Throughout Scripture the marriage relationship is used as a picture of God's relationship with His people. The bride and groom imagery highlights not only the covenantal love of God for His people but also their position within that relationship as the beneficiaries of His redemptive pursuit. A common theme woven within the thread of Scripture, from the Old Testament to the New, is God's unwavering, unalterable, unceasing pursuit of His people into the consecrating and cleansing relationship of eternal marriage.
This is why the hallmark of all God's grievances against His people is spiritual adultery, a heinous infidelity on the part of His people as they pursue lesser lovers and stray outside the conditions of the covenantal relationship (Jeremiah 13:27; Mark 8:38). God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:3-5; Deuteronomy 6:14-15), not because He lacks in companionship but because He longs for the exclusive affections of His people, as a groom does so for his bride.
Jesus adopts the imagery of bride and groom as it pertains to His present application of the New Covenant and His future consummation of salvation through the great, eternal marriage with the Church. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), Jesus allegorizes Himself as the bridegroom and urges His disciples to stay alert, because they do not know the day or the hour He will return and take them to the eternal wedding celebration, i.e., the Kingdom. He again refers to Himself as the bridegroom while instructing His disciples on the proper purpose and function of fasting: Mark 2:18-20 - Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day." As the bridegroom He will return to take His bride home, yet in the meantime, while He is present with them, fasting and longing for His return is not necessary.
ANTICIPATION, EXPECTATION AND PREPARATION
The central focus of the wedding imagery in Scripture is anticipation, expectation and preparation. It closely mirrors the traditional order of a first century wedding which involved a father arranging a bride for his son and paying the pre-determined "bride price" on her behalf. The son would then return to his father's house to make arrangements while the bride consecrated herself in eager anticipation for his final return for her. Neither the groom or the bride knew the time or date of their reunion. Only the father did. When all necessary arrangements had been made according to the father's standards, he would send the son to bring his waiting bride home. The terms of the relationship were sealed with a ceremonial sharing of a glass of wine before the two parted ways and entered a time of anticipation and preparation leading up to the final wedding feast.
JESUS, THE FATHER AND THE BRIDE
In strikingly similar fashion, God the Father has sent Jesus the Son to secure His bride, the Church. The terms of the covenantal relationship between God and His people have been outlined in the Gospel and a great price has been paid by the Father to secure the relationship, namely, through the sacrifice of the Son on the Cross: 1 Corinthians 6:20 - "…you were bought with a price". The night before He would go to the Cross, Jesus shared a cup with His disciples as a means of symbolically sealing their new covenantal relationship (Luke 22:14-20). He instructed them to partake of this cup after His departure in remembrance of the price He paid for them and in anticipation of His future and final return for them.
Upon His departure He will go to His Father's house to prepare a place, but will return one day to bring His bride home with Him forever: John 14:2-3 - "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." The day and the hour of His return are unknown by all but the Father: Matthew 24:26 - "...concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." The Bride of Christ, the Church, eagerly waits and makes herself ready, setting herself apart for Him and Him alone, purifying herself for the day when He will return for her forever (1 Peter 1:13-16). He will come, and when He does the eternal wedding feast will commence (Revelation 19:7-8).
EASTER AND THE WONDER OF THE GOSPEL
The recognition of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter is not an isolated act of God but a pinnacle point of progression in the on-going bride-groom narrative running throughout the current of Scripture. It’s the celebration of God acquiring a Bride for His Son through the ultimate price of death paid on the Cross. It’s the height of God’s radical, redemptive pursuit of a sinful and broken people to secure them as His beautifully treasured Bride.
Easter is the joyous celebration of the wonder of the Gospel - that God has gone to great lengths to secure us for His Son. We are forever bound to Jesus by His death that purchased us and His resurrection that secured us into a future inheritance that is “…imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
So we live in this present day as those who are consecrated to our future Groom – holy, set apart, uniquely and distinctively His. We live today with an eager sense of anticipation for the return of our Groom on a tomorrow yet to come. We live today as those who are valued not by the standards of this world but by the infinite price our Savior was willing to pay for us on the Cross. We are invaluably His, and He is ours.
We anticipate, we expect and we prepare. Our Groom is coming back to take us home.