Look to Japan; look to Libya; look to the tornadoes ripping through the U.S; you can probably just look in your own household: our world seems like it is barely holding together. Amidst the devastation that has seemed to engulf the entire world, all attention, for this brief moment, seems to be focused on something quite different: a wedding. A Royal Wedding.
Perhaps we should take this moment to remember our own.
“And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a Bride adorned for husband.” (Revelation 22:2)
Throughout the Bible, Jesus’ relationship to His church is compared to that of a Bride and Groom. Jesus, our Bridegroom, in his infinite capacity to love, paints an immaculate and exquisite portrait of the ultimate “Royal Wedding.”
The Jewish wedding ceremony took place in three parts, each being emblematic of a much greater wedding.
Before the betrothal, intense bargaining between the father of the bride and the father of the groom ensued. The “Bride Price” was very steep, comparable to what today would be the price of a new house. After the price for the bride was paid, a ceremony ensued in which the couple was betrothed. Consider the “Bride Price” Jesus paid for us. It was paid not in silver, nor in gold, but in something far more valuable: his own precious, divine blood. Dee Brestin powerfully phrases it like this: “If we have put our trust in that blood, there is a ring on our finger. We are betrothed.” In the Jewish tradition, this part of the ceremony symbolized a permanent commitment—be reminded of the permanent commitment you have made and the price that Christ paid for the ring you bear on your finger.
The second component of the marriage involved a time of separation. The groom went away to add a room to his father’s house. The time that this took was determined by the father. The groom would bring his bride back in a great processional, but only when the father told him to do so. Meanwhile, the bride would prepare her gown, choosing out her fine linen in deep anticipation. We see a beautiful resemblance in John 14 as Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Our Bridegroom has gone away, but we must cling to his promise to return, knowing that he is preparing something more wonderful than we can even fathom. Meanwhile, we, too, must prepare ourselves. We must prepare our wedding gown by striving for purity of heart as we cloak ourselves in the armor of God. We are clay in the potter’s hand, being shaped as we eagerly anticipate what we will finally become.
And of course the last component of the marriage was this: the wedding and the feast. “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7-8). Can you even imagine? Be thankful. Be humbled. The Bridegroom has chosen you.
Our emphasis on our own sin and the sin of others shades us from seeing the beauty of what we, as the brides of Christ, are becoming. Like a broken world that has been reminded of beauty through a Royal Wedding, we too must remember, that even in the midst of a sinful humanity, the church is the beautiful bride of Christ.
The moment you put your trust in the blood, the most precious of rings was on your finger.