The word Bride can bring certain images to mind. Maybe you think of a wedding dress. The color white. A beautiful princess. Maybe even the Princess Bride. Or do you think of the day when you were a bride yourself?
For many of us, we dreamed of the day when we would be the bride. We are so excited that someone had chosen us to marry. And then...if you were a bride like me, you went into hyper-drive planning for your special day. I thought about every last detail of our wedding; my dress, the flowers, the bridesmaids, the food, the music, the favors. I wanted everything to be perfect. Which of course it was not.
If you have been in the church for some time you have heard the phase “The Bride of Christ.” Seems like a pretty simple think to understand. Or maybe not. It hit me the other day while I was doing house work (All dirty, sweaty, overwhelmed and flustered - because trying to clean with three small kids is exhausting) “Wait a minute, I don’t feel like a Bride and I sure don’t look like a bride!" I went on to pray Jesus, “Show me what you are really talking about with this Bride thing because I’m not feeling it!”
Knowing who we are in Christ is so important to growing as a believer. It makes sense to me that I'm God's child, that I'm His friend, and that I'm His servant, but bride just doesn’t make sense.
So I began to pray, read the Bible, ponder, and pray some more. This is what the Lord began to show me. If you want to know what being Christ's Bride looks like, you need to look at what Christ has done for you.
The Bible talks in many places as marriage being an image of our relationship with God.
In the Old Testament, Israel was called the bride or the wife. In the New Testament, the church is called the bride or wife.
Ephesians 5:22-33 (NASB)
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
So It's familiar to me because it names the things my husband should be doing, right? But what if we looked at this passage not as what our husbands need to do for us but what Jesus did for us - His Bride.
He has authority over us
He is our savior
We are to align ourselves under him
He loves us
He gave himself up for us - by His death on the cross
He sanctifies us - that is He sets us apart as his own
He cleanses us by the washing of water - through baptism
He cleanses us by the word - the good new
We are glorious before him
We have no spots, no wrinkle, or the like
We are holy
We are blameless
He nourishes us
He cherishes us
We are united with His body
Amazing! This is what Jesus has done for His church - His bride - for you and me. When I first started thinking about the Bride of Christ, I was focusing on what I did to be the Bride. That is easy for every bride to do. That's every for any of us to do - self. But it is not about what we do it's all about what He did!
Look at verse 32 again. I hadn’t really given much thought to the words, “This mystery is great.” This is what John Piper in Desiring God has to say, “The mystery is this: God did not create the union of Christ and the church after the pattern of human marriage - just the reverse! He created human marriage on the pattern of Christ's relation to the church...He patterned marriage very purposefully after the relationship between His Son and the church, which he had planned from all eternity.
Wow, God has such an amazing husband-like love and desire for us his Church. So much intimacy takes place in a marriage. A special closeness that does not happen in a father to child, friend to friend, or master to servant relationship. I have trouble soaking it in.
Maybe part of the trouble is a see all the failures in my own marriage, in the marriage of my divorced parents, and in the marriages of our church, and in the marriages of our culture. There is so much brokenness, fears, secrets, bitterness, dashed hopes. It leaves me not being able to see clearly the image of Christ as the bridegroom and the church as his Bride.
But the brokenness we see now is because of sin. It twists the good pattern God made for us.
But the truth is that Christ cares for us so deeply that He would call us his Bride! Yet we His Bride have such a hard time seeing ourselves that way.
Do you remember that line from Snow White. “Mirror mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all.” Don't we each crave’s to be a lovely bride. There is that deep yearning in our hearts to be loved, cherish, and cared for and yet no human relationship - friend, parent, or even husband - can fully satisfy that longing. We look at ourselves in the mirror and instead of seeing a beautiful bride Christ died for we see:
Our weakness - I just can never get it all done. I'll never have it all together.
Our failures - Oh I blew it again! I’ll never live that down.
Our imperfections - Oh if I just didn’t have....this hair, this face, this personality.
Our past - If only that horrible thing had never happened: that death, that illness, that addiction, that abuse, that abortion, that affair, that divorce.
The mirror is really good at lying to us. It’s our accuser, Satan! He will use our weaknesses, failures, imperfections, past, or anything to keep us from seeing the Truth - God’s truth.
Isaiah 61 was written for the Jews who were in captivity in Babylon in order to give them hope. These Old Testament scriptures are fulfilled in Jesus.
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
It was His perfect and complete death on the cross that accomplished our salvation. He has clothed us with salvation and arrayed us in a robe of his righteousness. We are beautifully dressed before him. He has made us his Bride. We are fully loved we don’t have spots or wrinkles when we looks at us. He cherishes us. He is passionate about us. He is the perfect bridegroom.
Here is a challenge for each of us. Every time you put a new garment this week. When you get up in the morning. When you change for the gym. When you go to bed at nigh remember Isaiah 61:10. Because of Christ, you are clothed with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.