Greetings this Resurrection Sunday. If you remember from Two Passover Cups? (pt. 1), at Passover the Jews were required to read the Song of Songs aloud at the table. At first glance, it was a very strange thing to do. It seemed so out of kilter. The Exodus was about the powerful God of Israel who rescued them from slavery.
The Song of Songs was about a wedding between a Great King Lover and an insecure, unclean, and unworthy woman who just couldn’t find comfort in his arms. Over and over, he pursues her with an unimaginable love, but she can’t receive it. Nothing has hurt her more than relationships, and every part of her brain is screaming for her to run. She can’t be hurt again. Yet, patiently, the King keeps telling her how beautiful she is to him.
“Hinnak Yapha Reyati, Hinnak Yapha. Just look at you, Beautiful, my beloved, Look at you, beautiful.”
For a million reasons, she can’t accept such praise and love. She won’t. So she pushes the lover King away and runs—again and again.
What do the two Biblical accounts have in common? A dramatic heroic rescue of an entire people group and an ancient poetic love story?
That is what the Rabbi is going to unfold this night. It is time.
In Israel, when a man finds a potential bride, he is to go to her officially in a betrothal ceremony. He offers her a legal marriage document, a ketubah, which includes his declaration of love for her, and of course the appropriate marriage price (mohar). The mohar is all about her value in the eyes of her bridegroom to be. What is she worth to him?
The betrothal is done at a celebratory meal, sealed by a cup of wine shared by the couple. It is the first of two cups in the marriage process. Once they drink this cup, they are officially husband and wife. They cannot be separated except for a trial for divorce. The husband has made a covenantal commitment and public declaration of his love for her. She has said “I do,” publicly. They are husband and wife.
Then the couple separate for a time, often a very long time. He goes to prepare a place at his father’s house where they will live. She spends the time faithfully waiting and preparing to be a spotless bride. There will be a second cup drunk at the wedding feast yet to come.
So now we can see what Jesus, our bridegroom, was saying to them–and us–on that fateful evening?
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Matt 26:26)
Now we know the value of this bride in the eyes of this Bridegroom. Though we don’t often feel it, our value is incalculable. The negotiated mohar was the bridegroom’s very life, his body.
“Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:27-28)
As the Bridegroom and the Bride drank the first cup, they publicly entered into holy matrimony. They were fully committed to each other for eternity. On that evening, all the aeons witnessed the public marriage of the Lamb and his faulty bride.
“I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:29)
Jesus, our bridegroom has gone ahead of us to prepare a house for us (John 14:2). We wait for his return in the great bridegroom procession to take us home.
Now we can see what the Exodus and the Song of Songs have in common. Whether we call it a rescue from sin, oppression and shame or we call it betrothal and marriage, God’s motivation is that he loves us and will do anything to have us in his arms.
I wonder if, this Resurrection Sunday, the Holy Spirit in your inner being (Eph 3:14-21) can begin to make you feel just how much our Bridegroom loves you, as you are, not as you should be or could be. It would make such a difference.
Want to know more? Follow me on my podcast, Gospel Rant (google Gospel Rant podcast). I am going through the Song of Songs now.
He is risen indeed!