Reposted with persmission from Billy Hutto who shared this at Covenant Connections Church.
If you are married you know first hand of all the detailed, carefully and deliberate arrangements that are required for a wedding. Planning usually starts months and months ahead of the wedding, and is not uncommon to start even years before the actual wedding. If you are the bride you know this to be especially true, as in our western culture and most others the wedding is centered around the bride, not the groom. Grooms, you too take part in this planning, however it is usually the bride who labors most and harbors and cherishes those times in her heart most. If you’ve never been married, most of us have been in a wedding, or know of people who have labored to prepare for the wedding day.
It is common in America these days for couples (and parents) to spend thousands of dollars, and sometimes tens of thousands, on that single day. Reserving the reception hall and church, picking the colors and theme of the wedding/reception, the dresses and tuxedos, the music, the vows, the minster, the flowers and decorations, the reception food and decor, the photography and videography, the cake, picking the small things out like napkins and dining ware, the invitations, the balloons, and the list just never ends. It takes months and months and for some years to choreograph all of these things into the perfect wedding.
And all of that for one single day. That day will come and go just like every other day since God set night and day into motion. That day can never be relived, replaced, nor restarted. It is a day in history, and for the most of us a sweet day of precious memories that will live on with us.
This one day sets the stage for a lifetime of marriage to our spouse. It is, in essence, the launching pad for our marriage. From this day we vow to love and cherish our spouse, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. What a sweet experience a wedding is.
Several days ago, early one Saturday morning I was driving to my squadron, listening to some deep worship and singing along, praying at times, having a quick time with God on the way to work in the car. I was worshipping to a song about the marriage super of the Lamb. The song is an IHOP song I’ve listened to countless times over the last year or so. I felt the presence of the Lord come over me while I was driving and as clear as someone talking to me I heard the Lord ask me, “What are you doing to prepare for the marriage of the Lamb? Are you preparing yourself as the bride for the groom?” I quickly found myself in tears from just the awesomeness, for lack of better words, of being in the presence of God and hearing His voice. This was one of those moments when you felt like you had just been hit in the gut. I pulled into my squadron’s parking lot with a hurting heart. I had to quickly put on my military face and get inside for roll call. Throughout the day I kept thinking of those two questions God asked me. I just knew those questions were meant for me personally, but also for the body of Christ.
Later, after work, I had some free time to do some searching in the Word. Revelation 19:7 says “Let us be glad and rejoice and we will give glory to Him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself”, key phrase “…and His wife has prepared herself.” Revelation 21:2 says, “And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband”, key phrase there “prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband.”
In these two verses it is important to note that in both cases the bride was “prepared”, she took the necessary steps to make herself ready for her future husband. I think “prepared as a bride” means one doesn’t just become a bride by default. It takes work and preparation to become the bride. Can you imagine a wedding today where the bride was not prepared, the necessary plans and arrangements had not been set into place, nor arranged for? What kind of wedding would it be? What if the groom had prepared himself and expected his bride to be prepared also, but was sadly surprised? I can imagine that wedding would have an awkward undertone at best.
I love my wife Crystal with everything that I am, and although we didn’t have a big, elaborate wedding, she prepared herself to be the bride. If I, who am not good, born into a sinful world, love my wife with everything I am, how much more then can the Lamb of God, who is good and perfect love His bride? My love can be measured because everything I am is limited, but Jesus is limitless and his love is so great it cannot be measured. He loves His bride, you and I, with this same love. He longs to be with us, He loves everything about us, He is attracted to our human nature, He longs to wipe our tears and embrace us as His own. His passionate love for His bride simply cannot be expressed in words.
Right now Jesus is preparing himself as the bridegroom. John 14:2-3 says, “…I go to prepare a place for you.” In the ancient Jewish culture, weddings were centered around the groom, not the bride. They also took place in a series of events: before the betrothal, the betrothal, and the marriage. It was customary for the groom’s father to arrange for the marriage of the groom and bride to be. God the Father is responsible for this according to Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved)”.
During the betrothal a ceremony was held where the groom and bride to be would publicly express their desire to be engaged to each other. Jesus did this for us on the cross, as Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” There a couple of other things done in the betrothal, but I’ll skip those for now.
Last the wedding. Before the wedding, and just after the betrothal, the groom would begin to prepare a place for himself and his future bride, oftentimes in the home of the groom’s parents. The groom’s father would oversee this process and would not allow his son to go get his bride to be until he felt that the dwelling place was ready for the new couple. Once the father approved, the bridegroom would set off to get his bride, where his bride was waiting for him, prepared to leave with him at any given notice.
Right now, at this very moment, Christ is preparing a dwelling place in his father’s House for His bride and Himself! Again John 14:2-3 says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I am, you may be also.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is preparing himself for His bride! Yes, even Christ, who was tempted in every area of sin yet did not sin, the same Christ who was and is perfect and is spotless without blemish, the same Christ who has all power, all authority, in heaven, on earth, and everywhere, and sits at the hand of God, the place of power…is laboring for you and me and his bride. If this is so, and believe me it is, how much more should we, as the bride of Christ, live by His example and prepare ourselves for the wedding of all weddings, to the King of all kings and the Lord of all Lords? And the answer to that question is by every measure given to us.
Titus 2:11-14 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that having denied ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world, looking for the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to Himself a special people, zealous of good works.” This passage says it all, “we should live discreetly, righteously and godly, in this present world.” By doing this, we are preparing ourselves to be the bride of Christ!
This all takes full circle when in Revelation 19:8-9 John writes, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. For the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. And he said to me, Write, Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.”
We are all called to be the bride through Christ Jesus. Prepare yourselves as a bride who is loved passionately and immeasurably by her bridegroom. Search out the Word on living a life of righteousness and holiness, and then do just that. Jesus is not looking for a bride who recited a 2 minute prayer on asking Him to come into their heart and has perfect attendance in Sunday School. He is looking for a bride whose heart is genuinely given to him and whose life bears witness of this by the producing of good fruit!