It has been rightly said that the resurrection of Jesus is the end of the world breaking into the middle of history. Faithful Jews had always looked in hope for the resurrection of the dead. Job said in the midst of his suffering, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26). And Martha told Jesus regarding her brother Lazarus who had died, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (Jn. 11:24). But then Jesus announced to her that something completely unexpected was happening. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” The end of history, the end of the world, had arrived in the middle of history when Jesus was born, and ultimately when Jesus rose from the dead.
But there is another way that the end of history has always been breaking into the middle of history. Paul says that this is what weddings are. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:31-32). That first verse is a quotation from Genesis 2 describing the very first marriage in the history of the world, on the very first day of human history in the history of the world. And Paul says that what was pictured on that first day of human history in the very first wedding ceremony between Adam and his wife, was the last day of human history: the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the church. Revelation 21 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:1-2).
The Bible teaches that beginning with the first wedding in the history of the world, every wedding since has been a proclamation, a revelation of the end of history. And this means that there is some sense in which every wedding is a double wedding, and if that’s true, then this is actually a triple wedding – there’s always one more couple – there is always Christ and the Church.
But it turns out that this other couple, this final wedding that is always being proclaimed at every wedding, is not really anything less than the resurrection breaking into human history. Rev. 21 goes on to say: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4). This is partially why weddings are such joyful moments. They are pictures of unity and happiness, but they are actually always pointing us to what our hearts long for: the union of God and man once more and the end of all death and suffering and sadness.
But here’s the point: weddings are not merely pictures of the union of God and man and the end of all death and suffering and sadness. They are offers of that reality presented to the world now. Sentimentalism looks at all of this, sighs, perhaps even sheds a tear or two and then turns away in unbelief. Perhaps various forms of scientism or naturalism look at all of this and only see naïveté, blind optimism and thinks, just wait till the honeymoon’s over. But faith sees all of this as a down payment, as true evidence of God’s goodness, as a real garish splash of beauty in a truly dark world, and faith says, if God can give this gift, then He must be infinitely greater. If this kind of goodness and beauty exist in this fallen world, surely the source of this goodness and beauty also exists. What is being offered here is a proclamation of Christ and His Bride, the church, and in that offer is the offer of resurrection life here and now. Jesus says that if anyone believes in Him, he will never die. Do you believe?
These couples are not Jesus and the Church, but they are picturing it for us now. By God’s determination, they are a small but true glimpse of the last day here on this day. And therefore, this is a picture of what is happening to the whole world even now. John saw the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband. And that is the history of the world since the death and resurrection of Christ.
He took our sin judicially, so that He might take away our sin historically. He paid for all the guilt, so that He might wash away all our stains. It turns out that Jesus is an eager groom. He saw us far off and came for us in our darkness, in our rebellion, in our shame. And He is the one who has carried us back home. And He is the one who is ushering us down the aisle of history. The Last Day came in the middle of history in order to usher us to the end personally Himself. And that means there is utterly no doubt that we will make it. And every wedding – particularly every Christian wedding – is a reminder that Christ is still ushering His Bride.
Despite the insanity, despite the darkness and sin and suffering, He is leading us straight to the altar, straight to the marriage supper of the Lamb.