Thursday, August 25, 2011
A friend of mine likes to say, “All men marry up!” In other words, all husbands are made better by their wives, whom they don't deserve. I think there's some worldly wisdom in that, but it made me think deeper. What about the great spiritual marriage of the Lamb and of his Bride the Church?
Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom, and we, the church, are his Bride. So Scripture paints the picture. In Revelation 21, for example, you have the Bride beautifully adorned and presented to her husband:
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God... (Rev. 21:9-11a)
Here, the church in her glory is pictured not only as the Bride but also as the Holy City of Jerusalem, but in idealized form. Radiant like a jewel, 12 magnificent gates, streets paved of gold... but no temple. For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb ARE the temple. There is such perfect union with God, that his people don't need a special place to meet Him. He is with them always, perfectly.
So it's really proper to say, in this case, the Bride “marries up”. He finds His Bride in the gutter, dirty and dead. With all the ugliness and impurity of our sin, helpless and hopeless. But the Bridegroom rescues us from all of that. He restores, renews, even resurrects us and takes us to the altar. He pledges Himself to us forever. Not even death will us part.
We, the church, marry up, not only to a far better bridegroom than we deserve, but we marry up to an blessed eternity and a glorious forever with our God. Because the Bridegroom died and rose. The dowry, the bridal price, is paid in His blood, more precious than all the gold in the world. And yet, like all His gifts, it is given freely.
In other words, YOU are blessed to be a part of that great spiritual marriage. You are part of the Body of Christ, connected to Him in Baptism, sustained at the rail with his own Body and Blood. You are blessed to hear His Word, that life-giving, life-sustaining word of Gospel. And in that Word, the promises abound. The future is bright. In that Word, Heaven is yours.