Jesus as bridegroom?

I’ve been doing a Bible Study on Revelation since the fall. This week we were asked to think about some of the ways Jesus is described in the passages and discuss which one appeals to us more. The images we were to choose from were Jesus as the Bridegroom and Jesus as Warrior King.
As I pondered both these images, I realized I actually couldn’t really picture or identify with Jesus as Bridegroom. There is plenty of imagery in the gospels describing Jesus as such – in John 14 when he tells the disciples that He’s going to prepare a place for them, in many parables about the kingdom of God for example. Paul uses the analogy of marriage quite often to describe the relationship between Christ and his church. And then in Revelation we read how the Apostle John has visions of a great wedding banquet – the feast prepared for the church by the Bridegroom. Given my familiarity with all this imagery, I was surprised that I did not identify very much with he Bridegroom. I wondered why that was. Then I realized that in our day, the groom is very often seen as secondary in importance (if even thought of at all!) in preparations for weddings. I remember distinctly (even though it’s been a while…) people talking about our wedding in terms of “my day” or to make sure that I got what I want because the “Bride is always right!” Our culture of weddings and marriage is almost completely opposite of what it was in Bible times. We have somehow relegated the grooms to the bumbling side – spending so much of our preparation for marriage on things like table settings, color coordinated attendants’ outfits, flowers, decorations, THE DRESS, that we neglect some of the most important parts of marriage preparation. Even when the bride and groom wish to live a Christ-centered life and strive to not put too much financial pressures on themselves with a huge, expensive wedding, they are still so swamped with wedding details that it seems hard to find time to do pre-marital counseling, or to spend time discussing the future beyond the honeymoon.

In my own wedding preparations, I did try to push back on the idea that it was “my day” and include my now-husband in the planning. But still, because of events outside our control, most of the wedding preparations and details were handled by me not him. His main role was to buy the honeymoon tickets, pack his bag, and meet me at the church on time. His schedule was dictated by me, not the other way around.

I think this reality makes it hard to identify with Jesus as the groom. Even when the husband is not the caricatured variety that culture so often puts in front of us, we have very little real life experience with a groom as described in scripture.

I don’t mean to suggest in any of this that our husbands and boyfriends have done something wrong or that we’re doing it wrong really. It’s just an interesting change in culture that makes relating to this particular scriptural analogy difficult for me. Like every analogy that scripture gives us to help us understand more about God’s nature, the one of bridegroom can fall short, not because of a lack on God’s part, but because our own human experience is limited. I shared this thought with my bible study leader and she shared with me how this picture of Jesus as Bridegroom was actually very powerful for her because of her experiences. I’m grateful that God has given us so many glimpses of Himself in scripture – little pictures that mirror in some way our experiences here on earth – so that we can begin to comprehend truth about Him. I’m also grateful to have fellowship with other believers, who expand my understanding of God when they share their perspective of scriptural images through the lens of their own experience. What a blessing!

As for me and my husband, he did “go and prepare a place for me” in that I did not see our first apartment until we actually moved in. This was mainly due to our long distance relationship, which I would not wish on anyone! 🙂 It’s a sweet thing to think about him going to look at apartments and visualizing our new life together. When I picture him doing that, I can picture my savior now preparing a place for his followers, finding delight in how we will spend eternity together.

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