I often have the honor of performing wedding ceremonies. These celebrations are sweet to me for many reasons, but in particular, because I get to witness couples enjoy the fulfillment of love’s anticipation. They have planned for, prayed about, and waited for this day.
A few minutes before the ceremony beings, I pull the groom aside and share an important reminder with him. I look him in the eyes and say, “What’s about to happen is one of God’s great gifts to you. Your bride is about to walk down that isle. She’s coming for you. Fix your eyes on her and drink deeply of this moment. She is God’s answer to your prayers. Enjoy this moment.”
After we take our places, we wait for the bride to make her entrance. As the congregation stands and the doors open, I look at the bride—but then I always take a peek at the groom.
In those moments there is a child-like joy that radiates from his (sometimes sobbing) face. Love has awaited this moment. She is radiant, coming to him. He is readied, receiving her. This scene is a picture of love anticipated and love realized.
What happens in those moments is also a small foreshadow of what will one day happen when the church, the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2 , 22:9-11), and Jesus, the bridegroom (Isaiah 54:5 ; Ephesians 5:25), are united together at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).
We Wait for Jesus
In Hebrews 9:27-28 we read of the church’s anticipation: "As it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.”
Christians are a people of eager expectation. We serve and love those around us, but we do it with an eye turned toward heaven—waiting, longing, hoping that today might be the day our beloved Lord comes to complete our salvation (Luke 12:35-43; Romans 13:11; 1 Peter 1:5).
We believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Because of that, we have forsaken our idols to follow the true God and now “wait for His Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). We are those who no longer love the fleeting pleasures of sin, but rather are “those who love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8; cf. Philippians 3:20). We “live…godly lives…waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13 ; cf. 2 Peter 3:11-14).
In the New Testament’s 260 chapters, Christ’s return is spoken of over 300 times. The hope of His return ought color our every thought. Our hearts ache and when we hear Jesus say “surely I am coming soon” we say “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20 ).
But we are not the only ones who are awaiting our beloved. Jesus is waiting as well.
Jesus Waits for Us
Just a few verses after considering our waiting for Jesus, Hebrews 10:12-13 tells us “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet.”
What is Jesus doing right now? He’s interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16, 7:25 ; 1 John 2:1 ), He’s preparing a place for us to dwell with Him forever (John 14:1-3 ), and He is awaiting the command of the Father to come and get His bride (Matthew 24:36 ; Acts 1:7 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ).
On that day, Jesus will leave His throne in heaven and return to earth. He will afflict those who have oppressed His bride (Psalm 103:6 ; 146:5-9 ). He will strike down those who have persecuted His beloved (Psalm 31:14-19 ; Matthew 5:11-12 ). He will put those who have set themselves against His rule underneath His feet (Revelation 19:11-16 ).
And then, we will be with Him forevermore.
He will take us to be with Him and we will be “called sought out” and “My delight is in her” (Isaiah 62:1-12 ). He will “rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 ; Isaiah 62:5 ; Jeremiah 32:41 ).
And what will we do?
Isaiah 25:9 tells us that “It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”
Oh what a day that will be—when the Father will send the Son to usher His Spirit-indwelt bride to experience the bliss of eternal Trinitarian love. We will thank Him forever (Psalm 52:9 ) and rejoice forever about His steadfast love toward us (Isaiah 65:17-18 ).
While We Are Waiting
A bride and groom spend much time, money, and energy preparing for the day when they will become husband and wife. In the same way, we should be preparing for the day when our Lord will come for us.
1 John 2:28-3:3 says “little children, abide in him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at his coming…Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.”
When our hope is set upon the return of our Savior, it has a purifying affect on our hearts.
Sin seems ludicrous when Jesus is seen as lovely.
Persecution seems endurable when Jesus is seen as valuable.
Loving this world seems foolish when Jesus is seen as fulfilling.
As the early 1900’s songwriter said,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
Let us be a people who long to see Jesus above everything else. And let us draw strength and encouragement from knowing that He longs to be with us as well.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.