“Then the angel said to me, Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:9, NIV
Who doesn’t love a wedding? Not long ago, the entire world watched enthralled as Prince William and Kate Middleton were joined in a royal wedding at Westminster Abbey. Some referred to it as the “perfect wedding.” Soon all who have chosen to have a relationship with Jesus will be invited to their own perfect wedding. Those who attend that wedding will truly live “happily ever after.”
Why does the Bible use the symbolism of marriage to represent our relationship to Jesus? If we go back to the Bible’s first book, we find God saying “…Let us make man in our image…” Genesis 1:26, NIV The next verse goes on to say “…male and female he created them…” Clearly the image of God is found in the union of the two and not from either alone. In the next chapter we read “The LORD God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18, NIV Something about the union of a man and a woman expresses more fully the image of God in mankind. As man and woman “…become one flesh…” (See verse 24) they illustrate in their union the union that exists in the relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus referred to this union when He said, “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30, NIV In the beginning, man and woman were united to each other and both were united to God.
Eventually, the union was fractured. Those who had been so loved and cherished by God, chose a relationship to another. They chose the lies of Satan over the loving connection they had to God. This not only damaged the relationship they had with God, but it also fractured the relationship they had with one another. The woman who had enjoyed equality with man would now find him ruling over her. The millennia since have been filled with the cruelty and oppression that has arisen from that. Man himself has found that his pleasant existence has been replaced with a life of hard toil to provide for himself and his family. Pleasant tasks that had been a blessing in the Garden of Eden, now became onerous and difficult. As man had been created to portray the image of God, now he would portray the image of the one who had led him astray.
Soon, Adam and Eve saw the results of that new relationship when their eldest boy murdered his brother in a fit of jealous rage. He was faithfully representing the image of Satan. Jesus said of the Devil, “…He was a murderer from the beginning…” John 8:44, NIV Through the centuries, that tarnished image led to such evil that God brought a flood to stem the tide of depravity and violence. Even that could not halt the downward progression of mankind. Mankind had not only severed the relationship with God who loved him, but even stooped so low as to murder on a cross, Jesus, who had come as God’s love in the flesh to restore the relationship.
In spite of the downward trend, though, there were some who wanted to have the broken relationship restored. Individuals like Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others have been like points of lights in an otherwise dark universe. Struggling against what seemed at times like horrendous odds, they persevered. The book of Hebrews, in the 11th chapter, tells of how men of faith grasped in hope for that relationship when all around them told them not to. In verse 38, we are told “…the world was not worthy of them…” Everywhere around they could see in men the image of the fallen one, but in their hearts burned a fire of a better image. That fire led them to strive to share that image with the world.
The book of Hosea in the Old Testament, tells of events in Hosea’s life that were an allegory for the broken relationship between God and man. Hosea’s wife had left him for relationships with other men. Anyone who has ever felt the pain of a betrayed relationship could probably understand the pain this must have caused Hosea. It is also a small idea of the pain that God must have suffered when mankind left the heavenly relationship. Hosea went after his wife and reclaimed her. Even though she had rejected him, he sought to restore their bond.
Today, we would probably question his wisdom. But this is exactly what God is seeking to do with us. He wants to restore the relationship we once had. He is seeking out those who desire something more than the Devil offers. He goes to the darkest holes, and most depraved dens seeking those who will come to His love. He knows that those who are the deepest in sin know how little it offers. They are more ready to come to him than those who are satisfied with life in their self sufficiency. The first know that nothing they are doing without God is working. The latter do not even know they are in need of anything.
Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast spoke of these two classes of people. Those in the first class were not only not interested in coming to the wedding feast, they persecuted those who were proclaiming the feast. They were actively opposing the King and His servants. As a result, they lost all chance to come to the feast. Instead the King extended his invitation to the second class, while some might be considered less desirable than those in the first class, they were willing to come to the feast, and they enjoyed the blessing missed by the others.
Unfortunately, even among these was found someone who came for the feast but did not desire a loving relationship with the King. However, without the wedding there can be no wedding feast. Without the relationship, he could not receive the blessing that might otherwise be his.
The parable uses the symbolism of a wedding garment to make the point. If you are there for the wedding, you dress for the wedding. If you are not, you don’t. His dress condemned him and when confronted, he was speechless. What could he say? His image was not in harmony with that of his King, but with another. The King could only return him to the relationship he preferred, even though that relationship promised only “…weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13, NIV
Friends, we are invited to a wedding feast, and Christ himself is providing us a wedding garment that truly reflects His image. It is woven of the righteousness that He offers us through His death on the cross. He died for the love He had for us. He so much desired that we reunite with Him that he crossed time and space to a small hill outside of Jerusalem in order to make it happen. He suffered the pain and anguish that was ours to give us the love and peace that are His.
I want to return to a love like that. I want to have the image that we were created in. I want to trade the emptiness and despair that the Devil offers for a real relationship with the One who created me. I want Jesus to come into my heart and restore His image in me. Wouldn’t you like that, too? Just ask Him.