Sunday, January 27, 2013

Here Comes the Bride-Groom?

Who doesn’t love a wedding? A beautiful bride, an elegant gown, a love-struck groom grinning (or crying) as he watches his bride come down the aisle. Tears during the vows, sore facial muscles from perma-grin after all the pictures. Flowers, food and fun.

Our eldest daughter was recently married. While it’s never easy to let them go, it was a joy to see her marry a fellow believer.

Scripture begins and ends with a wedding. The first one was the model of the final one, because marriage represents Christ and His bride, the church.

The church is represented in various ways in Scripture; it is a building, a family, a loaf, a body, a soldier, a city, jewels, branches and sheep, among others.

But the loveliest image is that of a bride; loved from eternity past, wooed in the present and kept into eternity future. She is a pure virgin, espoused to Christ. In spite of being marred by sin, because of the sacrifice of our Bridegroom we can be presented, “faultless, without spot or blemish.”

The Lover of our souls is Faithful and True. He is represented as a Bridegroom, who will forever rejoice over His bride. We will also rejoice when we hear the bridegroom’s voice.

In Song of Solomon, the King is represented as a lover. In spite of how the bride sees her own faults, he says, “Behold you are fair my love. There is no spot in you.” He never holds our sins against us. What a comfort! We can see our sins so clearly and feel unworthy of such a Lover, but He is always gentle with us. “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Such mercy!

Our family is very multicultural. Our son-in-law is Egyptian, so we had stuffed grape leaves alongside open-faced salmon sandwiches for the Finns. The wedding feast in Heaven will also be multicultural, with the redeemed representing all nations, tribes,  peoples, and tongues. Imagine the food!

Although the wedding itself seemed to be over before we realized, the marriage was just beginning. The marriage feast in Heaven will inaugurate our new life in the presence of Christ. How can we begin to contemplate eternity?

Most cultures focus on the bride. All eyes are on her. Women comment on her dress, her hair, her beauty. The wedding in heaven will be focused on the groom. It is after all, called the Marriage feast of the Lamb. We love Him although we’ve never seen Him. He is the fairest of ten thousand. One day we will see with our eyes the One we recognize with our hearts. We won’t be able to keep our eyes off Him.
"Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you." John 16:22

One verse in the hymn, The Sands of Time Are Sinking, by Anne R. Cousins captures this idea so well,

“The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bride-groom’s face. I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of Grace; not at the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand; the Lamb is all the glory of Emmanuel’s land.”
Pia Thompson
Originally published in Barnabas, Winter 2013

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