The Passionate Suitor – Part 2
In our last article we faced this powerful question: How can God call me beautiful at the beginning of our relationship, before I become mature or do anything for Him? Read on to discover the answer!
In his wisdom and foresight, the king sees the Shulamite as she will be when his love for her has completed its work, and he relates to her on that basis from the beginning. He knows that the power of her true identity and the dynamic of his love will transform her as certainly as the dawn comes in the morning. In the place of intimate fellowship, he can speak these things in such a way that her heart will hear them and believe. And so he invites her to the place of nearness and intrigue, the banqueting house, and there sustains her with expressions of his deepest love.
This delightful and beautiful picture of the love language exchanged by these two is given expression in the life of Jesus, this time recorded for us in the Gospel of Matthew. But in the New Testament portrayal, the heart of Jesus is filled with pathos and grief. Matthew 23:37-39 is the record of Jesus’ lamentation over Jerusalem because the city, as the representation of the Bride of Christ, has refused His invitation to intimacy and instead has continued the historic practice of killing those who come in His Name to draw her to His side. The emotion of the heart of Jesus is palpable:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Jesus is here giving testimony to the passion burning in the heart of God, the same passion that caused Him to speak in such loving terms over the life of His dark but lovely Bride in the Song. He longs to gather His people to the House of Wine, to stir our emotions of being cherished and seen as fervent and single-minded. He deeply desires to speak to our hearts of how He sees us, of the delight that is within Him, of the confidence He has in the power of His love to do the things He has promised.
Those during the course of history who have experienced this “gathering,” this stirring of the Lord’s intimate love, bear witness: Nothing else matters when the touch of Christ’s love fills our hearts. This is why Paul the Apostle could cheerfully consider every other important thing to be so much refuse compared with the pleasure of knowing Jesus. It is why Stephen exulted as he stared death in the face, for he saw the Lord’s glory in the face of his Bridegroom standing at the right hand of the Father to welcome him into eternity. Because of this reality the martyrs of history have gladly given their lives for the sake of a better resurrection—one fully conformed to the life of the Beloved. Jesus fulfills the promise, and He calls you and me to that place.
Jesus, I will receive Your invitation to the place of intimacy in prayer. I long to hear Your voice telling me the truth of who I am, and how You love me. I long to live out of the place of affirmation that comes from Your heart, and that liberates me to love You in return and live in the beauty of Your holiness. Draw me, Lord, and I will follow after You.