Jesus and His Bride (Part 1)
I’ve heard lots of wonderful teaching about how Christ relates to the Church is a beautiful metaphor for earthly marital relationships. I’ve also heard lots of good teaching about following Christ’s example as a chaste and holy unmarried man and the ensuing practical steps for the single life. What I haven’t heard much at all about Jesus preparing for his marriage. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about some heretical Dan Brown-esque idea that Jesus got married and had kids or anything like that. Rather, a while back I made it a point to take a look at how Jesus is preparing for his Bride, the Church, in hopes that I could learn something about this season of life that I’m in, i.e. being single with the hopeful expectation of marriage someday. So here’s what I’ve learned thus far.
First, Jesus loves his Bride very deeply. From the many metaphors in Song of Solomon to his earthly and heavenly actions, his sacrifice, and the beautiful teachings in Paul’s letters we see that Christ is deeply and passionately in love with his Bride. There are several places in Scripture that speak to this precious relationship, but one of the neatest is in the first five verses of Isaiah 62. God declares to his people in verse 4 that he will change their name from ‘desolate’ (or ‘Shemamah’ in Hebrew) to ‘my delight is in her’ (or ‘Hephzibah’) which shows his redeeming love for Israel – also known as Christ’s love for the Church. The next verse draws a sweet metaphor along the same lines saying that in the same way a groom rejoices over his bride, so God rejoices over his people (Christians). Do you have, and are you cultivating in your heart the capacity to deeply and passionately love your wife? This is not something that you channel through sports or competition – it’s something that you cultivate by spending time focusing on dying to yourself, giving of yourself to someone else, and serving your guts out for the glory of God.
Jesus also waits for his bride – his love is pure and wholeheartedly for her, and he awaits the beautiful wedding day that we see in Revelation 21 (see Matthew 26:29, cf. Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18). Jesus won’t ‘take the cup’ or celebrate again until the consummation and celebration of the ‘wedding supper of the Lamb’ – or more clearly, when we (the Bride) are reunited with him in heaven. Therefore Jesus waits for his Bride, and we anxiously await his return. Therefore, in mirroring Christ, I must wait eagerly, patiently, and purely, reserving my love only for my future wife. There are a myriad of ways in which to do this, but the main idea is to mirror Christ. Are you waiting expectantly for your wife? This shouldn’t be boiled down to Facebook stalking or pining away alone in a pitiable state on a Friday and Saturday nights, but rather in preparation, in discipline, and with confidence in the grace of Christ to provide everything that you need when you need it.
One of the really cool things we see Christ doing for his bride that is a bit more subtle (but is immensely important and practical) is that he prays and intercedes for his bride on her behalf. We see this specifically in Romans 8:34 (Christ died and is interceding for us at the right hand of God the Father), and in Hebrews 9:24 (he appears in the presence of God on our behalf). Men, do you pray for your wife? Do you seek to intercede on her behalf in the presence of God? This is a most precious ministry that we are given, and we must bear it well for the sake of our wives, and for the sake of the gospel. Pray for your wife, and do so regularly. If you’re single like I am, pray for your wife, and do so regularly. Pray for her purity, her salvation, her friends and family to encourage and sharpen her, and pray for your children.
(I’ll post part two tomorrow…)