This past weekend I officiated my 3rd wedding. I got what I thought was an unusual request from the bride. She asked if I would speak a charge to the groom right before she walked down the aisle. I started out thinking I would speak to him about his responsibilities as a husband but this is what I ended up with…
Bo, before your bride is presented to you…I know it is already been a long day and to wait even 2 minutes more must seem excruciating…but I want to remind you of something.
In the book of Hebrews, in chapter 12, it says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witness, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Today, Bo, you are surrounded by a great cloud of witness and not just those that you can see but all the people of God that have come before. You are part of a much bigger family. A much bigger story. And today, we are all cheering you on as you embark on this new leg of your race.
The word “race” in the Greek is the word “agon.” I just graduated from seminary on Friday so I thought I would show off a bit. I should also tell you I got a “D” in Greek. But I digress. We get our word “agony” from the Greek word for race. Now you, Bo, are a strapping, athletic, and according to your friends last night, extremely competitive young lad. So the idea of entering a race for you is probably more exciting than daunting. But as an athlete, you also don’t enter a race blindly. You know it’s not going to be easy. It will be hard work. And you will inevitably experience pain and suffering.
When the book of Hebrews was written, the greatest race of that day was the Pentathlon. This race included not only long distance running, but also jumping and javelin and ended with a wrestling boxing match in which the participants wore hard leather gloves that protected their hands but disfigured and bloodied their opponents.
I know your story, Bo. I have watched as you have run hard after Becca’s heart. Time and time again you have fought for her. You have suffered for her heart. Today you don’t pass the finish line. Today will feel like you have won and it should…but in reality, my brother, are just starting. Continue to run hard after her heart. Continue to fight for her. And be willing to bleed for her.
My favorite picture from my wedding day is the one of me seeing my bride for the first time. In my face, you can see the beauty of the one set before me. She was the joy set before me.
The book of Hebrews reminds us to “fix our eyes on Jesus…who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame.”
What was the joy set before Jesus? What didn’t he have? He had glory. He had holiness. He experienced perfect relationship within the Trinity. What was the one thing Jesus didn’t have before he entered the race? What joy was set before him as he was being disfigured and bloodied? What was he beholding as he climbed onto that wooden cross? You.
In this very next moment, Bo, you will know what it is for Jesus to see you.
Bo, behold your bride.
So glad it’s all about grace.