Monday, March 20, 2006

The Heavenly Husband

How beautiful you are, my love!
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are doves behind your veil.
...
Everything about you is beautiful, my love,
you are without flaw.
My sister, my bride,
you have carried my heart away!
With just one glance, with one bead of your necklace,
you have carried my heart away.
My sister, my bride,
how sweet is your love!
In this stunning passage, the bridegroom reveals the incredible beauty he sees in the bride and the way his heart is ravished for her. He starts by declaring twice that she is beautiful to him. Starting with her eyes, He then describes eight attributes in detail. He finishes by stating her flawlessness and that she carries away his heart. He's ravished. He's undone.

It's one thing to consider this a nice poetic piece of history but it starts unlocking our hearts when we see it as Jesus heart for His church, for me, for you. This is a dim revelation, written in finite human language, of the love that rages in the eternal heart of Jesus for His bride. It's staggering to think that this is Jesus love for me.

When I read this in the first person and hear Him calling me 'all fair' and 'without flaw,' I stop and reply 'wait, what about that time I did thus and so and what about that failure.' How can this be? Then I remember Ephesians 5:27 where Paul writes that Jesus will cleanse His church with the word and present her to himself 'without spot or wrinkle.' Jesus is relating to me on the basis of the finished product, not the current work in progress. He can make these radical declarations because in His heart, and by His blood, they are already accomplished.

This love however is not a love that is blind. He knows the cost of cleansing. Right in the middle of this declaration of the bride's beauty, He says:
When the day's cool breeze comes up
and the shadows lengthen
I will get myself to the mountain of myrrh
to the hills of frankincense.
The mountain of myrrh and hills of frankincense can refer to Jesus' trials while on earth and the suffering of the cross. This is the cost he paid on my behalf for the cleansing I receive. These declarations of love are the truthful assessments of a ravished-hearted God who's willing to do whatever is necessary to produce the desired result in the object of His affection. He embraced the needed sacrifice before the foundation of the world. He knows that in actuality the work stands accomplished. He doesn't see according to the natural, but according to the spirit and declares truth from His perspective.

This allowed Jesus to see a ragtag group of uneducated men and call them apostles. It's how He could forgive sin and heal the sick. He didn't see them in the ugliness of evil but in the beauty of holiness. He spoke redemptive truth into their lives and called for change. John, one of the sons of thunder, understood this truth. Throughout his gospel, he calls himself 'the disciple Jesus loved.' This is only the epitome of arrogance if it's not true. But it is true. This is how Jesus related to John. When I begin to understand it's how he relates to both me and those around me, things change.

When I stand in the place of prayer, ministering to Him and beholding His beauty, I'm compelled to believe Him and receive His ministry to me. I'm can begin to receive His report, His declaration over me, and agree with Him. I stand in the truth of what He's declaring over me and allow Him to call forth His reality over my life. He calls me beautiful and His heart is ravished over me.

And He declares the same thing over you.