If someone asked you what the Bible says about weddings, what would you say? The truth is, at first glance there's not much there. But when I was writing A Christ-Centered Wedding (co-written with my mom, Linda Strode), I researched ancient Jewish wedding customs. I wanted to understand why weddings today are the way they are, and what they were like in biblical times. So I did some digging around, and I was amazed by what I found.
No matter how you've been treated by men here in earthly relationships, there is a Groom who will never leave you nor forsake you.
When we read the Bible, we do not actually see many obvious references to weddings. We know God brought Eve to Adam and she was called his wife. We see various mentions of "bride" and "bridegroom" and understand the bride would wait for her groom to come for her. We see a great feast in John 2 at the wedding at Cana, and Jesus refers to weddings in some of His parables.
But we are never given a full picture of what a wedding might look like.
The Wedding Metaphor
Because we lack the understanding of an ancient Jewish audience, we miss out on some beautiful aspects of the wedding metaphor in the New Testament. In various places in the Old Testament, Israel is referred to as God's bride. But in the New Testament, we see a fuller picture of this as the Church (those who trust Christ for salvation) is seen as the bride of Christ. But it's not just in obvious references, such as Revelation 19. We also see reflections of wedding imagery in the New Testament in these ways:
- God Chose the Bride
In biblical times the groom's father chose a bride for his son. Similarly, God chose a bride for His Son and a people for His own possession (Eph. 1:3–5).
- The Bride Price
The groom's father would pay a "bride price" to, in essence, buy a bride for his son. The bride of Christ was "bought with a price"—the price of our Bridegroom's life (1 Cor. 6:20, Acts 20:28).
The betrothal was a binding agreement—in essence, a marriage not yet consummated. Christians are betrothed to Christ, as Paul writes to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:2).
The groom would return to his father's home in order to build an addition in which his bride and he would live. Jesus told His disciples He was going to His Father's house to prepare a place for them, and us! (John 14:2).
- The Groom Returns
The groom waited for the day when his father would approve his preparations and give him permission to go and take his bride home for the wedding feast. Jesus said He will come again and take us to Himself, to be with Him in the place He has prepared for us (John 14:3).
Also, just as the groom didn't know when the father would allow him to return for his bride, only the Father knows the day and the hour when Christ will return for us (Matt. 24:36; Matt. 25:1–13).
- The Wedding Feast
The wedding feast was the culmination of a long waiting period. The bride and groom finally came together in a time of celebration and consummation. The feast itself would last for up to seven days as family and friends joined in the revelry, celebrating the union (John 2:1–11).
Revelation 19 depicts the Marriage Feast of the Lamb—the culmination of our union with Christ, when the bride of Christ (the Church) will come together with our Bridegroom at last, dressed in robes of His righteousness and the righteous deeds He gave us to do. In Revelation 19:6–9 John recorded his vision of this day:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."
Oh, How He Loves Us!
As I studied these passages and became aware of the wedding imagery in the New Testament, my understanding of Jesus Christ's love for me was deepened. I was led to worship from my kitchen table, writing of the beauty and immense privilege of being the bride of Christ! How incredible is the Father's mercy, to take a sinful woman like me and clothe me in His Son's righteousness—to call me the blood-bought bride of the Lamb?
Send Out the Invitations
This newfound knowledge also spurred me on to invite others to this marriage feast. This is not an exclusive relationship—whoever trusts in Christ alone through grace alone will one day come together as the bride of Christ. So I want to share this amazing love with others.
No matter how you've been treated by men here in earthly relationships, there is a Groom who will never leave you nor forsake you. He knows you intimately, and isn't disgusted by you. May this truth encourage all of our hearts today, and may it power our efforts to proclaim His love to the nations!
How does the Bible's reference to believers as the "bride" of Jesus Christ encourage you to believe the depths of His love for you?