The King’s Wedding – Advent Vespers Sermon by Pastor Rolf Preus

Psalm 45

My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed You forever. Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One, With Your glory and Your majesty. And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness; And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things. Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; The peoples fall under You.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad. Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.

10 Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father’s house; 11 So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him. 12 And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor.

13 The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; Her clothing is woven with gold. 14 She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors; The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. 15 With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; They shall enter the King’s palace.

16 Instead of Your fathers shall be Your sons, Whom You shall make princes in all the earth. 17 I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.

Marriage has fallen on hard times. The so called “new morality” of the 1960s has transformed the popular culture, upending the standards of right and wrong. Christians are frequently more influenced by the popular culture than they are by God’s word. That should not surprise us when you consider that an hour or so once a week or perhaps once a month is all the time that many Christians spend hearing God’s word. The godless values of a godless culture bombard Christians every single day.

Marriage is a holy estate. God himself invented it. But you wouldn’t know it by looking around you. Fornication has become an unassailable civil right and abortion on demand is promoted to defend this so called right. Sexual immorality is no longer condemned. Divorce has long been “no fault” as if breaking apart what God has joined together is nobody’s fault. Living together as husband and wife without first becoming husband and wife is so common as to be ordinary. Probably the most obvious assault on marriage is the notion – advanced even by some who call themselves Christians – that a man can be married to a man and a woman can be married to a woman.

A young man should save himself for marriage. He should remain sexually pure and avoid associating with girls who are not. A young woman should also remain a virgin until she is married and should offer her virginity as a gift to one man alone and that man should be her husband on her wedding day. This is a better life than a life lived in service to one’s own pleasures. The pleasure seeking, hedonistic, sexually promiscuous lifestyle is not only selfish, it is at root very unhappy.

God honors marriage and wants to bless it. This cannot be expressed more beautifully or persuasively than by the wonderful imagery provided us in the Scriptures concerning Christ’s marriage to his bride, the Holy Christian Church. The psalmist speaks of the beauty of the king and his queen. The king is fairer than the sons of men. His beauty is in his speech. “Grace is poured upon your lips.” He speaks words that bring pure and unadulterated love. But his words are not mere sentiment. They are compared to a sword of a strong warrior. This is no ordinary bridegroom. He has an unsurpassed beauty. His words are both gracious and powerful. Who can this king be?

He is identified by truth, humility, and righteousness. He speaks only the truth, for he is the way, the truth, and the life. He is humility. He said, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-minded, and you will find rest for your souls.” He is righteousness. He lives and thinks and speaks only righteous and pure deeds, thoughts, and words.

Who is he? The psalmist says of him: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” Who is he? The psalmist says of him: “God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions.” He is God. He is the Son of God. He is the Son of man. God the Son becomes a man on Christmas. The beauty of this king and of his holiness is a divine beauty because he is God. He is anointed with the oil of gladness, that is, with the Holy Spirit. There is a perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This unity of love is seen in everything the king says and does. While the Father did not become a man and the Holy Spirit did not become a man, the man Jesus shows us the Father’s love and the Holy Spirit’s power. All that God is and has to give is given to us in Jesus, the eternal King. The psalmist says to him: Therefore God has blessed you forever.” And this blessing belongs to his bride.

The bride of Christ is pure. She doesn’t make herself pure. The psalmist says: “Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house.” The bride of the king forgets her past, her people, her father, her home. She breaks with what held her to this world and she devotes herself to her king. She finds in him her beauty. As the psalmist says, “So the King will greatly desire your beauty; because he is your Lord, worship him.”

In this psalm the queen is the bride of Christ considered as the holy Christian church, that is, the Communion of Saints. The virgins are the individual Christians. Whatever we Christians have we have on account of Christ. This is so simple and yet so easy to forget. When God calls on us to live holy lives, he is only calling us to live the lives He has given us to live. He makes us holy. We don’t make ourselves holy. Our beauty is our glorious dress, that is, it is the holiness of Jesus Christ. The bride in this psalm is wearing clothes woven in gold. The dress of the Christian is the beauty of Christ’s holy life and sacrificial death for us all. We don’t create our own clothing, but wear what is given us to wear. That is Christ. As St. Paul puts it: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus for as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

The foundation of marriage is fidelity. Can you imagine the Lord Jesus being unfaithful to his bride, the Holy Christian Church? Would he give up his life for her and then run after another wife, leaving her behind? Would her beauty fade in his eyes? Would she become so much excess baggage? This is unthinkable. As we sing, “From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride, with his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.” She comes to him, having soled herself with sin and he never turns her away. He sees her as beautiful because she has received his gracious words that impart to her her beauty.

And she sees in him her identity. Nowadays some women want to keep their maiden names or to put a hyphen between their maiden name and their married name. I suppose the idea is to retain some kind of personal identity. Perhaps these women feel that taking on a man’s name is to lose something of herself she wants to retain.

But Christ’s church takes on the name of her husband and leaves her own name behind. She is not ashamed to be called Christian, even when the world thinks it’s a shameful thing. When her king and Lord and husband is attacked, maligned, and despised, she willingly faces the attack, insult, and contempt because she knows her husband is always there beside her to protect her by his grace. She sees nothing in herself or in her past or in her native beauty that should require her husband to love her so. She sees only his love and takes refuge and comfort in it, knowing that it is eternal.

It’s sad to see how marriage is suffering today. But there is one marriage that will stand the test of time. The marriage between the King of kings and Lord of lords and his bride, the Holy Christian Church is a marriage made on earth for heaven. It is made on earth because here Christ came to fulfill all of God’s promises to his people. And fulfill them he did, all the way to the cross where he took away the world’s sin and purchased his bride with his own blood. That marriage will be celebrated in heaven forever and ever as God’s people eternally rejoice is gaining the name, identity, and righteousness of their king. We will rest in his love and enjoy eternal peace. Amen

 

About Pastor Rolf Preus

Pastor Rolf David Preus grew up on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the fourth of ten children, where his father, Dr. Robert David Preus, taught for many years. Pastor Preus graduated from high school in 1971, from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota in 1975 and from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1979. He was ordained on July 1, 1979, at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Clear Lake, Minnesota. He served Trinity Lutheran Church in Clear Lake (1979-1982), First Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1982-1989), St. John’s Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin (1989-1997), River Heights Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1997-2006), and First American Lutheran Church in Mayville, North Dakota and Grace Lutheran Church in Crookston, Minnesota from (2006-2015). On February 15, 2015 he was installed as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Sidney, Montana and St. John Lutheran Church, Fairview, Montana. Pastor Preus received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1987. His thesis topic was, “An Evaluation of Lutheran/Roman Catholic Conversations on Justification.” Pastor Preus has taught courses in theology for Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Concordia University Wisconsin, and St. Sophia Lutheran Theological Seminary in Ternopil, Ukraine. Pastor Preus married Dorothy Jean Felts on May 27, 1975, in Coldwater, Michigan. God has blessed Pastor and Dort with twelve children: Daniel, David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, James, Mary, Samuel, and Peter. David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, and James are pastors in the LCMS. God has blessed Pastor and Mrs. Preus with forty-three grandchildren so far. Pastor Preus’ mother is living in Minneapolis. Three of his brothers and two of his brothers-in-law have served as pastors in the LCMS.


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