The Bride of Christ
The Scriptures often employ various words to paint a picture to assist us in seeing God’s beautiful plan. The church is described in various terms: the body of Christ, the ground and pillar of the truth, a spiritual house, the flock of God, God’s field, and a bride. “For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth”(Isaiah 54:5). The prophet appears to be looking forward to the time of the church. God chose to use the word “husband,”revealing the closeness and relationship that He desires for Him and His people. He is the greatest husband of all, the Creator!
In the New Testament, we begin to see this fulfillment of God’s design take form in His Son. John the Baptizer, when describing his role and place in God’s blueprint, calls himself a friend, or the best man, of the bridegroom Jesus. Since Christ is the bridegroom, what would His disciples be?
Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven in terms of marriage. He spoke the parable about a significant king who arranged and prepared a sumptuous wedding feast for His Son. Those who were invited to the wedding feast made light of it, therefore the king had his servants invite whosoever would come to share in this joyous occasion (see Matthew 22:1-14). On another occasion, Jesus spoke of the ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five were prepared, and five were not. But what were they waiting for? For the bridegroom to come and the wedding to take place (Matthew 25:1-13).
While Jesus was on the earth, He did not physically marry. However, the Scriptures teach us that everything He did while He was here was to purchase His bride’s freedom from sin and to prepare her for the great and wonderful marriage in heaven! Paul, speaking about husbands and wives, gives the Savior as the ultimate example for husbands to follow:
“…just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish”(Ephesians 5:25-27).
After this, in verse 32Paul says he was talking about Christ and His church. Again, the husband and wife relationship is used to describe the Lord and His people, the church.
Paul speaking to the church in Corinth:“For I am jealous for you with godly jealously. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”(2 Corinthians 11:2). Paul was concerned for the church. Betrothal would be similar to our engagement, but stronger – breaking it would require divorce. It was as if the marriage had already taken place: the bridegroom and bride had made their life-long commitment to one another, but the consummation with intimacy had not taken place yet. Paul says this is how the Lord looks upon those who have entered into the New Covenant relationship through the gospel of Christ. The Lord looks upon Christians as spoken for, as His, and He will complete the marriage when He returns.
The scene of Revelation chapter 19is at the throne of God in heaven (19:4). As Jesus said in Matthew 22, the marriage of the Lamb, the Son of God, has come.
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God”(Revelation 19:7-9).
The Lamb is Jesus Christ (John 1:29; Revelation 5:6-9). His bride is the glorious church, whom He washed, cleansed, and sanctified for Himself. Notice what the Lamb’s bride is dressed in? This dress begins with our wedding garment of Christ Himself—putting Him on in obedient faith (Matthew 22:11; Acts 2:38). “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”(Galatians 3:27). Christians are making our own wedding dresses. The righteous acts of the Saints compose the bride’s wedding dress. What will our wedding garments look like? What do they look like? The Church (you and I) must prepare for this great and wonderful event. The Lord will not accept a bride who is not purified and fit.
Back in Matthew 22the Great King invited all peoples to come to His wedding feast for His Son. The king, walking among His guests, found a man who was not wearing a wedding garment. It was custom for the host to present his guests with robes of honor. The fact that this man did not have a wedding garment was proof that he had no right to be there (verse 11). The man was speechless, no excuses, he knew he was supposed to have a wedding garment. Praise God, the Great King, who has graciously offered us a wedding garment of righteousness through the blood of Christ, so that we can take part in the wedding of the lamb (Isaiah 61:10). “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”(Galatians 3:27).
Have you submitted to the will of God and put on Christ, by faith, in baptism? May we be found like the five faithful virgins, who kept their lights burning bright while they waited for the bridegroom to come; be ready, that we may enter in with Him to that great wedding!