Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
The Beauty of the Church
I am a fan of the tradition that on the wedding day the groom should not see his bride before she comes down the aisle. I think it came from superstitious notions, which I do not believe in, but the upshot is that the expression on the groom’s face is often one of the best pictures of the day. What he sees is a breathtakingly beautiful bride. She is the woman of his dreams. She is radiant, and in that moment, she is without blemish. It is a beautiful moment.
Now men, put yourself on the other end of the aisle. You are walking down the aisle to meet the church’s groom, Jesus, who loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. The Church—all believers in Christ, collectively—is the bride and she is beautiful.
I can think of many things about Christian people and me that I know are not beautiful. It is a stain and wrinkle on my record when I think how I do not love my wife as Christ loved the church. And yet, here we are, walking down the aisle to stand by Jesus. His sacrificial death makes us holy. The washing of baptism cleanses us, and Jesus in his beautiful love for us presents us to himself as a radiant church.
Jesus, your great love for us and the remarkable transformation from stained and blemished sinner to radiant bride is marvelous to ponder. Lead us in gratitude to love each other as you have loved us. Amen.
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