Luke 15: 22-24
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the BEST robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
It’s pretty fair to say that whether people believe in marriage or not celebrating a wedding with the bride and bridegroom is a joyful day. The excitement and anticipation of the bridegroom, family and friends as they wait for the bride’s arrival met with wonder and admiration upon first sight of her. The bride and bridegroom’s joy shine on their faces adding to their glory; treated like royalty for an ideally perfect day.
Watching the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William brought a smile to my face as I’m sure it did many others and reminded me of a single glorious reality that God says we can take great joy in every day. The bride and groom are talked about in the Bible not only in terms of a couple on a wedding day but also as beautiful pictures that encapsulate the glorious beauty of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the ROBE of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
The prodigal [extravagant-in-giving] Father, talked about in a story Jesus tells in Luke 15, calls out to his servants to bring out the BEST robe to be put on his son who returns home after rejecting his father and spending everything he was given. In the setting of this particular story, the best robe was usually reserved for distinguished guests that came to visit but this undeserving son got it out of the extensively generous love of his father.1
This best robe is the very, very best garment that God gives to us – the robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61: 10) Righteousness means right-standing with God; we are made faultless, without spot, wrinkle or blemish, PERFECT in His sight through Jesus Christ! (Ephesians 5:27)
Today weddings in Israel have become westernised with the brides often dressing in white. But in the Bible days, the weddings closely resemble Indian weddings today where the bridegroom is dressed with ornaments on his colourful robe and the bride is covered in jewels.1 The bride’s gold jewelry extend down the middle of her forehead, her forearms covered in sparkling bracelets, her hands painted with designs, her dress heavy from the amount of jewels covering it. The Bible is saying that the robe of righteousness that God our Father has clothed us in forever, is as glorious and beautiful if not so much more then the best looking day of someone’s life, their wedding day! It doesn’t say He has covered me with the ROBE of righteousness, as a husbandand wife dress each day, but as a bridegroom and bride dress!1 We look amazing to God everyday because of Jesus! Now that makes me smile!
For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Jesus’ one offering for us on the cross, made those who are in Christ, PERFECT forever in God’s sight; as beautiful as the most beautiful bride, as handsome as the handsomest bridegroom.
Why is it so important to know this reality? Because while we’re alive, more likely then not we’re going to stuff up along the way, have bad thoughts, say wrong things, be unloving at times considering ourselves over others and consequently judge ourselves as faulty. In such moments we can forget the glorious reality of our right-standing before God that we already have.
We are given picture after picture of how perfect we are in Christ throughout the Bible to help remind us each day that this is the only reality that should matter to us. It is the only reality that matters to God; it is the only reality He sees – not the faulty one we see. At the end of the day, if God has already dealt with all the mess we see in our lives at the cross, it benefits us little to focus on our sin which in God’s perspective has been put away forever and already forgotten.
….Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.
The Bible reassures us that the faults we see in ourselves need not cause us discouragement, for as long as we are in these bodies on earth that have yet to be redeemed (made perfect for Heaven), we have no good in our flesh.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
God generously supplies us with image after image through the Bible to help us see how perfect Jesus has made us before God: Our rebellion is covered by the sprinkling of blood (Jesus’ blood) on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant (Leviticus 16), our earthly wooden humanity that is of little value is overlaid with precious gold (Jesus’ righteousness) in the picture of the tabernacle in the Old testament where God dwells (Exodus 26) and of course the easiest picture to see, the robes of righteousness as of a bride and bridegroom (Isaiah 61:10, 2 Corinthians 5:21).