Bound up into the Isaiah passage and this imagery in Revelation is the idea of marriage and healing, or marriage and mercy. God promises in Isaiah to come marry his people, and when he does he will bring healing and mercy and liberation. When John sees the New Jerusalem, the bride of God coming down out of heaven, John sees a bride adorned with the water of life to quench the thirst of the world. John sees the trees of life with their twelve fruits and their leaves for the healing of the nations. When God describes his salvation, his covenant, he says it’s like a marriage, it’s like a wedding.
But this means that we need to learn to reason back the other way as well. When we witness a wedding, we are witnessing a picture of the way God promises to heal the world. We’re celebrating a picture of the way God preaches good news to the poor. We’re here with you today to enact a small portion of the acceptable year of the Lord. This is what proclaiming liberty looks like. This is what good news looks like. This is what the healing of broken hearts looks like. When God describes himself performing these things, he says it’s like a groom all decked out in all his glory; it’s like a bride all adorned, all lovely.
And that being so, the charge to each of you is to be what you are. Be a groom and a bride that continue to portray the healing and mercy and freedom that God has brought to this world in our Lord Jesus. But start by being this for one another. It’s not our custom to anoint men and women when they get married, but you are becoming a king and queen today. And that’s why in some Christian traditions, the bride and groom are literally given crowns or wreathes that symbolize their royal callings.
Austin and Laura, you are becoming King and Queen to one another and for one another and all that God gives you. But the exhortation is to cultivate healing and mercy and freedom with one another first. The river of life in Revelation is flowing out of the city, out from the throne of the lamb, out into the world for the healing of the nations. This means that the city, the bride, is already saturated with life. The city has already been healed, the city has already been set free, the city has already been shown mercy. She now has plenty of life to give, healing to bestow, liberty to proclaim, and justice to enact.
Austin, when you get up in the morning tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, remind yourself of Isaiah 61. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…” And then get busy doing that for your wife. Let your words to her be good news. Let your words be words of healing and encouragement.
Proclaim liberty and freedom to her. And continually give her Sabbath rest, continually celebrate the acceptable year of the Lord. Commit yourself to establishing a home that is full of the spirit of Jubilee. Forgiveness must flow from you like the waters of life. And be quick to seek forgiveness teaching your family by example. Assume responsibility for your household; it is a small kingdom, a city that you are being given charge of. So rule in wisdom. Cancel debts, keep no record of wrongs, enact justice, care for the poor, and do not allow bitterness to reside under your roof.
Laura, when you get up tomorrow morning and the next day and the day after that, remember that you are called to do the same. You are called to be a bride saturated with life, producing trees of life for the healing of the nations. But remember that this calling begins with your husband. Let your water of life quench your husband’s thirst. Proclaim good news to him, bestow mercy and healing upon him, cultivate a home that rejoices in the God of salvation, the God of mercy, the God of Jubilee.
Together, you are for us today a picture of what God plans to do with the entire world. You both are dying today. You are dying to your old lives alone, dying to your selves, and being raised up to a new life together as one flesh. You are clothed in wedding garments, and we will feast and celebrate together shortly. In an important sense, you are even a picture of forgiveness in that you are putting your past behind you. You are repenting of your singleness and turning toward one another, and when you kiss in a few moments, it will not only be a kiss of love but most assuredly it will be a kiss of peace.
And all of this is a picture of what God is doing in our world. He plans to clothe this world in the garments of salvation. He has put away our sins and forgiven all our debts in the death and resurrection of Jesus. He proclaims liberty to us, and the acceptable year of our Lord Jesus. And in the gospel, the angels continually declare peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
You are this picture of freedom and gladness. You are this image of salvation and mercy and healing and peace. And your calling is to continue in this. Even after you’ve returned the tux and packed up the wedding dress, remember that you have been commissioned by the Holy Spirit to enact mercy and healing and liberty to one another and those around you. You are jubilee today, and your vows are promises to walk in that grace all the days of your life.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!