When the Family Court judge called the next name on the calendar, an elderly couple slowly made their way to the table. Each one sat on either end. I took my place in the middle as their interpreter before the judge in the proceedings. Both had basically the same appearance. The skin on their arms, hands, and face was toasted and wrinkled, most certainly the marks of years of working under the hot California sun in the agricultural fields. Their faces looked like they had not broken a smile for a long time, probably due to hardships beyond many of our comprehension. Their faces yielded no emotional clues as they looked expressionless toward the judge. It was he who broke the silence. “Mr. Francisco, this is your plea to terminate your marriage of 39 years. Have you already agreed with Ms. Matilde as to the details of the settlement or do you wish for me to hear the matter and pronounce on the issues?” I translated faithfully and precisely but somewhat fearful that the couple might not understand his legalese. But he answered clearly and deliberately, “Yes, your Honor, we’ve come to an agreement.” The judge followed with, “What, then, is the agreement? Do you have something in writing?” A profound silence ensued as the old gentleman searched his wrinkled hands for an answer. Then he spoke up, again clearly and methodically. “Your Honor, it’s that we no longer want a divorce.”
I immediately translated into English. The judge was taken aback and responded in honest amazement while directing his question toward the woman. “Is this true, madam? You no longer want a divorce?” “Yes, your Honor,” she replied without hesitation. We talked about it. We’re going to keep on living together.” The judge quickly withdrew the man’s plea for divorce. The couple rose as old folk do: first carefully pushing back on the table to stand and then leaning their weight on the table to catch their breath. Their thick and wrinkled hands found each other. Hands clasped together, and moving with the ungainliness of their years; they slowly pushed past the double doors of the courtroom. The short proceeding left a spell of profound silence in the courtroom. After a long pause, the judge called the next matter on the calendar. But the impalpable scene remained. The aging couple walked away together, their joined hands seemed to display unbroken affection and a need to support each other as they walked into the rest of their life journey.
Ever since our first parents implied that somehow God was to blame for what “the serpent” did to them, humanity has constantly presented a plea for divorce from God. It has come up with many heady, and seemingly persuasive arguments:
“God does not really exist. God is dead. If God does exist, God is cruel and unjust. God allows way too much suffering, poverty, and death. The Bible contains nothing but myths. The best evidence points to evolution, not a theistic creation. It’s up to humankind to save itself. Should God exist, God cannot forgive my sins; they are too many, too persistent, and way too huge.”
But on the cross, Christ took our place. With His plea, He cried out, “I will not divorce you, I will not let you divorce me, I love you, I love you way too much, I love you forever. I love you so much I have died for you.” Our senseless divorce plea is drowned out by the voice of our groom Jesus Christ who cries out, “I will never forsake you or abandon you… Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Heb. 13:5; Is. 41:10 NABRE). To God, neither our unbelief nor our unfaithfulness, nor perversity nor indifference is a cause for divorce. On the cross, Christ paid the price for all our sins and gave us the most precious pearl as a wedding present: His own righteousness! This perfect righteousness is our wedding garment. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Is. 61:10, NRSV).
Then, Jesus our Groom, with His nail-scarred hands takes our hands and walks out with us from that ultimate courtroom, and into eternity – His eternity – and a never-ending wedding feast.
Ultimately, we will all find ourselves at God’s judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10). However, there will be no divorce decree for those who believe in His Son. The Judge will say: It’s unwarranted, no judicial cause on account of Christ’s plea.” Then, Jesus our Groom, with His nail-scarred hands takes our hands and walks out with us from that ultimate courtroom, and into eternity – His eternity – and a never-ending wedding feast. It’s celebrated with bread and wine in infinite supply. There is no hushed courtroom here. The great multitude present exclaims, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13 NRSV).