For years, I've had dreams of my wedding. While my dress or hairstyle may have been different in each one, one thing was the same in all of them: I would eagerly await the moment my groom would turn around at the end of the aisle, slowly approaching him step-by-step, and as soon as he turned around my dream would end. Oh, yeah, and he WOULDN'T HAVE A FACE. That's just disappointing on all sorts of levels. Every detail of the wedding was perfectly styled and vivid, except for the most important part: my groom's face.
While those dreams were perpetually annoying, I think it reveals a lot about how we as the Church think about our ultimate bridegroom, Jesus. I think we *usually* get the big picture of this gospel message, but we seem to neglect the sweetest, most intimate part. Allow me to explain...
When I imagine Jesus sacrificing himself for sin, absorbing God's wrath and defeating death, ultimately betrothing himself to the Church, I kind of image the bride (the Church) as a generic, no-faced silhouette. I don't imagine my face, my sin, my shame, and my condemnation marring the face of Jesus' bride. How unseemly and unattractive! No way would that be kosher!
Except for the fact that it is.
Jesus didn't arbitrarily die for a concept of sin, he died for every sin I've ever committed. And he didn't absorb simply some random amount of God's wrath, he absorbed every ounce of God's wrath that corresponded justly to the sins I have and will commit. Jesus was humiliated, mocked, and shamed on my behalf. Fully being human, Jesus knew what it was like to live in confining, imperfect skin, to be embarrassed, to physically know pain. Yet fully being God, he had the ability to change all those crappy things about human nature by reconciling me to my Father, affecting my life now and for all of eternity. He did all of this for me, to present me as a blameless, perfect, righteous bride who deserves to wear white because of HIS record, not mine.
Thinking of Jesus in these terms engenders love and thankfulness. But not some arbitrary love and vague thankfulness - the sacrifice was costly in order to redeem an unsightly, unworthy bride. A bride who despite her depravity, was known in the most intimate way imaginable and loved in the deepest way possible. And that bride is you.