By Christie Thadikonda
Jesus Christ is often referred to as ‘The Bridegroom’. This analogy can be understood clearly if one followed the ancient Jewish wedding cultural traditions.
Marriage was an agreement between two families rather than between two individuals. The marriage consisted of two separate ceremonies a betrothal and a wedding, which were celebrated at two different times.
In a Jewish wedding, the fathers arranged the match. The father received a dowry in marrying off his daughter whereas he had to give a dowry (which is called the Bride Price and it was very costly), when marrying off his son. The bride is consulted, and the marriage is arranged. The other formalities are finally negotiated.
The bridegroom’s father pours out a cup of wine and gives it to his son. The bridegroom then offers the cup of wine to the bride and proposes to her, “I offer this cup to you, I love you. I offer you my life.” By drinking from the cup, the bride affirms to the bridegroom, “I accept your life and give mine in return.”
This constituted a betrothal, the woman was considered to be legally bound to that man, though she remained in her father’s house until marriage. The bride remained pure and faithful, and she could not belong to another man. The bridegroom goes back to his father’s home, makes space for himself at his father’s place and then comes back to get his bride. The Marriage ceremony follows; the woman is brought to her groom’s house accompanied by a procession with great pomp and show, and the marriage is consummated.
The Bride Price – The bride price in a marriage worked as a purchase and a gift. The price was equivalent of bride’s value as a useful member of the family. The bride price that God set was staggering, it had to be paid with Jesus’ blood. The phrase “Purchased by His blood” is heard quite often (Acts 20:28). It is exactly what it means, we belong to Christ.
A Proposal – The night before His crucifixion Jesus gathered with His disciples in the Upper room, He took the cup and gave it to them and in essence He said, “I offer to you this cup, I love you. I offer you my life” (Matthew 26:27-28). Here’s an invitation for you and for me to drink from the cup and say, “I accept your life and give mine in return.”
As was the Jewish custom, the bridegroom goes back to his father’s place to make room for himself and his bride.
We read in John 14:2-3 where Jesus Himself says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: 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; so that where I am, there you may be also.”
Are we excited and anticipating the bridegroom’s coming? Are we living a pure and faithful life for Him alone?
The Bridegroom Returns – Now this one is interesting because it is party time. Once the bridegroom finished his preparations, he would come to get his bride. The groom would come sometime during the night, accompanied by the male escorts carrying lamps to light their procession. The bride anticipates the bridegroom’s return but does not know when exactly (hence the need to be prepared).
We read in Matthew 25:1-13, a parable of the ten bridesmaids and we are reminded to be prepared. The groom arrives with a shout to get the attention that they have arrived. The bride’s escorts carrying lamps would join the procession. They are all supposed to feast and celebrate once the bridegroom arrived.
Are we prepared to meet the Bridegroom? Are our lamps trimmed and ready? Do we have enough oil for our lamps?
Let us be ready, The Bridegroom—Jesus Christ is coming.
Christie Bernard Thadikonda is a Leadership Scholar of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is pursuing a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Biblical Studies and a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He is actively involved with the Students Ministry, and Community Missions at Gayton Baptist Church in Henrico County, Virginia.