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Description: Christ Nourishes Us As He Does Himself
Christ Nourishes Us As He Does Himself
Sermon Transcript By Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I’m going to go right into the message because I’m very clear from the Blessed Savior that it is the
right one. It is this verse that we are studying today, Ephesians 5:29. As you know, I always try
to find from the Father what he has for us in our situation and expound in the light of that. This
is not the easiest verse to do that with, but God is good.
Ephesians 5:29—“For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does
We all know the context of it. Paul has got himself into the husband-wife relationship beginning in
verse 21, “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” And he goes on there. And what he
has just finished saying in verse 28 is, “even so husbands should love their wives as their own
bodies.” So the husband should think of his wife as his own body. He who loves his wife loves
himself. Paul is trying to emphasize that you are loving yourself when you love your wife.
But then the great step he takes is pointing out that this is the same as Christ does for the
church. For no man ever hates his own flesh but nourishes it and cherishes it as Christ does the
church. So he says, “Now you husbands ought to love your wives as if they were your own body. None
of you hate your own flesh or would hurt your body. We all know we would call that masochism if a
person just hurts themselves. Indeed it’s a perversion.
We understand what Paul is saying. I don’t look at my hand and think, “Good, I’ll chop that finger
off or I’ll stick a pin in this.” We don’t do that because we think it’s an extension of ourselves.
It’s our very own self that we are touching and what I saw through this was, “for no man ever hates
his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it as Christ does the church.”
Paul is saying the same thing as he said up in verse 25. Ephesians 5:24-26 — “Husbands, love your
wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
He’s saying again, “nourishes and cherishes it as Christ does the church.” If you allow yourself to
think about that and hear what God is saying to us in his word, after a little meditation you think,
“As Christ loves the church?” Of course he loves the church. The church is this great group of men
and women who preach him to the world and who try to worship him. Christ is sitting up there in
Heaven at God’s right hand. He looks down at the church and he loves the pope and he loves the
churches, and he loves all the people in the churches and he loves this little church here…. Yes, of
course Christ loves the church.
Except, when you stop and think, “He’s saying that Christ loves the church, the way he’s saying that
a husband loves his own body or his own flesh.” He loves his wife as if it was his own body or
flesh. He’s saying if I stick a pin in my hand I’m hurting myself and if I stick a pin in my wife
I’m hurting myself. And if Christ sticks his pin in the church he’s hurting himself.
Just as we don’t hurt or harm our own body but rather take care of our bodies, protect them and keep
them healthy and strong, so Christ loves the church. You mean the church is Christ’s flesh? And it
hits you in the back of the neck; of course, you are the body of Christ. Of course we know that.
The church is actually part of Christ and that Christ has the same attitude to the church as a man
has for his own body. Indeed it says that. “For no man ever hates his own flesh but nourishes it and
cherishes it as Christ does the church.” In other words, as Christ nourishes and cherishes the
church so a man ought to do the same thing with his own flesh.
Christ sees us as part of himself. He sees us as his own body and he nourishes and cherishes us as
his own body. The Greek words are quite interesting. The word for nourish is the way a parent
carefully feeds and looks after the child so that he is brought up properly and grows up into a
strong person. And the word for cherish is like a nurse who looks carefully after a person and
thinks of them lovingly and gently and constantly.
It begins to dawn on you, “You mean Christ is all the time nourishing me? He is nourishing silly
little Peg or Ernest – just puny little human beings? I knew that Christ knew my name but do you
mean he’s treating me as his own body? You mean he’s looking for ways to make me stronger and enable
me to grow up into him in strength and fullness? Do you mean he cherishes me as himself? It’s not
as “if” I were himself but he actually treats me as himself.
I know that only the Holy Spirit can bring it home to you, but it’s really something when it dawns
upon you that Christ personally at this moment is not only able to strengthen you but his heart is
bent upon strengthening you. His heart is bent upon nourishing you, upon making you stronger, upon
doing things inside you that make you feel as he feels.
I think it’s very easy with all our beliefs to be worn out after a hard day’s work, or to be worn
out with a sickness, or to be worn out with worry, or to be worn out with the noise and chaos of the
world around us. It’s very easy to ask God, as we know we are supposed to do, “Lord give me strength
and rest. Enable me to do what has to be done,” and then not to actually treat Jesus as one who at
this very moment regards you as himself. At this very moment he is laying his strength before you in
It’s very easy to finally still be lonely. It’s still easy to be one step away from God asking Him
(as if the verbal prayer is what is needed), asking him to give you strength and give you grace when
all the time Christ’s strength is within you and is available to you and can be experienced by you.
Irene and I usually ask each other in the morning, “Did you sleep well?” We’ve stopped giving each
other the details and usually say, “Not bad” which enables you to tell the other how you did sleep
without complaining. So I said as usual, “not bad” but really it was terrible. At 3AM I was up until
5AM and I was trying to fight through to faith. I didn’t know what I know now. God lit this up for
me and I touched the hem of his garment.
I saw that HE is able to strengthen me. He is able to change what I feel inside. Whatever emptiness
or whatever aloneness there is or whatever weariness or whatever strain there is inside, HE
nourishes me. He nourishes me and can nourish me this moment and he did.
There is a depth of reality here that I’m not doing a very good job at explaining to you but it is
there. It is that you and I the church, we are actually Christ himself. We are his body.
When we are pricked, he is pricked. When we are worn out he is touched with our infirmities. But
beyond that, his strength is able to come into us. I agree with you that sometimes he will not give
us the feeling. Sometimes we have to go on doing the thing believing that the strength is there even
if we can’t feel it. But I am saying that the other is possible as well. We should not fight for a
feeling, but we should know that we are not alone.
That came home to me this morning, “I am not alone.” I understand that all of us know we are not
alone, but I mean I don’t have to beat this thing myself. I can’t do it. I need his strength. When
we get to heaven we’ll find that the strength is all inside of us and it’s some other magical thing
that enables us to be energized without effort. We’ll see that it’s never the situation that the
strength isn’t there in the muscles. It’s all there. Christ himself is able to manifest or
communicate his own strength into us so that we are able to experience it.
It has something to do with this strange verse wrapped up in the marriage thing – that Christ does
nourish and cherish the church. That is not just a doctrinal, impersonal statement of great divine
truth. But that he personally, every second, is doing everything to nourish and cherish us his body.
And that means you and me –because we are each members of his body. And so this very Son of God is
able to nourish you and strengthen you every second. We are to abide in Christ and he in us. We’re
intended to live in that strength.
So it was a blessing for me this morning. I’d encourage you every time you face something miserable,
where you don’t know where to go with it, to just stay with it.
What helped me today as a prelude to speaking on this verse was the sense that there must be a
reason for the misery I felt. Could God be giving me this because he wants to show me something?
It’s good to remember that every dreadful thing we encounter absolutely has a purpose for it. It’s
not that things have gone astray. It’s not that life is beginning to unravel. It’s that’s God is
saying, “There’s something you need here! And I need to point that out to you. So that’s why I’ve
sent this to you.” It’s his goodness to us because we are so blind.
Let us pray.
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