Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Isaiah 61

     Certain verses really help influence how you view God's grace. When I was going through a time of really trying to study God's grace (an attribute sadly ignored in many traditional churches), this verse was, to me, one of the most beautiful descriptions I found.

     Many of you are probably looking at my blog and saying to yourself, "Man, oh man, he needs to get over this grace stuff!" The truth is, I don't want to get over it. Take a sec and ponder what grace means. God's favor. Have you thought about what that actually means, beyond "oh, wow, cool"? You, a rebel, were saved by the very God you rebelled against. He saved you, not because of you, but in spite of you. And some want Christians to just get over this?

     Anyhow, the verse that strikes me so strongly is Is. 61:10. "I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

     Think of that picture of God's grace. We are covered with His righteousness in place of our sinfulness. The picture is that of clothing. Jesus took the rags of our sins and our works and replaced them with His own righteousness. Do we see the beauty of the substitution?

     Okay, like most young men, I've thought about marriage. Some day (hopefully!) I'll get married. Now, tradition states that my bride will go do whatever girls do to beautify themselves for the wedding while I sit off somewhere else and twiddle my thumbs or something along those lines, while being a nervous wreck!

      I'm sure my sister in law won't mind my sharing this story. One of the pictures we have of her on her wedding day is from several hours before the wedding. She had already changed into her dress, but as we all knew, she had a serious love for Dr. Pepper. The picture we have of her is her leaning her head way out in front of her to keep from spilling Dr. Pepper down her dress while she risked a drink.

     My point? From what I've heard (disclaimer: I have very little experience in this area), brides want to look beautiful at their weddings. That's why Jeannie was being so cautious. So what is Isaiah saying here? In the same way a bride tries to make herself look as beautiful as she possibly can, Jesus' places His grace on us in the same manner. His own spotless righteousness is what gives us our beauty in the eyes of the Father. But the difference? Our own attempts to look beautiful fall far short of actually covering our shame. So Jesus, the groom, actually bestows His own righteousness, His own purity, His own grace on us, the bride.

     God actually adorns us with the attention a groom toward His bride. Now, the only wedding I've actually watched in depth was my brother's wedding. I love my brother, but I noticed one thing about the wedding. Before hand, he joked and laughed with me just like any other day. Once the wedding started, his eyes were glued to that door that Jeannie would be walking through. He didn't care who else was there, who was watching, who was taking pictures, what world events were occurring, because his focus was centered on one thing, his bride.

     That's the same manner of care that Jesus bestows on us, us dirty, wretched sinners. Now as a guy, it's somewhat difficult to consider myself in the position as bride, but I'll give it a shot. In the same way a bride is fixated on looking her best for her groom, Jesus gives us His own righteousness to make us worthy to be His bride. In the same way a groom fixates his focus on his bride, Jesus fixates his love on us, undeserving, wretched rebels we are. That's grace. That's the beauty of the gospel, that "where sin did abound, there did grace much more abound."

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