6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
I remember reading these verses and really applying them to my heart sometime last year. And, honestly, when I got to the end of verse 8, I was discouraged.
Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.
This was not good for me. Thoughts of my “righteous acts” did not bring to mind images of beautiful, pristine linen. Even at my best, my righteousness didn’t even make it towards wrinkled, frumpy, and maybe cream-colored. I was never going to make it to the feast. I didn’t deserve a place at the table.
My righteousness alone is filthy. Utterly filthy. My garments are torn and stained with my sin.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Isaiah 64: 6
I grew up hearing verses about sin and how Jesus took my sin and washed it away. But last year when I read these verses, they really made their way into my heart and I saw my sin. I saw my rags and my own attempts at righteousness, and I realized how I fall so short of the fine linens mentioned in the Bible. And I felt scared. I felt ashamed. I felt unworthy of sitting at the feast of the Lord. This “church girl”, who’d heard the plan of salvation her entire life, suddenly forgot what salvation meant.
I asked Jesus into my heart when I was a child, and I meant every word of my prayer. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and I confess Him as Lord of my life. I am saved. I am a child of God. So when He heard my cry of despair last year, He comforted me with words that I had heard growing up.
“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10
Jesus is my robe of righteousness. He took my dirty, stained, and torn rags when He died on the cross for me and He gave me a robe of fine white linen. On my own, my righteousness will never measure up. But when I became a Christian, Jesus became my righteousness.
What kind of love does that?
It’s a love filled with mercy.
When Jesus came and walked this earth, He was Mercy in human form. Wherever He went, Jesus poured mercy upon thirsting souls.
There was this beggar who was blind. He wanted his sight, he wanted a place to lay his head at night, he wanted to belong and be loved. He wanted mercy. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he cried out for mercy. He didn’t cry out immediately to be healed. He didn’t cry out at first for his sight, though he did later. He cried out for mercy, because his soul knew that Mercy was passing by. And even though those around him told him to hush, he continued to cry out for the mercy his heart craved, and Jesus freely gave it to him.
There were some children. Their parents just wanted Jesus to touch their babies with His hands, but the disciples rebuked them. “Can’t you see He’s too busy for your children right now?” But Jesus said to let the children come and sit with Him. He had mercy for the innocent souls that so readily received it.
There was a harlot. She was adulterous. She had no way to deny her acts as she was drug through the middle of the city to face her punishment. Her accusers’ eyes were full of loathing and a plastic righteousness that wasn’t real. But Mercy’s eyes were on her, too. Was she able to look at Him in His eyes? Did she see the love and acceptance that she longed for? He told her to go and sin no more. He became her righteousness.
Jesus’ ministry on earth was mercy. Even when He was dying, He prayed for the ones who mocked Him, beat Him, bound Him, denied Him, and crucified Him.
“And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:33
He loves you just as much as He loved those in the Bible. He died for your sins, too. He has invited you to the table, friends. He’s got a place waiting for you there. And He’s got your fine linen waiting for you. No matter what you’ve done before, if you ask Him, He will take it from you. His mercy is waiting for you.
Are you tired? Are you worn? Your old garments, are they stained and torn? Well there is rest at Heaven’s throne where Jesus waits to clothe you with a spotless robe.
Are you lonely? Are you poor? Has this world not filled what you hunger for? Well there’s a Friend who makes all things new. He’s prepared a feast and He set a place for you.
Are you bound by sin’s dark chains? Do your past mistakes leave you filled with pain? Well lay them down at Jesus’ feet. With just one touch He’ll loose your binds and He’ll set you free.
Mercy is His ministry. It’s heaven’s gift to you and me. Take His hand, and you will see that mercy is His ministry.
Mercy Is His Ministry, Paige Givens Copyright 2014 (BMI)