“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
John 14:3 (NIV)
Let’s time travel back to the custom of marriage in Jesus’ lifetime in order to better understand the metaphor of the church as His bride. Every marriage during His time and culture began with the father of the groom, who sent his servant to negotiate the marriage arrangement. A generous price was paid to the bride’s family and a binding contract was signed. The servant then returned to the master’s house, and the Son excitedly began to prepare his bridal chamber. It could take up to a year for the groom to construct and prepare the place for his bride. Through that same negotiating servant, the groom sends his betrothed bride an engagement gift of gold jewelry. The engaged bride wears her gifts of betrothal, while waiting for her wedding day. She had to be ready at any moment, because the day and time of the groom’s arrival was unknown, but would be announced with a trumpet call and a shout. When I learned about these traditions, it brought new meaning to the words of Jesus, promising that He is going to prepare a place for us. The church is His bride and His Father paid the highest possible cost, with His Son’s divine, precious blood. That is the binding marriage contract. The resurrected Jesus is betrothed to whoever will accept His proposal, and He prepares a place for them, in His Father’s mansion. Instead of gold jewelry, He adorns us with the engagement gifts of His Spirit, the many spiritual gifts that He distributes to all who make up His bride, the church. We wear these betrothal gifts, and use them while we are waiting for His return. We are still residing in our current home, but we are being prepared to live in a better and eternal one. Everything that happens in our lives, has been for the goal of this union, and motivated by His love, to prepare and purify us for the consummation of our marriage to the Lamb of God. The date is unknown, and will be a surprise, announced by an angel’s trumpet call and a shout from heaven. We are His betrothed bride, and as Jesus prepares the place for us, His Spirit is still preparing us for Him. We look forward to His second coming, and the marriage supper of the Lamb will be the greatest wedding feast of all time. We will learn how our whole life has been a temporary place of preparation, and how every purpose God had for us was motivated by His pure and infinite love for us. On that day we will meet the One who gave Himself for us and has loved us with an everlasting love. The end of the book of Revelation echos the longing of every believer’s heart, saying “The Spirit and the bride say Come.” Jesus assured His bride, saying, “Yes, I am coming soon,” and as our eyes look toward Him, we say “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus”.