Yeshua/Jesus consistently sounded the “Wedding theme” throughout His ministry time with us — and since. His ministry even began with His “turning water into wine” at a wedding celebration in Cana, even though this was apparently unplanned. Marriage is a powerful picture of oneness. Of our becoming worthy to be citizens of His kingdom. Of the deep love of a “Bridegroom” who longs to see His “bride” appear spotless and beautiful before Him.
In ancient Hebrew culture, marriage was surrounded by a rich, if somewhat folksy, tradition. The young man who had identified the young woman with whom he wanted to share his life would gather his financial resources. He would go to the young woman’s home. He would take wine with him. He and the young woman would often be seated at a table. He would pour a glass of wine and extend it to her. If she chose to drink it, this indicated her acceptance of his betrothal. The prospective groom would then make arrangements with her father for a gift of money or other valuable items that the bride’s father would receive. But if she chose not to “drink the cup,” the young man would gather his things and leave.
We remember Yeshua’s asking His disciples, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” He framed this question in Jewish wedding-tradition language.
If the young woman accepted the young man’s proposal, he would return to his father’s house and begin preparing her a place — often not more than a room added to his father’s home. But this room was sometimes referred to as their “mansion”! The prospective groom might have been overly hasty in his enthusiasm for his new life, so only his father could say when the addition was complete and sufficiently well done that his son could bring his bride.
During the time that it was being built, when people would inquire about when they would be married, the groom would reply, “Only my father knows.” The groom often went to claim his bride in the middle of the night! This practice increased the suspense and excitement. The bride-to-be, assisted by her wedding “party,” had to be ready to depart for her new life with her groom at a moment’s notice.
When disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t fast, as they and the Pharisees did, He answered by characterizing Himself as “the bridegroom”! “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.”
Like the prospective groom’s giving his prospective bride’s father a gift of money or other valuable items, the apostle Paul tells us that we are “bought with a price.”
It’s well known that the Church is figuratively described as the “Bride” of Christ. Yeshua tells us that we are to be ready — to know the signs and seasons of His return. He tells us that He will come for us at a time that we don’t expect Him! He tells us that, like the groom of old, He is “going to prepare a place for” us. That “In my Father’s house are many ‘mansions.’” Like a trustworthy bridegroom, He reassures us, “If these things were not so, I would have told you.” And when asked about the timing of last-days events, He replies, “Only the Father knows.”
Jesus sounded the Wedding note from that first wedding at Cana throughout His ministry on earth. And finally in Revelation, His angel speaks of the coming marriage supper of the Lamb!
Hebrew scholar Dr. Karl Coke has said that a closer translation of the familiar “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” that Jesus said from the cross, in part to remind us that He was fulfilling the words of Psalm 22, would be: “My God, My God, why have You bachelored me?” Dr. Coke explained, “He saw that He wouldn’t have His ‘bride’ until He got to the other side of the cross.”
In John 17 we find Jesus speaking less figuratively about the wedding. Having responded to a questioner earlier in His ministry to the effect that in heaven we won’t marry, His prayer offered shortly before the crucifixion, in John 17, speaks plainly of oneness. This is one of the precious places in Scripture where we are told that we have the opportunity to become like Him! His prayer here is that we in all ways — with everything we have — will join Him.
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