Names of Jesus Week Nineteen, Day Three

The Name
God is not content to be known merely as Creator, Lord, or even Father. Incredibly he reveals himself also as Bridegroom or Husband. The Hebrew Scriptures contain numerous allusions to Yahweh as Israel's divine Husband, and the New Testament presents Christ as the church's Bridegroom. He is the Holy One who did not cling to his divinity but left his Father's house to dwell among us, calling us to become one with him in the most intimate way possible. To all of us, male and female, Christ offers himself as our provider and protector, the one who has forever pledged himself in faithfulness and love.

Key Scripture
Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! Revelation 19:9

***

Wednesday
Praying the Name

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians13:12

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." Revelation 21:1 - 3

Reflect On: Revelation 21:1 - 3, 9 - 27.

Praise God: For revealing his intentions for us.

Offer Thanks: For all the ways God has protected and provided for you, as a loving husband would.

Confess: Your need to experience God's love more consistently in your life.

Ask God: To help you prepare for the day of his coming.

You have probably heard about Plato's allegory of the cave and shadows. Here's how it works. Plato pictured a cave in which prisoners were chained together in a line. Unable to turn their heads, they could only see the cave wall directly in front of them. Behind them in the cave a fire burned and between them and the fire stood puppeteers supported by a parapet. Though the prisoners could see shadows of puppets cavorting across the wall in front of them, they could see neither the puppets nor their puppeteers. Hence they mistook the shadows for the real thing. By creating this allegory, Plato was helping us to understand how limited our perceptions are. Seeing the shape or the shadow of something, we mistake it for the thing itself.

I think we can apply Plato's cave story to one of our most cherished institutions — that of marriage itself. What if marriage in its ideal form is meant to be a shadow or an image of an even more intimate relationship for which all of us — single and married — are destined? What if it is meant to be not only the basic structure of human society but the structure of heaven itself, in which God will one day be perfectly and intimately united with his people?

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code advances the canard that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers. But there is no evidence in the Gospels or in any of the ancient texts that this was so. And despite the fact that it would have been unusual for a man of his age to remain unmarried, there is no evidence that Jesus ever married. What if Jesus refrained from marriage to make the point that he is not just one woman's spouse but that he is every believer's intended?

Gary Thomas, the author of Sacred Marriage, debunks the popular notion that the primary purpose of human marriage is to provide two people with fulfilling companionship. "More than seeing marriage as a mutual comfort, we must see it as a word picture of the most important news humans have ever received — that there is a divine relationship between God and his people."

He paints marriage not as an end in itself but as a staging ground for eternity, a spiritual discipline designed to lead married couples into greater holiness and intimacy with Christ.

The good news for single people and for couples is that Jesus is the One who ultimately fulfills our need for intimacy. He is the One who draws us out of our isolation and loneliness by uniting us to himself and to those who belong to him. We bear fruit to the degree that we are united to him.

But even if you are among those fortunate enough to lay claim to a good marriage or a strong church, you will at times feel lonely. When this happens, resist the temptation to either ignore the feeling or chase it away. Instead, let yourself feel empty and needy for a while. And then pray into your loneliness this song of faith, written by Charles Wesley:

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed, all my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of thy wing.
Plenteous grace with thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of thee;
Spring thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.