Come with me! I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:9, NLT)
The Song of Solomon has been called by some commentators “the song of the bride.” The story line of this stirring Old Testament book is quite simple. A mighty monarch falls in love with a Shulamite maiden.
She is a poor country girl; he is a wealthy king. According to natural standards, they are no match. She is not worthy of him. Yet in the king’s eyes, she is the most precious person in the world. And he is out-of-his-head in love with her. It’s the original Cinderella story. And it’s the very narrative that we Christians are living out together.
Throughout the Song of Solomon, the king declares how the bride’s beauty charms him. As he praises her loveliness, he describes every part of her body in great detail (see Song of Solomon chapter 4 and chapter 7 for graphic examples). As the king vividly describes each portion of his bride’s body, we are given an insight into how you and I look in the eyes of our King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Wealthy Monarch and His Lowly Maiden
Despite the canyon of natural differences that hold them apart, the bride and the bridegroom are “sick with love” for one another. With surging momentum, the king expresses his incomparable love for his beloved. Both the New International Version and the New Living Translation nicely lay out the script between the lover (the monarch) and his beloved bride (the maiden), clearly demarcating when each one is speaking. Here is a sample of the passion-filled language in this romantic narrative:
• The King: How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! … Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens.… All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.… You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.… How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice! … How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! (Song 1:15; 2:2; 4:7, 9–10; 7:6)
• The Maiden: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.… I am faint with love.… My lover is mine and I am his.… if you find my lover … Tell him I am faint with love.… he is altogether lovely.… I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me. (Song 1:2; 2:5, 16; 5:8, 16; 7:10)
One of the greatest truths that the Song of Solomon presents to us is that the Lord’s love is not only for the whole, His bride, but it’s also for all of her individual parts.
Behold a mystery: Christ loves His bride corporately. But He also loves the individual parts of her body. In fact, He loves each part just as much as He loves the whole.
In case you don’t understand, those individual parts are you and me. Virtually every time the king opens his mouth in the Song of Solomon, he vividly describes his love and appreciation for each member of his beloved’s body. What an incomparable love our King has for you and me.
In the New Testament, John (“the apostle of love”) wrote two companion books that furnish us with a template into understanding this heavenly romance. When these two books are mingled together, they become a key that unlocks endless realms of light. The first book is his gospel, the gospel of John. The second is the bewildering and disquieting book called Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. John’s gospel and Revelation present a composite portrait of the Bridegroom and His beloved bride.
Read together, these two books provide a remarkable collection of insights into the ageless purpose of our God.
John’s gospel is the New Genesis. In it, John retells the love story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He also retells the love story of Jacob and Rachel. In so doing, John portrays Jesus Christ as the New Adam and the New Jacob. These same love stories take shape in the narrative of Revelation.
As we blend the voices of John, Genesis, and Revelation together, we are given a beautiful portrayal of the very heartbeat of God. Rich and colorful wedding imagery echoes from one book to the other. And the recurring vocabulary gives us a fresh perspective into the Lord’s highest passion.
Let’s walk through John’s gospel together and unfold the storyline using Genesis and Revelation as our interpretive guide . . .
Some two thousand years later, Jesus Christ, heaven’s Bridegroom, is at a well. And it happens to be Jacob’s well. It’s also “noontime” (John 4:6 nlt). Heaven knows what this means. We are left to wonder if the angelic hosts are leaning over the banister of heavenly places, waiting to see the one whom God the Father has chosen to be a suitable bride for His glorious Son.
Alas, the woman arrives. Surprisingly, she is not what angels nor mortals would expect. She is not beautiful like Rachel. She is not pure like Rebekah. She is not graceful like Sarah. No, she is deeply marred. She has a tragic history salted with rejection. She is not a pure virgin. Instead, she’s a girl who has been used up and ruined.
The angels begin musing: “Can this be the chosen bride for the perfect Son of God? Can this be the wife worthy of God?” I can imagine the Archangel Michael’s brow furrowing as he contemplates the intensity of that question. Shockingly, the answer is unquestionably yes. The Samaritan woman, this unlovely tragic figure, is the one whom the Lord Jesus chooses to be His own.
Take a good look at her. She has had five husbands. And the sixth man in her life, with whom she is presently living, is not her husband. But Jesus Christ does the unthinkable. He introduces Himself to her as her new Husband—the seventh man in her life, the heavenly suitor who will love her like no man ever has. He will turn her tragedy into purity, her ashes into beauty, her misery into joy . . .
A Wounded Lamb and His Flawless Wife
In Revelation 21 and 22, the perfect bride is unveiled in great detail. In these chapters, John presents to us the bride and the Bridegroom living together eternally in a restored paradise. In the closing pages of Revelation, the word comes forth, “‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
These words are a throwback to John 4, where Jesus offers a thirsty Samaritan woman living water that will forever quench her thirst. Again, the trademark of the bride of Christ is that she longs for her Bridegroom. And that longing “thirst” is but an echo of Christ’s longing “thirst” for a counterpart.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.… “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God. (Rev. 21:2, 9–11).
Here, John unveils the bride. She is pictured as a Holy City, the building of God’s own hand. The New Jerusalem is John’s attempt to communicate the inexplicable. As we imagine the overwhelming glory that radiates from this city, we just want to collapse. Its peerless beauty steals our breath and leaves us dumbfounded. The city is a spellbinding image of the church in her glory. (Jesus Christ is not going to marry a physical building. The New Jerusalem is a grand picture of the glorious bride of Christ.)
The New Jerusalem is pictured as a 1500-mile by 1500-mile perfect cube that houses God Himself. Recall that the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle of Moses was a perfectly cubed room, fifteen feet by fifteen feet, which housed God. The New Jerusalem is essentially an enlarged version of the Most Holy Place.
What happens next is beyond the imagination of mortals. The bride steps out of the heavenly throng that no man can number. She is robed in impenetrable light, glamorously adorned for her Husband. And the wedding feast of the ages ensues. The bride has been making herself ready for this grand moment (Rev. 19:7–9). Heaven’s Bridegroom takes His spotless bride into the wedding chamber, behind the veil, and purity is poured into purity, light flows into light, and the Lord Jesus Christ and His beloved bride become one. And she is no longer a bride. She is now the wife of God. And God the Son is no longer a bachelor.
God’s Ultimate Future
Dear child of God, you are not being processed for a harp and wings. You have been swept up into the unfolding drama of God’s romance. Your destiny is to be fully united with Christ and lost in God in inseparable oneness. Therein lies the highest revelation in all of Holy Scripture.
In the end, God will become “all in all”—everything in everything (1 Cor. 15:28; Eph. 1:10). This is God’s ultimate future. And it is yours as well.
One of the most gripping scenes of the New Jerusalem episode is the Lamb. He stands at the center of the city and fills it with His light. The city glows with the glory of Christ. There is no sin there. The fall has been completely annihilated. The curse has been removed. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are faint memories.
All is new. All is perfect. All is holy. Yet within the Holy City, there is one who bears a flaw. The Lamb is not entirely perfect. He carries within His body a blemish. What is it? It’s two nail-scarred hands, two nail-scarred feet, and a scar that reaches across His side. Out of that side poured forth blood and water, the outstanding marks of birth.
Behold the blood-stained scar on the Lamb’s side. It’s the womb of every child of God. It’s the womb of the bride. For she came out of the Lamb’s wounded side. As such, she is flawless. She is without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing. She bears no scar, no scab, no blemish. But her Bridegroom does. And He will carry them into eternity.
Point: In order for your Lord to get His counterpart, someone had to be blemished. Someone had to be wounded. Someone had to be marred. In the Father’s mercy and grace, He ensured that it would be His Son. And because of His relentless passion to love and be loved, the Son agreed.