While Ephesians 5:25 is usually quoted during weddings to exhort husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, how often do we think about our Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom of the church? Is that our perspective when it comes to our Lord and all He does for us. The burden the Lord has placed in my heart for this message is that we prepare the bride of Christ by revealing the beauty of the Bridegroom heart of Jesus. As we know about betrothed couples, a bride is very happy to prepare for her wedding for she is deeply longing to be one with her bridegroom. In the same way, if we know the beauty of the bridegroom heart of Jesus, we also will love to be prepared for Him. So it is crucial that we receive this revelation of Jesus’ bridegroom heart for His church. We would then have a radical shift in our perspective of Jesus. Yes, He is our Lord and King, but He is our Bridegroom King.
For this radical shift in our perspective, let us consider and meditate on five things which Lord Jesus does for His church as the Bridegroom of the church.
1. As the Bridegroom, Jesus always intercedes for His Bride
In Heb 7:25 and Rom 8:34, we read about the perfect intercessory ministry of Jesus for all His people in heaven. Jesus intercedes for you perfectly on the basis of His blood, for all of God’s perfect will to be done in your life and that you be kept from sin and Satan. He is intimately concerned with all that you are going through and He is praying for you. In Lk 22:31-32, we read how Jesus prayed for His disciples even before they were sifted by Satan and how especially He prayed for Peter to not lose his faith. Even before we face a temptation or a trial, we can be sure our Bridegroom has already addressed before the Father through His intercession. So if Christ is praying for you in such perfection, then we need not have any fear, but security and safety in His sovereign care. As the Scottish minister Robert Murray McCheyene once said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference, He is praying for me.”
2. As the Bridegroom, Jesus always persuades and cleanses His Bride with His Word
The Lord Jesus uses His word and washes His church for her own good (Eph.5:26). In other words, all His ministry through the word is out of this Bridegroom love to make her glorious. Now, is that how we perceive all the ministry of the word? Also, notice that Jesus is a gentle husband who persuades His bride to obedience. In the Bible we are introduced to two husbands. Before coming to salvation, we had the Law as our husband (Rom.7:3-4). But now we have Christ as our husband. These two husbands are so vastly different. Unlike the Law which only commands and demands obedience, Jesus is a gracious husband who not only commands but also empowers us to obey through His Spirit (Phil.2:12-13; Ezek 36:27;Jer 31:33). Hence we can receive anything He says with unreserved surrender and obedience whether it is a reproof or a rebuke or a correction. For it is our Bridegroom’s word.
3. As the Bridegroom, Jesus always loves His Bride unconditionally
By unconditional love, we do not mean a love that tolerates anything. The Bible does not teach such a love that gives us license to sin. On the contrary, we find the love of God disciplines and warns us against living a life in sin (Heb.12:6-7; Jn. 5:14). Now, by unconditional love, we mean that in the Bible, God’s love is never grounded on any of my works, but in His grace. Hence we reading in Deuteronomy 7:7-8 that the Lord set His affection on His people because He loves His people (Deut.7:7-8). It sounds like circular reasoning, but there is no higher ground than that God is in His character love and has chosen to love His people. In other words, His love is not based on your merit but on His nature Now what kind of love is it that the Lord offers us from His nature? As we search the Scriptures, we find that the Father loves you as He loves Jesus (Jn17:23). This is quite a staggering truth that the perfect love with which the Father has eternally loved His beloved Son, Jesus, is now shared with all those who are truly saved in Christ. Secondly, we find Jesus loves you as He is loved by the Father(Jn.15:9). The Son loves you as much as He is loved by the Father. Finally, the Spirit floods our heart with this love of God (Rom5:5) so that we can experience in reality this great love with Trinitarian dimensions. Through the work of Christ, the Lord has redeemed us to experience the love and fellowship that the persons of the Trinity have experienced since eternity. What love is this! Can we be loved any better than this by anyone? Here we also learn why the mysterious doctrine of Trinity has been revealed for our practical benefit. For Trinity helps us to understand and appreciate the specificity and profundity of God’s love. In John.17:26, Jesus prays that He had and will continue to reveal the name of the Father so that you and I will understand that the love God has for us is the same love the Father has for the Son. The Trinity helps us understand the depth and width of the immeasurably great love of God. Hallelujah! Knowing this unconditional love of our Bridegroom Jesus helps us in two ways. For those of us who are tempted to pride, this helps us to know God loves us not because of our obedience, but because of His loving character. Also, for those of us who are fallen, this encourages us to return in repentance with hope as He always has room for you in His heart.
4. As the Bridegroom, Jesus always influences His Bride with His example
The way Jesus influences us is not primarily through instruction or commands, but by revealing His own character and example. Even when we study His word, we are ultimately studying the obedience of the Lord Jesus so that we shall be conformed to His likeness. Every time He calls us to obey, we can find His footprints to follow (1Pet
2:21-22a). We are never clueless as to what obedience would like in a situation, for we have Jesus’ example. Jesus has obeyed the Father perfectly in all circumstances and He never asks us to obey anything which He has not obeyed first. Circumstances change, but essentially He has faced it all (Heb. 4:15). Therefore, when we are on the path of obedience, we are never abandoned in loneliness. For Jesus never deserts His bride and He is always with us. Since Jesus has faced all temptations of this world, we can always pour out our heart regarding our struggles with confidence that not only will we find a listening ear, but also an empathetic one in Jesus. What a comforting Bridegroom He is! Whether we face fire or waters, He is always there with us (Isa. 43:2;) and even if we are thrown into a furnace for our obedience, He will be with us as “the fourth man” (Dan 3:24-25). Since He understands all our struggles, He is a sympathetic high priest who knows how to comfort us and make us obedient (Heb. 2:18) Are we, therefore, confidently approaching our Bridegroom in prayer for grace to follow His example?
5. As the Bridegroom, Jesus always sacrifices Himself for the good of His Bride
The acme of the bridegroom love of Jesus is that He gave Himself for His bride (Eph 5:27c). He was willing to love her to the point of giving Himself up for her (Gal.2:20). When it came to redeeming His Bride, He did not count His life as dear to Him. Now we should understand the nature of this sacrifice that this sacrifice and this love of Jesus will always outlast any sacrifice or love I can offer. We can never pay Him back (Rom.11:35) and hence we can quit any stress to prove ourselves as some great spiritual person and rest in His love. When we rest in His love, we can simply marvel at His wondrous love and let that wonder move us to worship Him at any cost. When we worship the bridegroom love of Jesus, we will not find the call to be separate and sanctified as legalism. We would rather understand the call to holiness as springing from the zealous love of the Bridegroom heart of Jesus who does not want to share His bride with anyone else. As we read, Jesus gave himself so that the church might be presented as a glorious church “to Himself” (Eph.5:27). Knowing the great price He was willing to pay to make us His Bride will thus motivate us to be a faithful spouse of Jesus free from all love for the world.
In conclusion, let all men especially husbands, consider this Bridegroom heart of Jesus and ask themselves if they love their wives following the pattern of Jesus (Eph.5:25). Even those who are single and considering marriage need to take a good look at this pattern of the heavenly Bridegroom to understand the solemn commitment underlying Christian marriage. When God calls you to be a husband, He is calling you to be like Jesus and love your bride by interceding for her always, persuading and cleansing her with the word of God, loving her unconditionally as Christ has loved you, influencing her with your godly example, and always being the first to sacrifice yourself when it comes to the good of your bride.
Secondly, all saints are called to love one another walking in the love of Jesus which caused Him to be a sacrifice to God for our sake (Eph.5:2; Jn.15:12). Do we love our fellow believers like the Bridegroom loves us? Do we love the saints by interceding for them always, giving them the word of God for their cleansing, loving them unconditionally as Christ has loved us, influencing them primarily with our godly example, and always being the first to sacrifice ourselves when it comes to the good of others?
For all these applications, whether it is a radical shift in our personal relationship and intimacy with Jesus, as husbands to follow the pattern of Jesus in our marriages, and as a church in our love for one another, the key is to receive the revelation of the Bridegroom heart of Jesus. Let us ask the Lord to reveal this heart of Jesus. Amen.