Isaiah 61 is about a great restoration, a great release, a great renewal of Israel, and through Israel, the whole world. And this renewal is pictured in wedding garments: the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness are like a bridegroom that decks himself in ornaments, like a bride adorned with jewels (Is. 61:10). And just as the earth brings forth buds and blossoms, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations (Is. 61:11). This great renewal will be like a wedding in a garden with festive clothes and blossoms and flowers everywhere.
I can’t help but suspect that Isaiah wants us to remember another wedding long before him, the first wedding, the marriage of the first man and the first woman in a garden full of blossoms and fruit. Only what’s different? Back in that garden there was a wedding and flowers, a man and a woman, but there were no wedding garments. Remember, the first wedding had no wedding dress, no tuxedoes, not even primitive ones. Remember Genesis says that the man and the woman were naked, and they were not ashamed.
But they sinned, and their eyes were opened and they saw their own nakedness and they became ashamed. God confronted their sin. He told the truth about their disobedience and announced the curses that would fall on the world and promised that death would eventually come to them. But God did not send Adam and Eve out of the garden naked. He did not send them out of the garden with only shame. He made tunics of skins and clothed them. This clothing symbolized the grace of God. Animals died for those skins to be given to Adam and Eve. Blood was shed, so that their sin might be covered.
But this is why clothes represent grace, and in this fallen world, this grace often means forgiveness. When Isaiah says that the restoration of the world will be with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness, like the festive clothes of a bride and groom, we know what he’s getting at. He’s talking about reversing the curse, undoing the shame, covering Adam’s guilt.
Jonny and Maddie, we often say that weddings are pictures of the gospel, and they are pictures of the gospel in many different ways. But I want to argue that the gospel is specifically being proclaimed in your clothes. You are covered in wedding garments today: in a gown of glory and a suit of honor. And we are all dressed up with you, for you, honoring you, celebrating with you. And this is because clothing means grace. There are different kinds of clothing for different kinds of events, and this is because different events are blessed in different ways. You grace a pickup basketball game with shorts and t-shirt. Dressing for the occasion is a way of displaying grace, a way of proclaiming blessing – joy in the goodness and kindness of God.
I imagine that there will be many pictures of this event, and if Maddie is like every other woman I know, she will display these pictures prominently in your home. You may only ever wear these clothes once in your life, but you will remember these clothes for the rest of your life. You will remember this day, and the flowers you held, the way your hair was done, and over the years you will become more and more appalled at how young you looked.
But this is the point: the Bible teaches us that wedding garments represent salvation. They mean the grace of forgiveness and acceptance and favor. When God wants to describe salvation, He says it’s like wearing wedding clothes. It’s like wearing a shimmering wedding dress; it’s like wearing a fine suit. And so when you look back tomorrow and the next day, and you look through the pictures and you frame a few of your favorites, and you see the dress and the suit in the months and years to come, you need to think grace. Think: forgiven, covered, glorified.
And the reason you need to remember this is because grace is the foundation of a Christian home. There is only one solid foundation, and that foundation is Jesus: His death, burial, and resurrection. He was stripped naked and nailed to a cross two thousand years ago, and while He suffered and bled and died for the sins of the world, soldiers cast lots for His clothes down below. In other words, Jesus became the first Adam naked and ashamed. He became the curse for us, so that we might be clothed as royal sons and daughters in garments of glory and righteousness.
Jonny, your job from this day forward is to be Maddie’s husband. And this means that you need to be a particular kind of grace to Maddie. You need to be masculine shaped grace. You are wearing a suit today. You are dressed in masculine glory, and this is because this is what Maddie needs. Of course ultimately, Maddie needs the grace of Jesus, and you are not Jesus. But Jesus is pleased to minister His grace through people, and today He’s giving you this assignment. But remember this: masculine shaped grace is bloody. Just as God clothed Adam in the skins of animals, so too, you must remember that glory garments are made out of sacrifice. They only come about through the shedding of blood. In Colossians 3, Paul says that husbands are to love their wives and not be bitter towards them. The reason Paul warns husbands against being bitter towards their wives is because husbands are tempted to be bitter towards their wives. Men may hold grudges; they may resent the weakness of their wife or her failures or her sin. Often this manifests itself in a man being harsh or distant. Some men blow up or unleash sharp words. Others simply close up, avoid conversation, work long hours at a job, and take up hobbies on the weekends. But you may not do this because you are called to be grace for Maddie. Today you are dressed for her; you are grace for her. And she needs your grace. This means she needs you to sacrifice for her, give up yourself for her, forgive her, prize her, think highly of her, pray with and for her, speak gently to her, be patient with her, smile at her, delight in her, make love to her, talk to her, listen to her, hold her, guard her.
Maddie, your job from this day forward is to be Jonny’s wife. This means that you need to be a particular kind of grace to him. You need to be feminine shaped grace. You are wearing a lovely wedding gown today; you are dressed in feminine glory. And this is because that’s what Jonny needs. Ultimately he needs the grace of Jesus, but Jesus is announcing to you and to the whole world today that He is planning to minister a good deal of His grace to Jonny through you. In 1 Peter 3, Peter exhorts wives to be submissive to their own husbands, and he says that this means you should adorn your entire life with beauty, not merely outward beauty, but also the hidden person of the heart, the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. The garments of grace you are wearing today represent your calling as Jonny’s wife from this day forward to serve him with the loveliness of submission, the beauty of gentleness and grace. The most important thing about this is that God loves it. No matter what the world thinks. No matter what the immediate results, no matter even if Jonny sometimes doesn’t notice it. Your comfort and hope should be in God who always notices. It’s precious in His sight. Your submission is in the Lord, which means that you are a free woman, freely giving yourself to this man. You are not a slave; you are a daughter of Eve, a coheir of the grace of life with Jonny. You stand on equal ground and freely give yourself to him. This is the glory and grace of a wife, and it’s what your clothing means.
So remember this today and every day: remember that your clothing means grace. It means that you have been clothed in the garments of salvation by Christ, and it means you are called to be that grace to one another and for one another and for all you come in contact with.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!