Summary: God’s word is the water that we must bathe in daily. We wash away everything that does not conform to the image of Christ. As God’s ’wife’ it must be our earnest desire for him to see us as beautiful and pleasing. O that we could be his delight.
Opening illustration: Watch the video clip ‘God’s Valentine.’
Introduction: The imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church. These are those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal savior and have received eternal life. In the New Testament, Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride (Ephesians 5 (quickview) : 25-27). Just as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility during the betrothal period is to be faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 11 (quickview) : 2; Ephesians 5 (quickview) : 24). At the Second Coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official "wedding ceremony" will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19 (quickview) : 7-9; 21: 1-2).
Who is the ‘Bride of Christ?’
• Some say Israel is the bride of Christ. They base their opinion on a verse in Isaiah: “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 54 (quickview) : 5).
• New Jerusalem was beautifully adorned as a bride, John said, because it will be the eternal home of Christ’s bride. But notice that while it was a prepared city and a beautiful city, it was never called the bride.
• The Bible teaches that the church is the bride of Christ. To better understand this teaching about the bride of Christ, let’s review the ancient Jewish wedding.
(a) The Price of Marriage
Now if a man wanted to marry her he had to ask her father. If the father was agreeable he would set the bride price. This bride price was whatever the father set and had to be paid by the prospective husband before the marriage would take place.
(b) The Covenant Marriage
In Jeremiah 31 (quickview) : 31-33 God declared that His covenant was a marriage contract at Mount Sinai saying, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 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, declares the LORD”.
Why make another covenant? Because the first covenant was of the letter and the letter kills but the new covenant is of the Spirit and the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3 (quickview) : 6). This new covenant is another marriage contract that will not be broken. It was sealed with the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary! Before Jesus was crucified, He gathered His apostles during His last Passover meal and took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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 (quickview) : 27-29). There are several key points to what Jesus said in this passage. First we must understand Jewish wedding customs to grasp fully what He was saying. When a Jewish man proposed marriage to a Jewish woman, He would give her a contract called a Ketubah. In the contract were all the promises to his future bride. It also stated the price he would pay to obtain her. If she agreed, the bridegroom would hand her a cup of wine, if she drank from the cup the marriage was sealed and they became legally married. He would then say to her “I will not drink of this cup until we are reunited”. This was said because they would separate for at least a year as he prepared a place for them. Another reason he would not drink of the cup again was because if he did he would be proposing to someone else! No wonder Jesus said, “drink from it, all of you”, because their acceptance of the cup meant they would be legally married. He also said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”. In this statement Jesus was laying out the price He would pay to obtain His bride. The wages of sin is death and He paid this on our behalf (Romans 6 (quickview) : 23). He could pay this because He Himself was without sin (Hebrews 4 (quickview) : 15). Have you partaken of His cup? If you have, did you realize you have already accepted marriage to Jesus! Does this change your commitment and faithfulness to Him? It should, knowing that God has called you to have an intimate relationship with Him. You therefore should seek to know the depth of this relationship so you may “know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3 (quickview) : 19).