Over the past four weekends, my husband and I attended three out-of-town weddings. Though we’re done attending weddings for the foreseeable future, I can’t get weddings off my mind.
At the most recent wedding I attended, the pastor reminded the guests of a truth I had heard before but too often forget: The Bible begins and ends with a wedding.
I know that what I believe about the future shapes how I live today. And the pastor’s statement caused me to ask two questions: How should the wedding supper of the Lamb shape the way I live today? And how can the weddings I attend grow my understanding of what it means to live in light of that ultimate wedding feast?
As I considered these questions, three things came to mind.
Weddings require preparation
Perhaps this is an obvious statement, but weddings don’t just happen. They require planning and preparation. Hang around any bride or groom and you’ll realize the to-do list that comes with even the simplest of weddings.
And the wedding of the Lamb is the same. As brides and grooms send invitations to their guests, we are called to share the news of the wedding feast of the Lamb with others. As a bride carefully selects her dress and plans her hair and makeup, believers are called to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:23). As wedding preparations include engagement parties, wedding showers and bachelor parties, we invite people into our homes for meals to provide a foretaste of what is to come when we feast on Mount Zion.
Considering the new heaven and new earth can often feel abstract when I consider how to live now. Weddings help me understand what work I need to be about now as I await the future wedding of Christ and His bride.
Weddings unite people
At every wedding, there is one thing that all the guests have in common. Although the wedding guests usually have different ages, jobs, socioeconomics, ethnicities, race, etc., they are unified because they love and are committed to the bride and/or groom.
When we look at other passages about the new heaven and new earth in tandem with Revelation, we realize the diversity of wedding guests offers us a glimpse of what is to come. I love this passage from Isaiah 25:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined…
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
As wedding guests gather to celebrate the couple, we will gather with other believers from around the world to worship our God. I don’t get to set the wedding guest list. Instead, I have the privilege of joining with the other invitees in celebration of the Lamb. And what a great gift that as I wait for the wedding supper of the Lamb, I can join with my other participants through the local church to prepare.
Weddings are prophetic covenantal celebrations
When we attend a wedding, we witness two people binding themselves together in a covenant. But weddings are more than just making a covenant. We also know from Scripture that weddings are meant to give us a foretaste of the festivities we will experience when the church is united with her Groom.
Jesus’s first miracle recorded in John 2 reminds us of this truth. Jesus began His public ministry at a wedding. When the hosts ran out wine for their celebration, Jesus covers their shame and turns water into fine wine.
“Why would his first miracle — and it is a signifying miracle, according to John — use supernatural power to bring a lot of great wine to sustain the festivities? Why in the world would he do that?” writes Tim Keller. “Jesus Christ says, ‘I am the Lord of the Feast. In the end, I come to bring joy. That’s the reason my calling card, my first miracle, is to set everyone laughing.’”
There are few things I love more than cutting up the dance floor at a wedding, especially with my husband, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents in celebration of another family member’s marriage. And it is an exciting comfort that the intense joy I feel in those moments is just a foretaste of what’s to come.
Tim Keller goes on:
As a writer, John goes on to make much of this theme; in his Book of Revelation at the end of the New Testament, he depicts the end of all things this way: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, come down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (v. 21:2). Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” (Revelation 19:9).
In other words, at the end of time, there will be the feast to end all feasts. It will not be simply a generic banquet, but a wedding feast. It celebrates at long last the intimate and permanent union of people who love each other. And this is how history ends, this is what Jesus came to accomplish. We, the bride, the people Jesus has loved, will finally be united to him. The most rapturous love of a wedded couple on earth is just the dimmest hint and echo of that cosmic future reality.
While We Wait
Although I long to attend the wedding supper of the Lamb, I’m left waiting until the Groom in His timing deems fit to come to his bride, the church. Until then, I’ll keep preparing for the wedding through sharing the good news of the gospel, welcoming people into my home and putting on my new self.
I’ll join with the beautifully diverse church to carry out these preparations. And the next time I find myself at a wedding, I’ll keep an eye out for glimpses of the great wedding feast that will come when Christ and His church are united in covenantal love.