Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Bride

As a pastor, I have been a joyful witness to hundreds of ceremonies that have as their centerpiece the presentation of a bride. In the moments prior to the wedding march, I always stand at the altar with an eager groom and congregation, recalling a significant moment in Scripture. There will be a revelation of the Bride of Christ one day, and it will be glorious. Revelation 19:7 records it this way: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

When the doors fly open and the bride is revealed, my heart lifts with joy. I can’t help thinking of the day when the church will be revealed to all the world as the glorious bride of Christ. Revelation 21:2 describes the scene: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” She begins her march down the aisle as cameras flash, women wipe tears from their eyes, and paying fathers calculate what all this cost (often with tears of their own). With a smile on my face, I wonder if anyone else in the crowd recognizes the spiritual significance of this moment.

I’ve repeated this little mental exercise in personal worship for years—until last week, when I once again found myself standing at a marriage altar. But this time I wasn’t the officiating pastor. I was the groom. When the doors opened, I saw a vision of glory. Yes, the same spiritual significance I’ve rehearsed over the years crossed my mind, but it was drowned out by a louder thought.

This was my bride—radiant, glorious, and beyond description in her beauty. Her dress sang like a thousand voice choir. Her dignity transformed the aisle into a promenade. Her smile enraptured me.

I then had another insight. In that brief and powerful moment, I knew what my Lord Jesus Christ will know. The joy of seeing His bride prepared and ready, eager to be with Him. In that moment a world of sorrows will fall silent. In that moment the grave ceases to claim another prize. In that moment it will be worth it all when the groom sees the bride.

It must have been for this joy set before Him that He endured the passion. The cost was beyond calculation, but this moment proves that it is worth it all. His patient love and enduring grace crowns that moment with unspeakable delight.

And I know in a moment what He will enjoy for all eternity. You cannot forget a moment like that.

Ed Litton