Married to Jesus - Jake and Sara Ivanoski
Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
I have seen some wonderful examples of married love throughout my ministry. A husband holding back his wife’s hair as she pukes out her guts from the chemotherapy. A wife taking care of the children, the dogs, and the finances while her husband puts in long hours at work. A husband visiting his wife every day in the nursing home, even though with her dementia she doesn’t know who he is or what she means to him. An elderly widow praying to Jesus to take her home so that she can be with her two beloveds – her Savior and her husband.
Jake and Sara, this is the kind of love that we all want for you. A love that is not based on feelings or emotions, but on commitment and faithfulness. A love that takes seriously the marriage promises you make in God’s house today – to be faithful to one another, to cherish each other, to help one another in sickness and in health, to remain together until God parts you by death.
I’ll be honest with you. After being married for 20 years, plus blessing the marriage of so many couples, while also having my heart break at the breakup of so many marriages, I want you to know that marriage is not for the weak. Adjustments are continuous. If it were not for Christ holding your marriage together, some emotional moments could be the breaking point. The rugged peaks and the threatening valleys of marriage are not for the faint-hearted. Committed Christian marriage is reserved for those who cling to Christ’s redeeming love.
Jake and Sara went through a lot to get ready for this wedding. In-depth pre-marriage counseling with their pastor as we studied God’s Word to discover what God desires and gives for a successful Christian marriage. Finding a location for the worship service and reception. Finding a wedding dress and tuxedoes. Getting the marriage license. Wedding shower, decorations, and everything else that goes into making yourselves ready for this day – your wedding day.
But none of those pre-wedding preparations are anything compared to what you will be going through for the rest of your married lives.
Jake and Sara have chosen a wonderful Bible verse for their wedding text. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” It demonstrates that today is not about them, but about Jesus. We might wrongly put them at the center of our attention, but with their wedding verse, they want the attention where it rightly belongs – on Jesus. He is the Bridegroom, Jake and Sara and all of us within the Christian Church are the Bride. He is the only One who will keep their marriage strong, healthy and vibrant.
Jake and Sara, it took a long time … a very long time to arrive at this day. You are finally ready to be married to each other. But you are not only being married to each other, you are also being married to Jesus. He is the One who will give commitment to your wedding vows. Otherwise, the first time you have a disagreement, you will think you made a mistake today. He is the One who will grant you faithfulness to one another. Otherwise, when the feelings of love start to wane, you will look for love in all the wrong places. He is the One who is the foundation of your wedding. Otherwise, without Jesus, you will bicker, you will fight, you will fall apart, and get divorced.
The way to prevent failure in your marriage to one another is to remain faithful in your marriage to Jesus Christ. Your wedding text speaks about the bride making herself ready, prepared, dressed properly for her wedding.
Hopefully, all of us know better than to come to a wedding dressed in cut-off jean shorts, a tank top, and flip flops. Whether we are in the wedding party or an invited guest, we want to honor the wedding couple by wearing our best.
As important as Jake and Sara are on this day, all of us are invited to a much more important wedding – the wedding of the Lamb of Jesus Christ. He is the eternal Bridegroom. He has chosen us to be His Bride for eternity.
Just like we honor Jake and Sara by being properly dressed for today, so we honor Jesus by being properly dressed for our wedding to Him. We wear our best. The difference is that you went and picked out your clothes to wear today. Jesus has laid out your clothes and gets you dressed for your wedding to Him. He puts you in His very best.
Tuxedoes, wedding dresses, suits and spring dresses are great for today. Jesus has provided each of us with a special wedding garment to wear today – to wear every day – and to wear throughout eternity.
speaks of this garment when he writes, “For all of
you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ”
(Galatians ). You were given your wedding garment at the font at
your Baptism. You were clothed with the righteousness and perfection of Christ.
His righteousness and perfection that washes away all your sins, all your
filth, all your unworthiness and gives you a place in His wedding. St. Paul
Jesus did not come in righteousness and perfection to show us how to achieve those things for ourselves, but to go to the cross to provide them for us. He gives us life by dying our death. He gives us His seat of honor at the wedding feast by being forsaken, tossed out of the Trinity, and bound hand and foot at
Calvary’s cross. He washes our filthy clothes clean through
His shed blood.
Jesus is the faithful Bridegroom who didn’t wait for us to clean up ourselves (because we can’t). Instead, He came and laid down His life for His bride – you and me – to cleanse us and make us His pure and holy Bride. That we might have something to wear to the wedding feast.
But Jesus did not just wash us one time long ago in our Baptism. And that’s good because we keep getting our wedding garment dirty – dirty with cursing, gossip, laziness, pride, selfishness, anger, and whatever else we do on a daily basis. We keep rolling around in the sin and dirt and filth of this world. We keep making our nice, white, holy wedding dress filthy again.
Even though we were baptized only once, Jesus has provided us with a continual and constant way back to our Baptism, back to His cleansing and life, and that is repentance. We come to God filthy with our vile and offensive sins; we confess those sins; then He purifies us again with the words of His absolution; He makes us clean with His forgiveness; He washes us over and over again as we return to the baptismal font to have the one-time, but continual, waters of Baptism pour over us. As often as we need it. For the promises He made to us in our Baptism are not just for the past, but for the present and for the future. We repent of who we are and what we have done, and we will always be clothed with Christ and what He has done for us. We are once again dressed as His pure, holy and radiant Bride.
Preparations for a wedding are often filled with frenzy and agitation. But preparation for being married to Jesus means slowing down, contemplating our sinfulness and repenting of our filth. It means rejoicing that Jesus has chosen us to be His Bride. He has washed us clean. He has made us His own.
During His passion, Jesus made His marriage promises to us. As He had His back torn apart by the scouring, He made His vows of faithfulness to us. As He hung dying on the tree of the cross, He made His vows of cherishing us above all else. As He was forsaken by His heavenly Father, He made His vows of supporting us always with His grace and forgiveness. As He breathed His last on
Golgotha’s hill, He made His vows that nothing will separate
us from Him, not even death.
Jake and Sara, today you stand before God’s altar to make your vows of marriage to one another. That is awesome! But even more so, you stand here before God’s baptismal font where Jesus made His vows to clothe you in His baptismal righteousness. You stand here before God’s communion rail where Jesus feeds you with the marriage feast of the Lamb. You stand here before God’s pulpit and lectern where Jesus speaks to you in the love letter of His holy Word. You stand here before God’s altar, where you make your vows of faithfulness to one another; but more importantly where Jesus makes His vows of eternal faithfulness to each of you.
Jesus is the Bridegroom. You are the Bride. Jake, you will be married to Sara. Sara, you will be married to Jake. But each of you are married to Jesus. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! Amen.