Summary: When Jesus returns, what a day of celebration it will be!
The Bible says there are no marriages in Heaven. I’ll recognize Donna as having been my wife on Earth, but we won’t be married in Heaven.
“At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” - Matthew 22:30 (NIV)
There will not be marriages in Heaven; but there will be A marriage in Heaven, the one we read about in this passage - the marriage between Christ and His bride - and every believer will be a part of it!
“As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and 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 5:31-32 (NLT)
Paul says the one-flesh union we know on Earth is a signpost pointing to our relationship with Christ as our bridegroom. Once we reach the destination, the signpost becomes unnecessary. That one marriage - our marriage to Christ - will be so completely satisfying that even the most wonderful earthly marriage couldn’t possibly be as fulfilling.
Earthly marriage is a shadow, a copy, an echo of the true and ultimate marriage. Once that marriage begins, at the lamb’s wedding feast, all the human marriages that pointed to it will have served their noble purpose and be assimilated into the great marriage they foreshadowed. When instituting the “The Lord’s Supper,” Jesus said: “I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” - Matthew 26:29 (NIV)
The day foretold by Jesus is described in our passage. And every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we see it as a foretaste of that ultimate celebration we will be a part of when Jesus returns. You might say that the Lord’s Supper is dress rehearsal for our destiny.
In John 14:1-3, when speaking about preparing a place for us, Jesus used the imagery of the Jewish wedding tradition. In our Lord’s day, if a boy and girl were to be married, they be promised to each other as husband and wife through a betrothal ceremony. The betrothal
ceremony was considered just as binding as marriage.
The couple were considered husband and wife in every way, except they did not live together. The bride remained with her parents and prepared for the day her betrothed husband came and they would be married. The groom, would dwell at his father’s house and would work at preparing a place for them to live together once they were wed.
When preparations were made, the groom would return for his bride, and they’d be married. Often, the groom and his friends would try to surprise the bride and her family, so they had to always be prepared for His return. When he came, it was often in the evening, associated with the sound of a trumpet and the shout of his friends, who announced his arrival. Afterward, the wedding would commence. And associated with the marriage was a celebration. In Revelation l9:7-9, we read that the time for the bridegroom to come for the bride has arrived! Let’s look to John’s description of the ultimate celebration awaiting God’s people.
1. The bride is ready - v.7
In a sense, the bride has always been ready. The moment a person accepts Christ as their Savior, he is ready. Paul says by virtue of our faith in Christ, “God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” - Colossians 1:12 (NIV). But in another sense, the church for which Christ will return will be more ready for Heaven than any other group of God’s people who have ever walked the earth. Christ is not returning for a dead, anemic church.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” - Ephesians 5:25-27 (NIV)
Part of what will determine the timing of our Lord’s return will be the earthly church’s readiness for His return!
“What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward the day of God and speed its coming.” - 2 Peter 3:11-12 (NIV)
2. The bride is robed - v.8
The day has arrived for the good works God has performed through His church to be fully revealed. This is the day that that Paul spoke of:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” - Romans 8:18 (NIV)