15. The Marriage Supper

By John Thiel, First Angel’s Message, study 15, mp3

Each member of the Godhead pledged themselves to become a facility for us, to help us out of our sinful fallen condition so that we might become holy as God is holy.  Mankind became estranged from God through sin.

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

This scripture reveals that it is our iniquities that have estranged us from God.  The sins that commenced with Adam and continued right down through the line have created a separation of the precious relationship between man and his creator.  As we explored earlier in Adam’s experience, He became afraid of God because the sin he committed caused the love in his heart to be removed.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

The fear in Adam and Eve arose from of a condition of the heart that lost its love.  The love had been driven out of their lives through sin but despite this condition, God’s love was not affected towards them.  The Word entered into a decree with God that He would leave his lofty position in heaven to become the facility of Jesus Christ the Son here on this earth.  The mission of ‘The Son’ on this earth would be to rekindle the love in man which he had lost towards his creator.  The perfect love of Jesus would cast out all fear.  This was the messianic mission of Jesus and it is beautifully recorded in John 12.

John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. He came here to draw and to woo the love of humanity back to him which is again expressed in Jeremiah.  31:3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. 

How did Jesus draw us?  With His loving kindness. This love is again spoken of in 1 John.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

In the natural heart of man there was no love to God, it was something that Jesus had to express to us so that fear and sin would be driven out.

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

It was His love that wooed us until eventually we came to see His love for ourselves demonstrated in the fullness of the sacrifice of Jesus.  What a wonderful love story this is. What activity did Jesus engage in that would awaken a love response in our hearts towards Him?  In studies 9 to 11 we explored that Jesus became so intimately entwined with humanity that He partook of our sinful human nature and yet was without sin.  It is this mind activity of seeing Jesus suffer on the cross under our dreadful sinful condition and yet not sinning, that draws the heart of the helpless sinner to respond in love towards Him. Recall the endearing words of Jesus in the messianic prophesy of Lamentations as He hung upon the cross and appealed to those who passed by. “Look at what I’m doing for you, can’t you see the abject dilemma of the sin that you’re in?  Is it nothing to you what I’m doing here for you?” What Was He doing?

Lamentation 1:12 Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.

Jesus placed himself into the situation of Gethsemane and the cross for our benefit and yet he agonized in Lamentations that all his efforts may have come to naught.  When He asks the question in His mind “is it nothing to you all you that pass by that I am suffering here under all the transgressions that you have found yourself in dilemma over?  Is it nothing to you that the Father has wreathed all your sins and iniquities upon my neck?  If you will only lookup, stop and appreciate what I am doing here for you, you will realize that I have put myself  in this predicament for your sake because I am the remedy for your sin. I have come to suffer in this way to break the captivity of sin so that you may be reconciled back to the Father again.  Won’t someone please appreciate what I am doing here?

Lamentations 1:13 From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate and faint all the day. 14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up.

The words “The Lord hath delivered me into their hands” is very powerfully expressed in Isaiah which is another messianic prophesy describing the amazing sacrifice of Jesus in providing an incentive for us to love him.  What an amazing activity this is, Jesus suffering the penalty of our sin upon the cross which caused Him so much sorrow, melts the receptive human heart and invokes a love response from us.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

It is the measure of these remarkable expressions and realities in the very activity of Jesus Christ that compels our response of love towards Him.  It was by the activity of the Son that we became ransomed and brought back to God again.  Jesus wooed us away from the evil one who held us in captivity in our minds.  And all who permit themselves to be wooed by Jesus will respond to his overtures “Is it nothing to you, won’t you look up and behold?” All those that will behold Jesus and who will respond in love to the activity of the Godhead will enter into a covenant with Him.  Under this covenant, the Old Covenant, man makes a promise to God that he will keep His commandments. But very soon afterwards he finds himself failing miserably to keep his promises to God because he is still weak from the inroads of his past captivity.  It is only through this realization that man can truly come to appreciate the facility of Jesus as the mediator of a new and better covenant.

The New Covenant

God promises to write His laws on the fleshy tables of the heart and if he makes mistakes there is no more condemnation for failure as there was under the Old Covenant because the righteousness of Christ’s taintless life is imputed to the repentant sinner by faith.  Under the New Covenant Jesus is the author and finisher of our salvation. God knows that we are weak and that we of ourselves can do nothing but it is not until we have failed under the Old Covenant that we can truly come to realize our great need of Jesus under the New Covenant.  Our salvation can only be attained through the power that is manifested in the great love bestowed through the gift of Jesus Christ.  This appeal of Jesus to look to His activity on the cross and our response to His appeal is recorded here;

2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

Our minds are being reconciled to God by Jesus Christ. He laid out the incentive and has given the ministry to us.

2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (Here is the appeal and the strong cry for our response.)

From this scripture we see that the appeal of Jesus for us to become reconciled to God and even our response to this appeal to engage in the ministry of reconciliation all comes from God.

The Plea of Jesus for Us to Become One with Him

John 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Jesus says I’m sanctifying myself for their benefit so that they ultimately may be able to follow my example and do it as well.

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Jesus is praying for people all the way down the line.

John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

This takes us back to the study of the Godhead calling us to be many and yet one “I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” Here is the beautiful relationship that Jesus entered into with the sinner and through Him being one with us we are then one with God because God is in Jesus.

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

A Young Couple In Love

The same love that the Father has towards the Son is the love that God demonstrates to us as human beings.  By beholding this wonderful love story in our minds we may become consumed with it just as a young couple becomes consumed with the wooing and discovery of their love.  What occupies your mind and your lips?  Is it the expression of love, of speaking only about Jesus? This is the response that the gospel of Jesus Christ came to generate in us. The Apostle Paul could hardly contain himself when it came to speaking about Jesus. He marvelled upon the discovery of Christ’s intervention and who Jesus really was.  This became the total preoccupation of His mind.

1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

He was so filled with love towards God that he didn’t want to talk about anybody else except Jesus Christ crucified.

The Experience of John the Baptist

John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

John the Baptist was so filled with joy and love for Jesus that he was happy to just stand back and let Him be exonerated.  This is a very deep and precious experience in the life of a Christian, to have the mind and life so totally immersed in Jesus that there is nothing else left but Him.  This relationship between Christ and His people is indeed a parallel to the relationship between husband and wife. When love takes hold of two people they can’t help but talk of one another and uphold each other’s image before one another.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

It was God’s love, Jesus’ love that gave the incentive for the church and the people to respond.  This may be likened to a young man who woos a young woman to be his wife so that he can then protect her and care for her. If the young man’s wooing overtures kindle a love response from the woman, the relationship will progress into a marriage.  In just the same way Jesus woos his Church so that the church will respond in love to pick up His invitation to engage in the ministry of reconciliation.

Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Here is another parallel. The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church therefore wives are admonished to submit to their husbands just as the church is subject to Christ.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

The oneness and intimacy experienced in the relationship of a marriage is used metaphorically here to convey the exercise that takes place between Christ and His church.

Ephesians 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

The appeal to the church to respond to Christ’s wooing is found in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Here is the appeal “return to me O backsliding children because I am married to you… I’ve reconciled your mind back to me and I’ve drawn you until you’ve come to love me again, but you’ve now fallen back, so return to me because I am married to you.”

A Marriage Relation With Jesus

This appreciation of entering into a marriage relationship with Jesus is what really lies behind the parable of the marriage supper as expressed in Matthew.

Matthew 22:2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his Son.

Marriage is used here symbolically to describe the unification of Jesus with His people.  God the Father made a decree with The Word, that The Word would become the facility of Jesus the Son.  The Son then brought about a relationship with humanity that could be likened to a marriage relationship.  Jesus would symbolically become married to the human beings He had been sent down to this earth to relate to.

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

The marriage of Revelation is a symbol of the relationship that humanity is to enter into with the second perSon of the Godhead and ultimately with God because Jesus is God.  This beautiful thing that Jesus came to do was likened to a love story akin to marriage. We now understand that the bonding of repentant sinful man back to God through Jesus is symbolized with marriage.  But what then does the marriage supper signify?  The Bible answers this question.

The Marriage Supper

Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

We read here in Isaiah of a feast situation with eating and drinking.  The Lord even provides council as to how we should partake and enjoy of this wonderful meal?  Incline thine ear and listen he says, hearken diligently and eat that which is good. God’s council in this parable is not to give up once we have broken the Old Covenant, but to keep on eating the word of God and opening our hearts to receive it.  If we do this God promises “I will make an everlasting covenant with you and I will bestow on you even the sure mercies of David.” What are the mercies of David?  Well we know that King David broke His wonderful initial start with God and sinned terribly, but eventually he was able to overcome His sins and God mercifully pardoned him. In this text our close relationship with God which is sustained through the hearing and partaking of the Word of God and enjoying it is likened to the concept of eating food at supper. It is a supper that is related to the atonement or marriage.

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

When a woman marries a man she becomes known by His family name.  Likewise, when we partake of God’s supper by eating His words so that we enjoy them and they become precious to us, we too enter into a marriage relation with God to become joint heirs with Jesus and known by His name.  But what does the feasting at the supper represent in relation to this marriage?

Psalms 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Here is described a feast with very delicious food which Jesus represents as the words of God. Partaking of the word at the marriage supper is also conveyed in John chapter 6.

John 6:48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat? 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

Notice how Jesus draws a very powerful message here of the marriage supper and the close relationship that we are to have with Him? Christ dwelling in me and I in Him. The eating of the supper is the eating of Christ’s flesh and the drinking his blood.

John 6:57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

The disciples, the people and the Pharisees were all very confused by this.  None of them knew what Jesus was talking about but they could have known especially the priests if they had been astute in studying the significance of the priestly service in the sanctuary. The priest ate part of the animal sacrifice and that this represented Christ partaking with us and us with Him.

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

When Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood he was referring to ‘His words’.  In Christ’s representation of the marriage intimacy, His words are the food at the supper.

Eat Up the Words

Ezekiel was told to eat up the words.  Ezekiel described the words as ‘sweet in His mouth’ which was the same expression used by the Psalmist.

Ezekiel 2:7 And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. 8 But thou, Son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

Ezekiel was told to eat the words and to not be rebellious;

Ezekiel 3:1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll (this book), and go speak unto the house of Israel.

In other words the commission is given, “Son of man receive all the words that I speak into your heart and listen with your ears.”

Eating Represents Listening

Ezekiel 3:2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat [it]; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

All these bible texts confirm one expression of the wedding supper symbolism that is the eating of God’s word.  At the wedding the bride was required to be in a special bridal garment for the occasion.

A Special Bridal Garment

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

The bride is wearing the garment of salvation at the wedding which is actually Christ’s righteousness.  More detail of her garment is given in Revelation.

Revelation 19:8 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 9 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

As we eat of the words of Christ and allow them to purge our minds, our bridal garments will be made white through Christ’s imputed righteousness so that we will not be found wanting at the marriage.  May we take up the council of Jesus to eat up his words, listen diligently and enjoy them so that our experience will deepen through the ministry of reconciliation he has set before us.

I am instructed by the Word of God that His promises are for me and for every child of God. The banquet is spread before us; we are invited to eat the Word of God, which will strengthen spiritual muscle and sinew.–Letter 132, Oct. 10, 1900, to Elder and Mrs. S. N. Haskell.  {TDG 292.5}

The Lord God has provided a banquet for the whole human race. It is represented in the parable as a great supper where there is provided a festival for every soul. All connected with this supper may enjoy the heavenly feast, which is the gospel. This feast is open to all who will receive it. All are invited and urged to come. . . .  {UL 304.2}

All who are partakers of the wedding feast, the gospel feast, by this act say that they have accepted Christ as their perSonal Saviour. They wear His distinguishing dress. They have accepted the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Only those do honor to Christ who accept the invitation, “Come, for all things are now ready; come to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” These put on the white linen, the clean, pure character, showing that they no longer live their old citizen life that they lived in their ignorance. Their speech is changed. Their conversation is in altogether another line. . . .  {UL 304.3}

All who have the light of the Word presented to them are highly favored. That Word is the bread of life to those who eat of it. “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Luke 10:21).  {UL 304.4}

The professed churches of Christ in this generation are exalted to the highest privileges. The Lord has been revealed to us in ever-increasing light. Our privileges are far greater than were the privileges of God’s ancient people. We have not only the great light committed to Israel, but we have the increased evidence of the great salvation brought to us through Christ. That which was type and symbol to the Jews is reality to us. They had the Old Testament history; we have that and the New Testament also. We have the assurance of a Saviour who has come, a Saviour who has been crucified, who has risen, and over the rent sepulchre of Joseph has proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In our knowledge of Christ and His love the kingdom of God is placed in the midst of us. Christ is revealed to us in sermons and chanted to us in Songs. The spiritual banquet is set before us in rich abundance. The wedding garment, provided at infinite cost, is freely offered to every soul. By the messengers of God are presented to us the righteousness of Christ, justification by faith, the exceeding great and precious promises of God’s word, free access to the Father by Christ, the comfort of the Spirit, the well-grounded assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. What could God do for us that He has not done in providing the great supper, the heavenly banquet? {COL 317.2}


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