We all stood as the beautiful bride, dressed in a stunning white gown, slowly started down the aisle. The music was sweet, the flowers fragrant. Every guest turned to face the bride, watching her radiant smile as she walked toward her husband-to-be.
Every guest accept me, that is.
Instead, I looked forward to the altar, watching the groom. Ever since my own wedding, I’ve realized what a touching and glorious site it is to watch the groom’s facial expression as he sees his bride.
The groom always has a look of awe and wonder as he sees this beautiful woman about to commit her life to him, and his to her. He has tears of adoration and affection in his eyes (though he fights them hard because supposedly #RealMenDontCry). The expression on his face is one of pure joy. I can almost hear his heart saying, “this one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23)
After all his searching, all the heartache, all the first dates and breakups, he has finally found his bride. This is the woman he has waited for. This is the woman he will give everything to, share everything with and love completely. This is the woman he will have children with. Grow old together. Grow closer to Jesus together and help lead each other to heaven. As Daniel and my wedding song so well puts it, this woman and this marriage has come not a moment too soon (Tim McGraw nailed it!).
Though I’ve watched grooms’ faces at numerous weddings, it didn’t dawn on me until the wedding we attended this fall. It didn’t dawn on me that Jesus looks at us much like a groom looks at his bride. Jesus sees us, his Church, as his spotless bride. Throughout the bible, there are analogies of Christ as the bridegroom (aka the groom) and the Church (aka all believers - you and me) as the bride.
Think about wedding vows. The officiant asks if both bride and groom:
- Have come freely and wholeheartedly,
- Are prepared to love and honor each other as long as they both shall live,
- Are prepared to accept children lovingly,
- Promise to be true in good times and in bad, in sickness and health, to love and honor each other all the days of their lives.
Now think of Jesus' love for you and I. Jesus:
- Has come freely and wholeheartedly,
- Loves and honors us,
- Generates and regenerates love for many generations to come as a result of his loving relationship with us,
- Promises to be true in good times and bad, in sickness and health, to love and honor us all the days of our lives.
He lays his life down at the altar and waits for us to also freely and wholeheartedly come to him, prepared to give ourselves to him as he has to us. And oh the day we do. The beauty, the joy, the love. It’s unimaginable. It's heaven, at last.
I imagine the look of awe and wonder written all over Jesus' face when he sees you and me ready to commit our lives to him. I imagine his tears of adoration and affection. I imagine an unmistakable expression on his face of pure joy. I can almost hear him saying, “today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
After all his wooing, loving, fidelity, and reckless pursuit of our hearts, we will have finally accepted him as our Lord and Savior. He’s always accepted us as his bride. He has patiently waited for our hearts to turn to him. He has given us everything, shared everything, and loved us completely, even to the point of death.
You see, I’m learning that marriage here on earth is a precursor, a preparatory school, a little little little taste of what is to come with the marriage of the Lamb. Marriage here on earth is God’s gift to us so we can learn what it truly means to love as Jesus loves and so we can learn how to love the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul and all our might.
The next time you’re at a wedding, watch the groom’s face as his treasured bride walks down the aisle. You’ll get a beautiful glimpse of how Jesus looks at you, his treasured bride.
If you’re married and looking for ways to grow closer together with your spouse and God, Daniel and I have become huge fans of Marriages of Grace. We would love to have you join us at one of their upcoming events!
I am passionate about supporting their ministry to Catholic couples in the Cleveland Diocese. You too can help couples attend marriage-enriching events by donating tomorrow on Giving Tuesday, December 3rd. We are so grateful for your support!