Is there nothing more elegant than a wedding? I love weddings. They are so sweet, so tender. The church is beautifully and thoughtfully decorated with candles and flowers. It is obvious that much time, planning, and forethought has gone into decorating the church for this wonderful occasion. Many of the designs seen are thoughts and ideas the bride has carried around in her head since childhood. Family members and friends come from near and far to witness the union. They fill the pews in love. The beauty and innocence of the bride captivates me. Nothing quite compares with that moment when the bride stands at the top of the aisle and begins the final walk with her beloved father into the arms of her awaiting bridegroom. It is there that they begin a new life together.
I can relate to the bride. I've been the bride. I know the anticipation she has as she awaits to join her groom in their new-found love and build a life together. I understand the nervousness she feels as she repeats the sacred vows. I also know the happiness she's found in this man and how complete she feels when she's with him. I love being married.
God is very good at planning weddings. In fact, He is the ultimate wedding coordinator. He arranged and designed the first wedding ever. It took place in Genesis 2 in the midst of a beautiful garden paradise called Eden. Genesis 2 verse 18 tells us that God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him." Then in verse 21 we see that God removed one of Adam's ribs and used the rib from the man to fashion a woman. It was there, in that glorious garden setting, conceived in the mind of God, that the heavenly Father escorted His daughter, the first bride to the first bridegroom, His son. Verse 22b states, "and then He brought the woman to the man." One can only imagine what a lovely sight that first wedding must have been.
Adam and Eve's marriage must have been quite harmonious in the beginning, for in the cool of the evening, hand in hand, face to face, they walked and talked with their Father. There was nothing to separate them from their Maker and nothing of which to be ashamed. However, we see that it did not take long for that relationship to be severed. In Genesis 3 the serpent deceives Eve into disobeying God by eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She, in turn, offers the fruit to Adam. Adam is also disobedient to God's command and thus, the fall of mankind and separation from the Father because of sin.
"For as in Adam all die...," I Corinthians 15:22a. When Adam and Eve, the parents, sinned they brought sin into the world and to all mankind, their children. With that, they also brought physical death and spiritual death into the world. Man would no longer enjoy the fellowship with God they once shared. But, God, the great wedding coordinator, had a plan. A plan that was conceived in His mind long before the foundation of the world. That plan looked forward to a future time when man and God would be united again. In this future marriage ceremony, we see a new bride and a new bridegroom.
Who is this new bridegroom? The Bible has many references to Who this person is. Let's look at what Paul, the Roman letter writer, says in chapter 5:14b-15,17. "Adam was like the One who was coming in the future. But God's free gift is not like Adam's sin. Many people died because of the sin of that one man. But the grace of God was much greater; many people received God's gift of life by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ... One man sinned, and so death ruled all people because of that one man. But now those who accept God's full grace and the great gift of being made right with him will surely have true life and rule through the one man, Jesus Christ." The new bridegroom is mentioned twice by name here; that man is Jesus Christ.
Paul also sets up for his readers a sharp comparison between Adam, the first bridegroom, and the new bridegroom, Christ. First, he says that Adam was like the One who was coming in the future, which is Jesus. However, where Adam's disobedience brings sin, death, judgment, and condemnation to all men, Jesus' obedience brings grace, life, no judgment, and justification to all men who will accept this free gift. Through Jesus' life on earth He enters the role as the New Adam, the author of a glorified humanity. He is the One destined to fulfill the Law in every detail and to win the blessings of the covenant for His people. Where we fail and become covenant-breakers, deserving the curse of the covenant, Jesus, our champion, succeeds in His role as the New Adam, the supreme covenant-keeper.
How is this bridegroom like the first bridegroom? Well, we know from the Bible that His role is similar to that of Adam's, yet He is superior in every way. Where Adam failed, Jesus was triumphant! Where Adam closed the door on man's relationship with God, Christ became the door for man to once again commune with God. Through Adam's sin and disobedience he brought death to all men. Through Jesus' obedience He brought life to all men. In the first garden, death entered the world. In the garden tomb, Jesus Christ became the firstborn from the dead. He is the resurrection and the life for all who are willing to accept His offer. It is through Him we have reconciliation to the Father. Jesus made peace through the blood of His cross.
So now we know who the bridegroom is in this future wedding. But who is the bride? And from where will Christ find such a bride worthy of Him? From the side of Adam, Eve his wife was formed. Adam says in Genesis 2:23, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man. For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." In John 19:34 we read that when Jesus was crucified "one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water." Thus, from the side of man came his bride, Eve. Could it be then, from the side of Christ comes His bride? As Eve is the very substance of Adam, so is somewhere, something the very substance of Christ? The Bible tells us in great detail the answer to that question. It even reveals the name of that sweet bride. In Ephesians 5, Paul writes, "He (Jesus) died so He could give the church to Himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other wrong thing in it." The bride of Christ is the church. She is worthy of Him only because of His death. She is clean because she has washed her robe in the spotless, purifying blood of Christ and put on Christ. She has died, been buried, and walked out of the tomb with the resurrected Lord. She has been a participant in His death and she will also bear His likeness in the resurrection of the dead.
We know that Jesus' resurrected body bore the scars of the pierced hands, feet, and side. He showed them to Thomas and urged him to put his hand in His side. Even in Jesus' new body He chose to keep the scars from His past. I often wondered why He wanted to do that. Why would He want to keep those scars? To me they would only serve as reminders of the horrible death He endured. But to Jesus they may mean something else. By this He displays the ultimate dowry--the evidence of the price he had paid for a counterpart! Ponder that, Jesus died for a bride. He died so He could be married. With His blood He purchased the church.
The new Eve, the bride of Christ, is stark in comparison to the first Eve, just like the contrast between the first Adam and Christ. The new Eve, the bride of Christ, the church is awaiting that moment beyond time when God will present her to the anxious bridegroom. It is in Revelation 21 where John gets a glimpse of the future. "Come with me, and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And the angel carried me away by the Spirit to a very large and high mountain. He showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was shining with the glory of God and was bright like a very expensive jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."
Right now, even at this very moment you are listening to me speak, God is building the bride for Christ. She is a new creation made up of the hearts of men and women made right with God through faith in His Son, Jesus. On that glorious day when the wedding of the bride and bridegroom takes place it will be evident that much planning and forethought has gone into preparing for this wonderful occasion. God will once again give away another bride, but this time it will be for an eternity. Never again will the marriage vows contain the words, "until death do us part." For there will be no more death or sorrow, the former things will pass away. The bride will win the victory that the first bride and bridegroom did not. "To those who win the victory I will give the right to eat the fruit from the tree of life, which is in the garden of God." (Revelation 2:7b.)
The beautiful bride, dressed in the righteousness of Christ, will walk arm in arm with the Father toward the longing bridegroom. It is then that God will present the bride to her bridegroom and the bride will become the wife.
One last note, that is a wedding I can barely wait to see! However, I will not merely have to wait and watch in cheerful anticipation as this bride is united with her groom, as I do at weddings now. I will not take up pew space for this big event. I am a part of the new Eve, the church, the bride of Christ. I will be the one walking down the aisle arm in arm with the Father to meet my groom at the front of the alter. It is then that we will begin our new life together for eternity.
Link to Christy's previous lecture - "God's Promise To His Followers"
Link to Christy's next lecture - "Our Kinsman Redeemer"
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