Thatcher and Mae had given up trying to eat the dry mints at their table at Jessica’s wedding. They had waited a long time already for their cousin and her new husband, Matt, to arrive so the reception could start.
As her tummy growled, Mae said, “Food sounds good, but I’m really excited to see Jessica’s wedding dress again!”
Thatcher didn’t respond. He was still thinking about Mom’s earlier comments about Jesus’ return being like the good wedding food they were waiting for. “Mom, you said that when Jesus comes back, He’s going to make all sin go away, right?” Mom nodded. “How is He going to do that exactly?” Thatcher asked. “If doing wrong things is the problem and Jesus fixes it, what if someone sins again after that? I mean, I still sin even though I’m a Christian.”
“You’re not alone, Thatcher,” said Mom. “All Christians do things that are wrong. We’ll struggle with sin as long as we’re still living in a sinful world, but we can live knowing Jesus has saved us and has promised us something better. And you know what? Wedding dresses can help us understand that.”
Thatcher looked surprised, and Mae squealed with excitement.
Mom continued. “The Bible uses wedding outfits to show how God saves us from sin by clothing those who trust Jesus with His righteousness, or sinlessness. That means even though we still do wrong things, God sees us as righteous because Jesus already took the punishment for our sins. It’s also a reminder of God’s promise that one day, when Jesus returns and makes everything new, He’ll give us new bodies so we’ll never sin again!”
“Kind of like Jessica knew she and Matt would get married when she put on her wedding dress this morning, even though it hadn’t happened yet?” Mae asked.
“Exactly,” said Mom. “The day Jesus returns will be a big day of celebration–just like today! And until then, we can go to Him whenever we do something wrong and confess it, knowing He’ll forgive us because we’re already wearing His righteousness.”
Suddenly, Mae jumped up from her seat, “They’re here! It’s time to celebrate!”
Thatcher laughed. “That’s probably what we’ll say when Jesus comes back, huh?”
“Yes,” Mom replied. “On that day, all of creation will celebrate!”
One of life’s happiest occasions is a wedding. It is the union of two separate individuals into one new entity. It involves lots of planning and preparation, including obtaining a wedding gown, bridesmaids dresses, and tuxedos for the groom, his attendants and ushers. These garments, although very stunning, pale in comparison to the garments that will be issued when Christ returns for his bride-the church and all Christians. This is what the prophet Isaiah refers to in Isaiah 61:10-62:3.
Isaiah speaks of a new age in which the people are clothed with garments of salvation. It will usher in an order in which hope abounds and shouts of joy are the order of the day. The old order is passing and a new age of beauty and justice is upon us. Isaiah proclaims that humanity is on the verge of a giant leap in awareness. Humanity has matured ethically in many ways, but we still have a long way to go.
Isaiah begins his message as a prophet released to enjoy God’s promises to restore the people, but it is not the joy that comes from overthrowing oppressors. It is the joy that arises from both God’s deliverance of His people and in the bringing forth of righteousness. Isaiah understands that God has taken His people in a covenant like a marriage. His faithfulness is predictable and reliable as the natural cycle of life. His people are to exhibit God’s righteousness in their own restored lives, and that includes us as Christians today.
Isaiah uses the image of a wedding to tell what it means for us to celebrate our freedom from sin. Clothed as His bride in the garments of righteousness, adorned with the jewels of servanthood and radiant with the glow of His glory, righteousness and praise will spring forth. The prophet proclaims salvation and forecasts redemption.
When she is restored, Israel will be clothed with garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. These are wedding garments, with the metaphor of the bridegroom and the bride emphasizing the joy and delight shared mutually by God and His redeeming people. While Israel was guilty of being unfaithful to God, she will be restored to a relationship with its husband. The church is also portrayed as a bride, with Christ being the bridegroom. The same thing will happen to us when we accept Christ as our Saviour. When God redeems His people, there will be joy among the people.
The robe of righteousness is a robe of protection and an ornament. This is a metaphor of the church defended and ornamented by God. When the Messiah comes, truth and righteousness will spring forth like grass and fruit when it rains.
Because of His great love for His people, God sent a Saviour to comfort, heal and set His people free. God planned to deliver His people and He would not stop until the work was accomplished. God’s church and His people would be the object of His unceasing watchfulness and care until His glory filled the earth. He would clothe His people with goodness and salvation. God tells us that He holds Himself accountable for the promises He has made. From this perspective, His people will find new hope for the future, not just because He clears our vision once again but because He backs up the vision by holding Himself accountable for His own word, Isaiah’s words, His own oath, His own command, and His own purpose for the world.
When a sinner realizes that he can’t achieve his own righteousness by deeds and repents and asks God for mercy, God covers the sinner with His own divine righteousness by grace through faith. So what does God do? Exactly what He did for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He sheds innocent blood. He offers the life of His Son. From the scene of the sacrifice God takes a robe of righteousness. Does He throw it in our direction and tell us to shape up? No, He dresses us Himself with Himself. The robing is His work, not ours. This is why He came to earth as a tiny baby on that first Christmas over 2,000 years ago.
Jesus began the process of redemption through his life, death and resurrection. He proclaimed God’s rule, and therefore we can rejoice in the knowledge that He has set us free and made the world right. On the other hand, we are works in progress, and there is much in our world that needs to be fixed. The job won’t be complete until Christ returns and establishes His Kingdom here on earth.
How often and how easily do we forget our value? How often do we believe the lies of the world instead of the words from God about us? We set aside the truth that Jesus came and lived and died to prove to us we are of great value to the God of the heavens. How we minimize Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice when we insist that more must be done to redeem our messy lives. We forget what God says about our identity in Him. We get wrapped up in things around us. Our families and jobs require so much of us we can lose ourselves and turn into people we never thought we’d become.
When you sin, do you worry that you’re no longer saved or that Jesus will stop loving you? If you know Jesus, you don’t have to worry because He has clothed you in His righteousness. He promises to forgive you when you do something wrong, and one day, when He returns, He’ll make you completely new so you’ll never sin again! You can trust Him to free you from sin forever.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New Kings James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 952-953)
- Kandi Zeller, “Wedding Waiting (Part 2).” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament. Part of Wordsearch 12 Bible software package.
- McKenna, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 18: Isaiah 40-66 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982; pp. 242-246)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 1009-1013)
- Logan Wolfram,” Where You Sit is How You Stand.” Retrieved form Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Patricia Tull, “Commentary on Isaiah 61:10-62:3.” Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org.
- J. Clinton McCann, Jr., “Commentary on Isaiah 61:10-62:3.” Retrieved from http://www.workingpreacher.org.
- Howard Wallace, “Year B Christmas 1 Isaiah 61-62.” Retrieved from https://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/WebOTcomments/ChristmasB/Christmas1.html
- Bruce Epperly, “The Adventurous Lectionary-The First Sunday of Christmas-December 27, 2020.” Retrieved from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/livingahealthyadventure/2020/12/the-adventurous-lectionary-the-first-sunday-of-christmas-december-27-2020