March 18, 2014

The Life of Faith

When a first-century Jewish man asked a woman to marry him, he looked into her eyes and lifted to her the cup of his covenant. By drinking of the cup, she became his bride. Afterward the groom went away for a time, back to his father’s house, where he built a new place for himself and his bride. At the father’s word—only the father knew when it was time—the groom returned with great fanfare and brought his bride home to live with him. During their time apart, the groom sent her special messages via his best man.

When Jesus lifted the cup of His covenant to His stunned disciples, they knew what He was doing. He was proposing to them, inviting them to live forever in covenant with Him. “My Father’s house has many rooms,” he assured them. “If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2, 3). He vowed that He wouldn’t “drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you” (Matt. 26:29).

This wasn’t the first time the Lord had proposed.

Long before, He had taken another bride by the hand. On eagle’s wings He carried her out of Egypt and brought her to Himself. “You will be,” He promised, “my treasured possession” (Ex. 19:5). Together on a desert mountain “they ate and drank” together (Ex. 24:11). The bride received the cup of His covenant and said, “Yes, I want to live forever with You in the Land of promise.”

But again and again the unfaithful wife wandered from her husband, breaking His heart. He eagerly desired to commune with His beloved, yet her love was like the morning mist.

If her unfaithfulness could have been excused by their physical differences—after all, she couldn’t even see Him—what excuse was left when she could see Him? He took on flesh and dwelt intimately with her. But her heart had grown too cold. Following a final week of shouting matches in the living room, she demanded her divorce papers, and brokenhearted, He walked out of their home a final time, leaving it to her desolate.

A divorced man, Jesus would turn to a new bride. That she, too, would wander from Him didn’t stop Him from lavishing His love upon her. Like His first marriage covenant, this new covenant wasn’t dependent on how loving and good she was, but on how loving and good He was. And He promised her a day—“I will make all things new”—when she would no longer struggle to rest in His arms. In the time of preparation, He promised, He would send messages of hope, of comfort, via His Best Man.

We are the bride of Christ. He knows everything about us and loves us anyway. He’s preparing a very special place for us, and will someday return with great fanfare and a trumpet call. We’ll hear and see Him coming in the same sacred cloud that once led His first bride through the desert. All who received Him then, and all who receive Him now, will be caught up together to live with Him forever and forever.

Said Jesus: “Yes, I am coming soon.”

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).