I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10 ESV)
Considering this verse today, I was reminded of my own wedding, little more than a year ago.
Thinking of that day with this verse in mind, I remember the hours we spent preparing: saying ‘yes’ to the dress, numerous fittings, millions of crafts, multiple food tastings, hundreds of phone calls, and thousands of dollars. And that was all before the actual day of the wedding!
The day of the wedding, we spent hours getting 9 women ready – and I myself, the bride, took up most of that time. There was hair, makeup, the dress, and the jewelry.
And all of that preparing and anticipation lead up to one single moment: the moment I dimmed the doorway of the chapel, when our eyes met for the first time in 24 hours, and I walked down the aisle to my groom.
This moment was so important to my husband. Because we were married on a Friday night, we were pressed for time to get all the pictures we needed and I asked early on in our engagement if we could do a “first look.” A first look is for the photographer to get all the pictures out of the way before the ceremony so that the bridal party can get to the reception quickly without having to do the pictures in between. But my husband would not relent.
He graciously made his few needs known to me, and the one thing he ranked the highest was having that first look happening as I came down the aisle. He didn’t want to see my dress, let alone me in it, before that moment, and after our rehearsal the day before the wedding, he asked that we not speak until our vows.
How could I refuse him? I laid down my needless want of dozens of portraits for his desire and I have never regretted it since.
His face and his response to me were overwhelming. At the time, I beamed, just smiling away as I tried not to sprint to the altar. The moment I stepped into the doorway, our eyes connected and we were locked in nearly the entire ceremony.
And reading the scripture in Isaiah 61 today, I am overwhelmed again at the thought that this is how I will approach Jesus someday.
Jesus’ sacrifice for us cleansed us and made us new, spotless, without blemish, and pure. Francis Chan words this perfectly when he says that Jesus did not die to make us spiritually neutral, but rather, it made us beautifully righteous.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. (Ephesians 5:25-27 NLT)
I am equally overwhelmed because there is one way that my wedding to my earthly husband doesn’t correlate to the wedding that I will eventually attend when I am wedded to my eternal bridegroom, Jesus.
All of the preparing and beatification I underwent for my wedding last year was a work of my own hand (Well, that’s not entirely true: I didn’t do my own hair, I have no skills when it comes to that). But the beautification and sanctification we will undergo before we come face to face with Jesus is thanks to no work of our own. It’s by Him and Him alone.
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)
We come to that wedding ragged and dirty, stained from our sinful lives and bruised by a ruthless world. But He has clothed us in His own righteousness and cloaked us in salvation so that we radiate His glorious perfection.
I had a beautiful wedding last year; it went flawlessly and without disaster. I am still hearing from guests that it was the most genuine, heartfelt, and comfortable wedding they’ve been to – to which I can only offer God the praise for! But again, referring again to Francis Chan, to the book he and his wife, Lisa, released last year called You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, there is so much focus – even in Christian circles – on our weddings and our marriages, but the reality is that the result of our following Christ is the ceremony that weds us to Him for eternity.
And that will be the most genuine, heartfelt, and beautiful wedding I will ever attend.
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. (Revelation 19:7 NIV)