Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Story of a Man and His Bride...This is My Jesus
Yet, in the midst of the mundane, God was doing a great work. Perhaps it could even be called his piece de resistance...the most profound work the great Artist had yet to accomplish. For within this week there would be celebration, commitment, betrayal, sacrifice, death, mourning, and ultimately--victory. The Bridegroom (Jesus Christ) was sealing his bond with his Bride (us) and conquering the unconquerable...death. That we may have life. What could be a greater work than that?
In ancient Hebrew custom, when a man and woman were to marry, the two would meet with both of their fathers as witnesses. The man would make a duel promise to his bride and her father. First, that he would pay a "bride price" for her (and by doing this show that she was worth a sacrifice of time or money to him and also acknowledge the loss to her family). Second, he vowed that she would be provided for throughout her life and redeemed if she was ever taken captive. Once the man made his pledge to the woman, he presented her with a cup of wine. She had the choice to accept his proposal and drink of the cup to symbolize her "stepping in" to this covenant with her groom. If she made the choice to drink of the cup that was offered, the man and woman were considered engaged at this point. The man would vow to claim her soon (though often bride and groom would wait for several months and sometimes years before consummating their marriage and becoming husband and wife).
Why the long-winded back story? Well, on one Passover night long ago, a man named Jesus sat down to partake of the Passover meal with his disciples. Little did they know it would be his last meal with them. He washed their feet. He spoke into their lives. And he offered them a cup. "This cup," he said, "is the new covenant in my blood." He offered them a choice to step into a sacred relationship with himself. He didn't force it on them. He doesn't force it on us. But he asked then, and he asks now, "Will you be my bride? I will pay the ultimate bride price for you--my life. I will redeem you from those that would come to steal your joy. I will conquer death that you may have life. I will give my all to you and I will come back for you even when it looks like there is no hope. Will you be my bride, and will you drink of the cup of covenant with me?"
The next day, Jesus was hung on a tree by nails from his hands and feet. He was left to die, and die he did. As the clock struck three he cried, "It is finished!" and breathed his last. The bride price had been paid. And yet, this was not the end. For three days later he stripped off his burial clothes and stepped out of his tomb. There was no stench and no decay. Death had been swallowed up in victory. He conquered death and redeemed his bride, just as he vowed he would.
This, my friends, is the story of Easter. The story of a man and his bride. The story of my Jesus. May we remember this, and may we drink of his cup proudly.