Summary: The life of Jesus paralled the marriage arrangements of the Jews. Understanding these traditions help us to better understand what it means to be his "bride."
Let’s begin by reading Revelation 19:6-8 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. Let us pray.
“The bride has prepared herself.” I have always had a hard time understanding what it meant to be a bride. I guess it’s because I am a man. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:2 “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.” I also should attempt to present to Jesus this church body as a pure bride through my teachings. I have an obligation to instruct you on how to be that “pure bride.” But first I must understand it.
So I did some research on the early Jewish marriage arrangements and discovered a lot of what Jesus reflected in his life reflected the establishment of a marriage contract with us.
The marriage arrangement could have been placed in a format of ten steps. Today we will discover how these ten steps lead to our relationship with Jesus.
1) First step The father chooses the bride. He would send a friend or trusted servant to come to terms and make the arrangements. Let us read Gen 24:1-4 “Abraham was now a very old man, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh. Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”
Philippians 2:6-7 reminds us that Jesus “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”
He became a servant sent by the Father to find the bride. “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” (John 6:44) Of course this drawing is the work of the Holy Spirit.
2) The second step would be to secure the price. This price would be something of great value. Abraham’s servant took with him “ten camels with all kinds of expensive gifts” (Gen 24:10) The price would reflect the wealth of the groom and his family. It also reflected the worth of the bride to the groom.
God also gave something of great value. He gave his “one and only son” (John 3:16) This is how Peter put it. “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
3) Now the responsibility shifts to the bride, The bride must agree. She is often being asked to marry a stranger. In most cases she has never even seen him or knows his age. Her family and friends may try to pressure her but ultimately the decision is her’s to make. Remember Rebekah? The servant has sought her out and offers a price for her. Her family agreed to the price “So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. And she replied, “Yes, I will go.” (Gen 24:58)
She has no knowledge of this man or the land she is traveling toward but she has a sense of security that she is making the right decision.
Peter says of Jesus “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” (1 Peter 1:8)
But God has given each of us the free choice to say “no” to his offer. To say “yes” we “declare with our mouth that Jesus is Lord.” (Romans 10:9)
4) The bride has been chosen and she has accepted. The price has been secured. So the fourth step is to share the cup. It is at this point the bride and groom would drink wine from the same cup. They are now officially married although it will be some time before they share the marriage bed. The groom would make a verbal commitment to his bride which would include his promise to return to her after all arraignments for their life together have been made. The bride would not need to make any such commitment. The groom would also shower his bride with gifts.