August 3, 2013

The Best Bridegroom

NOTE: Tomorrow we begin a short vacation. I will be in airports five times, in hotels twice, and at our daughters for a few days. Our schedule includes a visit with a granddaughter we’ve not seen for a few years and exploration of the Smithsonian. While my daily devotions will continue, posting them may happen at odd times and probably later in the day than usual.

Widows are often comforted by an Old Testament passage that uses marriage as a figure of speech to comfort Israel for her failures…

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. (Isaiah 54:5)

This is one of many Scripture references that point to the spiritual marriage of Christ to His bride, the church. Because of God’s love, those who believe in and belong to Jesus Christ also are united to Him like a bride to a groom. In fact, God intended that physical marriage pictures that spiritual union…

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31–32)

Marriages today fall short of the ideal in that many of them do not mirror the relationship between Jesus and His followers. In Christ, there is no divorce, no failure on the part of the bridegroom to love His bride, even though she may fail Him. In that spiritual marriage, there are hurdles to overcome, but greater joy than any earthly union.

Christ is a husband who cannot be paralleled. Song of Solomon says He is “outstanding among ten thousand” and the fairest of them all. He also excels in tender care. If His bride wanders out of the way, He guides her back on track. If she stumbles, He holds her hand. If she falls, He raises her. If she is sad, He comforts her. He is ardently affectionate. His love letter is always available to bless her and let her know of His love, as is the Holy Spirit whom He sent to make that love as real as can be.

Christ also puts rich clothes on his bride, even “garments of salvation” and “a robe of righteousness.” Because of this robe, God looks on His bride as if we had never sinned. Instead, we are justified and imputed with His goodness “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This means He imparts to us “the splendor of his holiness” and works in our lives so that He can see His own face in us. 

This amazing Bridegroom discharges our debt of sin and sets us free from all payments, principle and interest. Not only that, because of our unity with Him we can overcome sin and eventually be totally like Jesus as we enjoy His presence forever.

Christ suffered poverty and scandal to gain His bride. He who crowned the heavens with stars was Himself crowned with thorns. He leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath to save his spouse from drowning. His love did not end with His life. Rather, His death sealed that love forever and His resurrection celebrates the reality of our life together. 

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