AMAZED BY OUR BRIDEGROOM
Throughout the scripture God has described Himself as a Bridegroom or Husband of His people. Sadly, this analogy has also too often portrayed His people to be a faithless, wandering wife, but even in this dark depiction we get a glimpse of the glory of God’s astounding faithfulness in the face of less than ideal spouse.
However, beyond His faithfulness, which we examined in a previous article, there are so many other wonders of our Bridegroom to behold. As those who are numbered among His Bride, we would do well to hold them closely in our spiritual vision and even more closely in our hearts. Michael Reeves puts it this way, “Before all else, the Bride need to hear of the Bridegroom, of how good he is and how winning his love.” This is how we turn our hearts ever more fully to Him.
This has been, in large part, the motivation for this entire series—to cause the Bride to gaze ever more intently and adoringly at her Bridegroom, in order that we fall ever more deeply in love with Him. As John Piper has said, “One way to describe the Christian ministry is to say that ministers of the word are agents of God in betrothing the church to Christ. We seek to awaken faith in Christ, which creates his bride; and we seek to deepen love for Christ, which purifies his bride.” Whether one is in the full-time vocation of ministry, or an ardent follower of Jesus, our goal as friends of the Bridegroom (as well as members of the Bride) is to point others to Him, and encourage them to see how altogether lovely He truly is.
Our Bridegroom’s remarkable faithfulness is demonstrated by His steadfast and unconditional love. Poor Hosea was the living object lesson for this quality—being commanded by God to marry a woman of proven ill repute and then not only take her back after her unfaithfulness, but go and buy her back after she had abandoned him. Our Bridegroom did that, and so much more, buying us back, not merely with money, but at the cost of His own life. Greater love has no one this this, that he gives his life—and that is what He did for us. How would you feel about someone who rescued you from physical death? Now, how would you feel if it cost them their lives to do so? Jesus didn’t just die in the process of saving His Bride, He came to our rescue knowing in advance it would cost Him His life—that is our amazing Bridegroom!
It is sometimes said that men are the pursuers and women are the responders, and that certainly would be true of the Bridegroom’s relationship with His Bride. He is the One that pursues and woos—not just to initiate the relationship, but throughout. When a thought about the Lord invades our minds in the middle of our day, it is not because we decided to think about Him, but because He has tapped us on the shoulder. So, how do we respond? How often do we turn to Him when He summons us and engage Him fully? Or how often do we brush Him aside because we are too preoccupied with other things? Our Bridegroom, the Lover of our souls, the King of the universe desires to be with us in that moment. What do we miss when we turn to lessor things? What do we gain when we stop, and turn, and embrace the moment with Him?
The Bridegroom is also busy purifying the Bride. He loves us. For some unfathomable reason He desires us, and He intends to present us spotless and without blemish to His Father (Eph. 5:25-27). It is as if He says, “Abba, look at my Bride! Isn’t she beautiful? See how I’ve arrayed her in the finest of linen. She is radiant, pure, and thoroughly fit for me. Abba, I love her so much, and am excited to spend all eternity with my Beloved!” We will be pure and spotless—because He has washed us in His own blood, and is cleansing and making us fit for Him.
But if the Bride has been made beautiful, the beauty of the Bridegroom is intrinsic to His nature. We may take a more in depth look at His beauty in a future article, but for our purposes here, let us just refer to Psalm 45:2 which says that He is “the most handsome of men,” and the Song of Solomon which lauds the beauty of the Beloved. It stands to reason that the Creator of all the beauties in the universe should far outshine them. In fact, we would benefit greatly in our endeavor to adore our Bridegroom if, when we see the beauty in His creation around us would think, “If this that You have created is so lovely (or intricate, complex, captivating, amazing), how beautiful You must be!”
However, we must also remember that this most beautiful of all beings allowed Himself to be marred for our sakes—to be beaten and torn, and disfigured until He hardly resembled a human, let alone the Beautiful One. Michael Reeves said, “Jesus the Son was eternally the spotless epitome of beauty. Yet for his Bride this beautiful one would be lifted up on the cross and there disfigured…His beard pulled out, his body pierced and lacerated, bloodied, beaten and spat upon: the king in his beauty became gruesome and horrifying to behold… Out of sheer and boundless love for his bride, he took her sickness upon himself, with all the consequence of her sin. He took her ugliness that she might have his loveliness.” And as the hymn says, “those wounds yet visible above”—He will bear those scars of His love for us throughout all eternity. That is what our amazing Bridegroom did for us!
And, yet, despite this mighty, awful cost of the dowry for His Bride, the Book of Revelation portrays the wedding feast of the Lamb to be a wondrous and welcome event. The Bridegroom will delight in the beauty of His Bride, and we will rejoice in Him, for we will see Him as He is. If we think we love Him now, it will not come close to that day. It is almost like it is not the Bride who wears the veil, but the Groom, and it will be pulled back so we can behold His radiance and beauty on that day.
If we truly belong to Him now we will desire to see and know Him as much as we can here and now. We are in our betrothal period, that time when we delve as deeply as we can into the who of the person to whom we have pledged ourselves. It is the time when we thrill to their voice, tingle at their touch, read their written words to us over and over again to wring out every drop of love and understanding contained in them. May that be true of us toward our Bridegroom. May He become ever dearer to our hearts, even more beautiful to our eyes, ever sweeter in our thoughts, until that day we will be with our Beloved forever.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries