Upon further study on the Second Advent of Christ, one would notice that there is a wedding feast planned at the end of Revelation for the Lamb and His bride. Jesus likens Himself to a bridegroom on many occasions in the gospels. Mark 2:19 he says, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast, but a day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them and then they will fast in those days.” Jesus tells parables about the kingdom of Heaven being like a king arranging a marriage for his son or like ten virgins who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom.
I think it fitting to look at the historical context for the use of this metaphor in Jesus’ parables. Of course, we all know a parable to be a story about everyday life that conveys a spiritual message. Therefore, the bridegroom metaphor is linked to the historical Jewish understanding of betrothal.
When it was time for a man to marry, his father would meet the father of a prospective bride and negotiate a bride price, in essence buying the bride for the man. These fathers would drink wine together to seal their agreement and the man was officially betrothed to the woman. The man would say to his fiancée, in effect, “I’m going home to my father’s house to prepare a place for you. When I’ve done that, I’ll return and take you to be my wife.” This declaration is actually word for word what Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:2-3. As an aside, I find it interesting that the Last Supper involves basically a series of toasts that seal the New Covenant.
This husband -to-be then builds a new house onto his father’s existing one, creating a housing complex called an insula. Family members would eat, work, and live together and everyone benefitted as life and values was passed down through the generations. While the bridegroom was building the house, the bride wasn’t idle. She would be preparing clothes and learning homemaking skills. She was known as “one who had been bought with a price.” (See 1 Cor 6:20)
When the father of the bridegroom determined that his son’s house addition was completed, he would send the son to retrieve his bride. Additionally, Jesus said that no one except the Father knows the hour of His coming. (Mark 13:32) Finally, there would be a seven day wedding feast with all the friends and family of the couple in the courtyard of the insula.
If Jesus is the Bridegroom and His church is the bride in this metaphor, what are we to be doing as we wait for our Betrothed to come and take us to our new home? God has already provided the Wedding clothes we are to wear, His righteousness. Jesus commands us to watch and pray, to be ready for the Day. This “one who had been bought with a price” worked to acquire the skills required for her new life, just as we also should work to acquire the skills needed for our new life. I would imagine the bride-to-be would try to learn as much as she could about this man she was to marry. Perhaps we also should do the same.