(6.) On Christ as the Bridegroom

(6.) On Christ as the Bridegroom

(6.) On Christ as the Bridegroom.

“You heard me tell you before that I am not the Messiah, but certainly I am the messenger sent ahead of Him. He is the Bridegroom, and the bride belongs to Him. I am the friend of the Bridegroom who stands nearby and listens with great joy to the Bridegroom’s voice. And because of His words my joy is complete and overflows!” (John the Baptist, in John 3:29, TPT).

In the Hebrew Bible. Prophets in the Jewish Scriptures loved to refer to God as a husband or a bridegroom to the chosen people. They loved to speak the truth that He considered Himself married to His people. God used the metaphor of marriage, evidently, because that is the closest earthly union, the most intimate and meaningful, that provides a way of communicating the love God has for His followers.

  1. “For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is His name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” (Isaiah 54:5);
  2. “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5);
  3. “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband.” (Jeremiah 3:14);
  4. “It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.” (Jeremiah 31:32);
  5. “In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’; I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion; I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea 2:16, 20).

In the New Testament. The earliest Christians also loved to think about Jesus as the Bridegroom, the fulfillment of all the Jewish Scriptures about God being the husband. They thought of the Church as His bride, and they considered the relationship between Christ and His followers to be a spousal relationship in a spiritual sense.

  1. Matthew: “Then John’s disciples came and asked Him, ‘How is it that we and Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the Bridegroom mourn while He is with them? The time will come when the Bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:14-15; also refer to Mark 2:19);
  2. Paul: “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him.” (2 Corinthains 11:2);
  3. Paul: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault… No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of His body…. As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife as the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” (Ephesians 5:25-27, 29-32);
  4. John: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 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… Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, “These are the true words of God.'” (Revelation 19:7, 9);
  5. John: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among the people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.”  (Revelation 21:2-3).

A Parable about the Bridegroom. Jesus told a story about a bridegroom, representing Himself, and the ten bridesmaids (Matthew 25:13). In the story, the bridesmaids are waiting for the bridegroom to appear for the wedding feast, an obvious reference to the second coming of Christ. The bridegroom is late, and no one knows when he will appear. Unfortunately, when he finally does appear, some of the bridesmaids were not ready to escort him to the wedding hall. The bridegroom closed the door against the five foolish maidens. The maidens demanded that the bridegroom open the door to the feast, and the groom’s response is clear and unambiguous: “No! I do not know you!” When Jesus dropped that bombshell into the story, the Jewish audiences knew well the biblical reference. In the Jewish faith, knowledge is not limited to head-knowledge. To know someone in the biblical sense was very relational. One example even went so far as to say that Adam knew Eve. Knowledge implies a relationship, a deep personal one, in which each partner intimately knows and loves the other at the heart level. So, in this story, the bridegroom didn’t know the foolish maidens well enough to admit them to the wedding feast. Once again, here is Jesus as the Bridegroom, able and willing to truly know His followers, if only they would pursue a personal relationship with Him. We don’t know when the Bridegroom is coming for His Bride, so it is wise for us to pursue a deep friendship with Jesus now while we can.

Betrothal. One way of thinking about the current relationship between Christ and His followers is to consider the idea of betrothal. In Jewish marriage, a couple becomes betrothed as they commit themselves to a future marriage. Betrothal was a very formal contract and not a mere engagement period that could be easily called off at any moment. Betrothal was a binding commitment to a covenant relationship. When Christ became incarnate, lived out His life on earth, died, and then rose from the dead, He betrothed Himself to believers. Christ and His followers committed themselves to each other. We are now in a state of spiritual betrothal, a formal relationship of love that anticipates a marriage in the future. When Christ returns for His Bride, the Church, He will then consummate the relationship with the Wedding of the Lamb. When Christ comes to marry His Bride, the wedding will complete the betrothal, and the spousal love between the Bridegroom and the Bride will be forever.

  1. Jesus is not just a king here on Palm Sunday; He is a betrothed king – an engaged king. And soon He will be a married king. His betrothed bride is the people of God – the people who trust Him, the church. He came the first time 2,000 years ago to die for His bride – to pay a dowery, as it were, with His own blood. And He will come a second time to marry her and take us – His church – into the gardens and the chambers of His love and joy forever.” (from a sermon by John Piper);
  2. “With Christ’s life, death on the Cross, and resurrection, Jesus became the living embodiment of the bridegroom, and a faithful husband who was willing to give up His life for the one He loved.” (Joel Ryan).
  3. “When the bride is betrothed, all the sanctities of marriage are involved in those espousals. There may be a considerable interval before the bride is taken to her husband’s house. She dwells with her former household and has not yet forgotten her kindred and her father’s house, though she is espoused in truth and righteousness. Afterward, she is brought home on an appointed day, the day which we should call the actual marriage. It was the bridegroom’s responsibility to prepare or build the place where the couple will live after the marriage” (Keith Thomas). (as in John 14:3… “I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”).
  4. “In the ancient Jewish wedding, upon betrothal the bride receives gifts from the bridegroom. As believers, we have been given the gifts of the Spirit, when we accept Yeshua into our lives, when we accept His ‘proposal’.”  (Diane Shirlaw-Ferrera).

The wedding at Cana. “Each of us is made for union with God…  a union so intimate that He describes it as spousal love. Jesus is the Bridegroom announcing His wedding with humanity. This is shown through His first miracle. At the wedding reception in Cana, the groom runs out of wine. At the prompting of His mother Mary, Jesus decides to begin manifesting Himself by changing water into wine. Since it was the groom’s responsibility to provide the wine, through this miracle Jesus shows Himself to be the long-awaited Bridegroom.” (Fr. David Endres).

Mt. Sinai. The OT prophets have likened the covenant between God and Israel to a marriage covenant. The events on Mt. Sinai, then, are often compared to a wedding. Jewish weddings have been patterned after that sacred covenant, thus giving all their weddings a special sense of sanctity and celebration. “To the Jews, the Mt. Sinai revelation is called the Ten Words and was the “ketubah”, the engagement covenant, between Yahweh-God and Israel. And so, all the bride and bridegroom pictures in Old Testament Scriptures resonate with and expand on this picture… story, prophecy, song, and more. Weddings to the Jews were much, much more than just weddings. So for the wine to run out was a shame to the bridegroom and a horror to the people of Israel. Where was their God? And then what a miracle! John calls it the First Sign, the very first sign, of God-with-us, of the Bridegroom. And here it was a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, Galilee of the Gentiles, a mixed company.” (Sheridan Larson).

Knocking on the Door. “Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person’s side.” (Revelation 3:20).  “This points us to the process of an ancient Jewish wedding invitation in the days of Jesus. A bridegroom and his father would come to the door of the bride-to-be, carrying the betrothal cup of wine and the bride-price. Standing outside, they would knock. If she fully opened the door, she was saying, ‘Yes, I will be your bride.’ Jesus and His Father, in the same way, are knocking on the doors of our hearts, inviting us to be the bride of Christ.” (Dr. Brian Simmons).

A Great Mystery. “There’s a passage in Ephesians 5 where Paul begins by addressing wives and husbands, and ends by expounding upon Christ’s sweet, deep love for His Bride, the Church, His people. And in the overflow of his enthusiasm, Paul writes, ‘You are being invited into a Great Mystery.’ This Greek word ‘mysterion’ is used 28 times in the New Testament. It means ‘a sacred secret, something that God has hidden from ancient times and that can only be revealed by God.’ (Brian Simmons). A mystery that God Himself has to reveal to us. The more we peer into this mystery of Bride and Bridegroom, the more we see that it is about love – God’s love, Bridegroom love – for us. This love is for you, as an individual, with Christ Jesus as your Bridegroom-Redeemer. But it is also about the love Yahweh-God has for His people Israel. And the love Christ has for His Church. In all cases, God is communicating His love for us, His desire for relationship with us, His commitment to us in covenantal love, and the fruitfulness of our love relations with Him.” (Sheridan Larson).

The entire history of salvation is a divine love story between Creator and creature, between God and Israel, between Christ and His bride… the life of Christ is nothing less than the greatest love story ever told.”  (Brant Pitre).

4 Replies to “(6.) On Christ as the Bridegroom”

  1. Being courted, called, chosen and made holy by God prepares His Bride to be perfected in His ❤️ of love for each of us to be a

  2. Wow.What a picture.There is a lot to unpack there.I must read it again.
    I put a gold ring on my left finger last year committing to myself I was married to God.After turning 60 and still no husband I thought it was time ,not to give up on a earthy husband but, to embrace my heavenly husband and he has not disappointed. Good job guys,thanks*jane

  3. Thank you for this compilation, Steve. The theme of weddings and the True Bridegroom throughout Scriptures is enthralling. I’ve read that even baptism is a symbol connected to the Jewish wedding traditions 🙂

  4. Thanks for this. I’m ministering tomorrow (Sunday) at Abounding Grace Church…and woven into the ministry of the Word…will be a marriage. I’m planning to speak on the mystery of the bride and Bridegroom in scripture…Christ and His church…and the amazing, mysterious, glorious love relationship.
    Big thanks for the inspiration!