Matthew 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son (ESV)
High school was a tough experience for most of us. It was a time of learning how to fit in. There were some that were very bold. They had the rebel look and didn’t appear concerned with what anybody said about them. (In retrospect many of those people didn’t turn out to be fiercely independent world changers but were really deeply wounded by the whole experience.) For the rest of us we tried to find this club or that sports team or some other “group” to identify with. This “clan” type behavior has been around from the beginning. Our desire for acceptance and approval is so strong that we tend to collect in groups where we can find acceptance and approval.
In the last few posts I talked about righteousness. I hopefully revealed how righteousness from God through faith is His approval of us. He has always approved of us. We have run from Him. He has always desired an intimate relationship with us. We have been hiding in the bushes. He has desperately pursued us with His provision. We have blamed Him for everything we lack. He died to prove His Grace. We insist on self-effort and self-righteousness. He died to reveal His love for us. We institutionalize false humility and try to make ourselves lovable. He calls us saints and Kings and priests. We look for approval in religious groups that declare our total worthlessness. We have a free pass into the best family in the universe, but some are just looking for another High School click.
Maybe that is a little harsh, but I see this all the time in ministry. When I point to Jesus as the answer I get the “that isn’t real” or “we need a program” or “not everyone is in the same place as you” or “this is a process and not everyone gets a miracle.” I don’t know about you but I don’t want another club, I want Jesus. I don’t want a maintenance program, I want the Holy Spirit. I don’t want to incorporate Jesus into my reality, I want Jesus to be my reality. I don’t want programs, I want glory. I believe God wants the same thing for us. As a matter of fact, I am sure of it. Why? JESUS. He is the first. He is the head. We are like Him. We are His brothers and sisters. We are His imitators. Listen carefully…WE ARE HIS BRIDE. He says to us “Will you marry me?”
There isn’t any pledging required or initiation. There aren’t any dues or requirements. You don’t have to fill out an application or get a sports physical. You don’t have to learn a secret handshake or wear a Letterman jacket. You just say YES. You just say YES to Jesus. It is that simple. Then we get to know Him. In a club mentality we learn about stuff. We get to know about facts and figures. We learn the bylaws and club history. In a marriage we get to know our spouse.
There is a process. Yep I said it…there is a process. It isn’t changing my behavior or learning the club motto or the pep song or being able to recite memorized pledges of allegiance. It is however a process of learning through experience. I first “know about” then I “know.” Check out these two verses:
Acts 2:22“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (ESV)
Acts 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (ESV)
In Acts 2:22 the word know is oidate which means: properly, to see with physical eyes (cf. Ro 1:11), as it naturally bridges to the metaphorical sense: perceiving (“mentally seeing”). This is akin to the expressions: “I see what You mean”; “I see what you are saying.”
In Acts 2:36 the word know is ginōsketō which means: properly, to know, especially through personal experience (first-hand acquaintance). 1097 /ginṓskō (“experientially know”) is used for example in Lk 1:34, “And Mary [a virgin] said to the angel, ‘How will this be since I do not know (1097 /ginṓskō = sexual intimacy) a man?'”
This first “sermon” by Peter has these bookends of “knowing” about Jesus. He begins the discussion by reminding them of Jesus. He says they “know about” Him and all the stuff He did. The know about how Jesus performed miracles and that is proof that He was from God. So many in the church today stop there. They learn by doctrine, teaching and persuasion that Jesus is factually who He says He is. OK. The demons knew that Jesus was the Son of God. God has so much more for us than just “I see what you are saying.”
Peter then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, makes a similar statement but this time he uses a different word. He says that they now know intimately that this Jesus is Lord and Christ. He is saying that they know in their hearts that this Jesus is King, deliverer, anointed one, the messiah. Based on the evidence presented they oidate Him but based on divine revelation they now ginōsketō Him as their savior. Jesus is saying to them “will you marry me?” They all say yes. They die in baptism to demonstrate their “yes.” It is a powerful moment. The Holy Spirit made it possible. The presence of God brought revelation. God Himself connected the dots between facts and intimate knowledge. What a wedding proposal.
I hope in the next few posts to show you how “knowing Him” is so important. It is an intimacy like that of a married couple. We get to be so close to Him that there is no separation. We get to be loved by Him and we get to love Him. It is not a club. Our gathering together should be a wedding celebration of our marriage to Jesus. It should be our opportunity to remind each other about His love for us. It should be an opportunity to seek more and more of His intimate presence in our lives. It should be the place of power, love and the miraculous. The only program I need is the one that reminds me how awesome He is. We get to be His bride. He is asking. Can we say yes?