As a young man, just learning the Bible, I struggled with two concepts. One was the idea that I “loved” Jesus. I respected Him, I believed in Him, but I didn’t know Him in any different sense. What added to my trouble was the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” Apparently, I was going to be married to Him? This literally repulsed me. I had no interest in a romance with a man much less a marriage. Gross! So I put both ideas to the farthest reaches of my mind and kept us “just friends.”
Years later, I have a better sense of love for Christ. I owe Him everything and when I was at my lowest point, He did not desert, insult or despise me. Instead, He redeemed and rebuilt me. Later He empowered me. I will never forget the debt I owe Him which is immense on many levels both personal and theological. No one is more loyal to you than Jesus. So I understand love. But what is this marriage thing?
I am glad you asked. Here is what I have learned.
Marriage here is a symbol used to describe a long lasting, faithful, committed and personal relationship. It represents the penultimate human relationship. What Jesus means by the word though is signified by the ancient Jewish marriage customs. The significant parts of the Jewish marriage ceremony are all representative of aspects of our relationship with Christ as we will see.
Part One Betrothal
This was a binding contract usually between the respective parents agreeing to a marriage between their children. This was most important for the groom who eagerly sought a suitable wife and he paid for the privilege with a dowry called a mohar. Only a divorce could break a betrothal although the bride was often consulted first to get her acceptance.
This is OUR point of decision, our commitment. Jesus paid the mohar on the cross and He is the one who sought us out. We have received the invitation to a relationship with Jesus and we can accept or not.
Part Two The Contract
These are written promises made by the groom in a document called the Ketubah. The bride cherished this document all of her life (assuming her marriage was a loving one.) After the presentation of this contract, the couple shares a cup of wine together.
The Bible is our ketubah and it contains God’s promises to us which we learn to cherish. The wine is the symbol of the covenant and is celebrated as the communion sacrament.
Part Three The Bridegroom gives gifts
This is observed in Genesis 24 when the servant of Abraham courted Rebekah on behalf of Isaac. He gave her and her family very expensive gifts when the contract was agreed to.
For us this gift is the infinitely valuable Holy Spirit.
Part Four The Mikvah or Bath in Ceremonial Waters
This is a ritual purification performed by the bride to indicate her purity and faithfulness.
Obviously, for us this is baptism.
Part Five The Groom Returns Home
The groom now returns to his Father’s home to prepare a place attached to it for he and his bride to live.
The parallel between this and the promise of Jesus in John 14 where He says “I go and prepare a place for you” while referring to His Father’s house, is readily apparent. This was fulfilled in the ascension of Jesus to heaven in Luke 24.
Part Six The Bride Waits
The bride waits patiently and sometimes for many years for her groom to return for her. She has no idea when he will come.
Clearly, we have waited for a couple thousand years and are still waiting but Jesus will return!
Part Seven The Groom Returns
The groom comes with his friends and the bride with her friends return to his house usually in a joyous journey filled with laughter and delight. A place has been built in the father’s house to receive them where they spend 7 days after the ceremony.
This is I believe the rapture and the 7 year tribulation period.
Part Eight The Wedding Feast
After emerging from their place in the Father’s house for seven days, then there is a wedding feast with lots of celebrants.
This is the marriage feast of the Lamb mentioned in the Bible. Plenty of delicious cheeseburgers and diet coke for all!! (Plus some other food probably which is not worth mentioning.) Calories are abolished.
Reading this you realize that our relationship with Jesus is secure because the contract cannot be broken since only the groom can initiate the divorce and He will not ever do so. We are presented according to Ephesians perfect and without blemish which is a miracle of His power considering how sinful we are.
Marrying a guy is gross but an eternal relationship with Jesus who loves me? I can live with that. In fact, it’s already started.
Ephesians 5:27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
ps: This is my first submission since June. I have been busy but I also could not think of anything that I wished to write about. I realized recently that I can always write about what is in the Bible. I love to study and teach the Bible. I will focus on that mostly with the freedom to write about other things as I am inspired to do so.