not see the importance of faith, which is the wedding ring that alone can fulfill the Law and justify without works?” 

That is such a beautiful description of what Christ means to us.  In the marriage relationship, as God's people, it is so important to have Jesus be in that relationship.  When somebody comes up here to get married, really it is two sinners standing in front of each other, making vows to each other, to be married for the rest of their lives.  And, the only way two sinners can do that is to know Jesus forgives us.  He forgives us, both, every day.  He is the One who gives us grace, and motivation to want to love, be sacrificial, and serve one another.  He is the One who, in His Word, leads us to be patient, kind, and loving toward each other.  He is the One who enables us to forgive each other, as He forgives us.  That is what is so important about having Jesus in a marriage.  And, we certainly pray that the Lord Jesus blesses with faith in Him all of the marriages that are here today, and that we model our relationship to our spouse, as Christ's relationship to the Church. 

If you are single, please pray for all of the married people here.

And, if you long for a husband or a wife someday, now is the time to start praying to the Lord that God give you a godly spouse.  I will tell you this.  I believe your spouse will have more impact on your eternity, than anybody else in this whole world.  So, pray for a godly spouse. 

If you are widowed, or a widower, thank God for the marriage God gave you, and the ability you were able to keep your vows, until death. 

There was a little boy who had gone to Sunday School.  After Sunday School, he got in the car with his dad.  As the dad was driving the little boy home, the dad asked, “What was the Sunday School lesson about?” 

The little boy said, “It was about Jesus' first miracle.”  

The dad asked, “Oh.  And, when was that?” 

The little boy said, “There was a wedding at Cana, and Jesus was there.  He turned water in to wine.  That was His first miracle.” 

The dad thought he would ask a higher level question to his son, so he asked, “What did you learn from that Bible story?” 

The little boy thought a little bit, and said to his dad,

“If you are going to have a wedding,

make sure to invite Jesus!”



Now, may the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord.



This next hymn, which is a great hymn, is actually a hymn that you can pray for your family members, whether they are living in your home, or not. 


Bless Our Loved Ones, Holy Father


Bless our loved ones, Holy Father;

Hear our anxious prayer;

By your mercy keep them always

In your care.


Jesus, Savior, let your presence

Be their light and guide;

Keep, oh, keep them in their weakness

At your side.


When in sorrow, when in danger,

When in loneliness,

In your love look down and comfort

Their distress.


May the  joy of your salvation

Be their strength and stay!

May they love and may the praise you

Day by day!


Holy Spirit, let your teaching

Sanctify their life;

Send your grace that they may conquer

In the strife.


Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

God forever true,

Bless them, guide them, save them, keep them

Close to you.