4. The Cinderella Bride
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them, He shall lead them to Living Fountains of Waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. [Revelation 7:17]
Before all creation, before the powerful holy angels, before all the Heavenly Court, the Bridegroom takes His Bride by the hand and leads – us! – to the Head Table, His Table, the Lord’s Table; to be at His side, there to personally feed us as nowadays a bridegroom feeds his bride the wedding cake. Bold and proud is He to have us at His Table.
Let’s Brake for Sin
“I brake for yard sales” is a bumper sticker that indicates the driver’s interest. When a yard sale comes along, this person will stop and investigate. We have that same problem with sin. Too often when sin provides an opportunity, unfortunately we are quick to slam on the brakes to get a better view and perhaps to browse a bit among its wares.
What is sin, anyway? To give an example, how often when we are about to do something wrong, somewhere along the line the thought flashes through our mind that this is indeed wrong? Likely every time, if we look closely enough. But we have made up our mind that the “benefits” (which most often backfire and often turn into a slavery rather than a blessing) cannot be passed by.
So despite knowing better, we go ahead anyway. Sin is not a mistake or an error. It is intentional rebellion. That is why Satan has Eve recall the command of Jehovah (Genesis 3:1-3), because he is not interested in merely an blunder or a lapse of memory – he wants outright revolt. And he is not interested in us merely tripping – he wants us to refuse to follow God’s will.
Is this the Bride that Jesus proudly takes to dinner – this Bride who has been so intent on rebelling? This is the Bride that He would die for? He really must have some kind of Love!
No Fairy Godmother??
There is no fairy godmother in this story to make the Bride beautiful. There are not even attendants to prepare her for the Marriage Feast. In fact, she does not even prepare herself. Unlike the fairy tales, the Bride is not first made beautiful, and only then will the Bridegroom fall in Love with her. In fact, she is not even interested in such a relationship!
God asserts His Love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. … while we were enemies we were reconciled to God … [Romans 5:8, 10]
– while she is still in the gutter, already the Bridegroom has Loved His Bride.
No Magic Wand
There is no simple “speak a few words and poof! the Bride is now beautiful.” To take His Bride requires that debts be paid, and paid in full, or else she would never belong to Him. It is a steep cost that she – we – could in no way pay:
A brother cannot at all redeem a man, nor give to God a ransom for him – for costly is the redemption of their Soul … [Psalm 49:7-8]
The Bridegroom must pay life-for-life in order to free His Bride from the debts of her sin. Is it worth the risk to go so far for a Bride who is not merely uninterested in Him, but rather in active rebellion? What if He “does all,” and she still is indifferent? In fact, He does die for many who merely just ridicule or ignore Him. Indeed, He knows what it is like to be “stood up.” The cross is no magic wand.
From Rags To Palace – The Bride is Won
But many are drawn to Him because of what He has done. In wonder His Bride considers herself and can not grasp why the Bridegroom chooses her, why He so willingly makes such a dear payment – an expensive payment, but also such a cherished one. But it does not matter that she does not understand – the fact is that He does it.
… [II Timothy 1:9]
The Bride is Made Beautiful
The Royal Bath
… [ Ephesians 5:25-27]
Trusting the work to no one lesser – in fact, no one else could do it –, He prepares the Bride for the Wedding Feast. He takes her by the hand and sets about to clean her up. In loving care, He washes her “with the water and the Word.” It is His desire and joy to prepare her – it is by grace alone. He does not merely give her “the water and the Word,” with instructions to clean herself up. This is at His initiative: “according to His mercy He saved us” [Titus 3:5], “because He first Loved us” [1 John 4:19] – she did not first come to Him with the idea to be cleaned up.
He Himself scrubs away, and behold, what beauty emerges! The scarred, even downright ugly places in the Bride are not just cleansed, but are actually changed: the callused becomes soft; the decayed places rebuilt; the emptiness is filled – the Bride is created anew. All the painful spots He tenderly addresses, the stings and bruises that must be healed.
… [Isaiah 61:3]
The Radiant Bride
… [Ezekiel 16:8-14; Galatians 3:27]
What a vision of loveliness! He clothes His Bride with – Himself! “… that we might become God’s righteousness in Him” [2 Corinthians 5:21]. She is truly a radiant Bride, shining with the glory of God’s own righteousness.
However, again this is not so that she might present herself to Him, but that “He might present to Himself the Glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but that she might be holy and with