Richard Maxwell – Breaking the Bowl – Craigavon, Ireland – 2005

Before we sing the next hymn, I would like to tell you of a marriage ceremony in Taiwan. They find a ravine with a bridge across it. The bride stands on one side and the bridegroom stands on the other side. He takes a rope and ties it to the bridge and swings across. As he comes, he is trusting his very life, trusting his life to this relationship. When he comes across and the bride sees him come, she can do one of two things. Either she stands there and that means, “No,” or she can take a small jump of faith and leaves her past life behind, leaves the safety of the other side behind and trusts that the one who stretched the line to her will catch her. They hold on to each other and together, they cross the rope and the bridge. From that time on, the two become one.
The hymn says, “Saved while to Thee I cling.” We were encouraged lately to hear someone say, “I’ve got something and I’m going to cling to it.” Our testimony is what we say about ourselves. Then there is what others say about me and what is more important what God says about me. In our testimony, we are saying from experience something about Jesus. As this bride is clinging to the bridegroom on the rope, she would have faith in him. Nothing gives life to a testimony like a little step of faith. There is nothing more beautiful than our testimony if we are clinging fast to the Bridegroom.
Hymn 195, We heard of vision. Abraham was living in his tent. He would have known every corner of it, the four walls, the earth floor, and the tent roof. He could have been in bondage in his tent. God brought Abraham out of his tent and told him to look at the stars and try to count them. One thing that Abraham saw when he looked at the stars was that all was well. We cannot change the stars. If we can go home with the same conviction all is well.
When I was a little lad, I used to build model airplanes. The airplanes were not real airplanes but they were real models – real models of the real thing. Later, when Dad took me for my first plane ride, I had learned a lot about the real thing just by playing with the models. The Old Testament is like one long shelf of models. The real thing is the relationship between Christ and His bride.
I was thinking of a model which you won’t find in the Old Testament but you’ll find it in Armenia. They have this marriage custom. They exchange their bonds and then when they come to the doorstep of the house where they are going to live, the bridegroom puts a bowl on the doorstep and crushes it, a bowl from his previous life. The bride takes a bowl from her previous life, puts it down on the doorstep and crushes it as well. The bridegroom takes the pile of broken pottery – there were two bowls but now there is one – and they enter into the house where the door is closed and they are a couple. When the bridegroom breaks his bowl, he is saying, “The life I could have lived, I will not live. I could use my bowl but I will break it.” The bride says that the bowl she could have used, the life she could have lived, she will not live. By taking up the fragments, the bridegroom is saying, “I will protect you, I will cherish, I will care for you. If one of us has to die, I will be the one.” Have we broken the bowl yet to be the bride?
The working girl cannot have this victory that the bride has of resting in the bridegroom. When Mum got the wallet to go down to the shops, she was getting the victory not because she worked hard but because Dad worked hard. There is a big difference between a working girl and a bride because the bride rests in the care of the bridegroom because he worked and he’s still working. The bride gives her all. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we gave our all as God’s people and rest in the Bridegroom but it will cost you your all. It is not a matter of working hard but resting in the Bridegroom.
The bride has the right to the care of the Bridegroom. Two becoming one, have these spiritual realities because the bowl is broken. The bridegroom’s role.
When Jesus was on earth, He had a body like I have and it had the same urges. It was like Jesus was walking down a long hallway and on the sides of this corridor were lots of doors. He would walk down it perfectly and He didn’t go in at any of the doors because two would become one. Any time a door was open, He would resist it. Sometimes, Satan would say, “Look in.” But Jesus had the weapon of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was able to have no compromise. When He reached the end of the hall, He turned round and offered the sacrifice for His Bride. There are a thousand things He could have done with His life, doors He could have opened but He resisted that.
He denied Himself. We are not saved because we deny ourselves but we are saved because we possess a relationship with Jesus and because of this, we will deny ourselves.
There is nothing more pointless than a garden with a high wall and no living plant inside and there is nothing more correct than healthy flourishing plants and yes, a wall. To break the bowl, it will cost you everything you have, even life. You will have the peace, the joy, the relationship with Him but you have to break the bowl. To live the New Testament life, we have to give all because Jesus gave all. When there is consecration, when the bowl is broken, then we will live in the care of the Bridegroom.
There are two sides to His care. One side is when He cares for us through failure. But while that is true, He also cares by giving victory. We can’t go on continually living in failure. There is only care for the bride. Provision of intercession for victory because the bowl is broken. When Moses held his hands up, the soldiers of Israel had perfect victory. The enemy were many times stronger but the soldier of Israel would face the Amalekites and there was victory. The Israelite would realize, “I didn’t use my own strength,” he would turn round, look up the hill and look to Moses. We need to realize what a marvelous provision of intercession is there to give victory.