Open

Jesus seeks entry into the lives of all who will welcome him in

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Read: Song of Songs 5

[She] I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My beloved is knocking:
“Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.” (Songs 5:2)

I have taken off my robe –
must I put it on again? (Songs 5:3)

I opened the door for my beloved,
But my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure,
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called for him but he did not answer. (Songs 5:6)

Reflect:

At first glimpse, this chapter seems out of place in a book of courtship and marriage. The bride is visited by her groom at night but she is unready to receive him when he knocks. After dithering around putting on clothes and washing her hands in perfume, she finds he has left by the time she opens the door. Looking for him in the streets, she is set upon and her wedding robe is stolen by policemen. Yet she still searches for her beloved and entreats others to join her in the search.

In order to understand this passage, I contemplate several allusions to this story and amplifications of it in the New Testament. Jesus himself takes up the idea of a groom/master knocking at the door and an unready bride/servants several times, in Matthew 22 and Matthew 25 and also in Luke 12. In his letter to the church at Laodicea, transcribed by John (Revelation 3:20) Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Jesus is ready to enter in to the lives of those who are willing and ready to receive him. The question is, are we ready to receive this royal guest?

Many will be taken by surprise when Jesus returns in glory and they find themselves unprepared – without the robe or wedding clothes necessary for the Bride of Christ. Over-reliance on religious rites will be of no benefit either, just as washing her hands until they dripped with myrrh did not help the bride in Songs to be ready.

If we try to force our way into his presence, we will find ourselves excluded completely.¬†Unready people shall be like the Jews to whom Jesus said (John 7:34, in a paraphrase of a line from Songs 5:6), “You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

How many hearts will sink on that day! How many faces will be downcast at the coming of the King! By the grace of God I shall be ready, willing and waiting for Jesus when he returns and knocks once more.

Crux:

Jesus seeks entry into the lives of all who will welcome him in.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

I recognise Jesus Christ as the King who stood at the door of my life knocking for many years. Thank you for your grace in opening my ears to hear Jesus’ request to enter in to my life. Thank you for prompting me to open that door. May it remain wide open all the days of my life!

LORD, I pray for those who are not yet ready to open their door to Jesus. Please open their ears to hear his words. Open their eyes to see his majesty. Open their hearts to receive him.

I pray also for the workers who go in Jesus’ name as his ambassadors to ‘knock on doors’ for the sake of your glory in the gospel. I pray especially for Suichi & Elaine, Nathan & Shawna, Ben & Bec, Glen & Liz, Ross & Jill & Hazeen. Give them words to speak. Open doors to them. Allow them to share the blessings of Christ’s wedding banquet with many.

Amen.

Flawless

Jesus is sanctifying me, making me his flawless bride

Read: Song of Songs 4

[He] You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you. (Songs 4:7)

You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon. (Songs 4:15)

Reflect:

Flawless beauty. Absolute perfection. That is what this groom sees when he looks at his bride. It’s what every bride wants her groom to see on their wedding day. It’s certainly not what my husband sees when he looks at me.

Our marriage is almost 18 years old (I joke it’s almost a mature adult) and over that time my physical beauty, such as it was, has deteriorated. More significantly, no-one can hide their sinful nature from a spouse for 18 years, and so Jeff is now far more aware of my lack of spiritual beauty than he was when we married. I’m more aware of my spiritual ugliness as well. My need for Jesus Christ is plain to both of us.

Yet Jeff loves me despite all this, and he persists in drawing water from my fountain, as I am delighted for him to do Рand as Scripture advises him to do (in Proverbs 5 and 1st Corinthians 7, for example).

As with Songs 3, I am drawn to consider this passage also in a different light: the light of Christ. I can see in this passage hints and a foretaste of the marriage of Christ and his bride, the Church. Now the Church (like me) is certainly not flawless at present; news headlines tell us that. But one day, the day Christ returns to claim her, he will make her entirely perfect, without blemish, sanctified. Even now, streams of living water flow from her (from me!) because Jesus Christ made his Spirit dwell within his bride, as Jesus promised in John 4 and John 7.

Crux:

Jesus is sanctifying me, making me his flawless bride.

Respond:

LORD God Almighty,

Thank you for washing me clean, cleansing me from within with your living water which you have made to well up within me as if I were your fountain.

Please sanctify me. Please continue to strip away my spiritual ugliness.

Please take my selfishness, my lack of compassion, my pride and vainglory, my lust, my sloth and laziness, my dissatisfaction, my wilfulness, my self-aggrandisement, my competitive spirit, my ignorance, my disorganisation, my quick tongue and quicker temper.

Please remake me until I form a clearer image of your Son. Please make me flawless, full of your attributes which are true beauty.

Please make me loving, kind, gentle, peaceful, caring, patient, humble, submissive, joyous, self-controlled, diligent, disciplined, winsome, good. Please make me like my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.