Marriage in the Mind of Christ
Through the years traditions change when it comes to weddings. When I first started preforming wedding ceremonies, the bride did not rehearse, on the day of the wedding, pictures were taken after so that the groom did not see the bride until she walked down the isle, and Unity Candles were in fashion. Now every bride rehearses, the couple takes pictures before the ceremony, and sand and salt ceremonies replaced unity candles and rose ceremonies. Traditions also differ between cultures and especially what is cultural through the centuries. A First Century Jew would not be familiar with our customs and traditions and we struggle to understand theirs, but we get a glimpse of a typical wedding during Jesus’ time in Matthew 25:1-13.
Here is how a typical wedding would take place:
- The groom would take the initiative and travel to the home his prospective bride.
- The woman’s father would begin negotiations with this prospective groom concerning the price the groom would pay to marry his daughter.
- When they agree on a price, the groom make arrangements to pay.
- Once the bride’s family receives payment the marriage contract (betrothal) is binding, although no physical union takes place.
- This contract sets the bride apart for her betrothed (fiance). They will drink from a cup blessed by prayer, symbolizing their contractual relationship.
- The groom returns to his father’s house separated from his bride for a 12 months.
- During this time period, the bride gathers her belongings and prepares for married life.
- The groom uses this time to prepare a place for his bride in his father’s house (on his land).
- At the end of this twelve month period the friends of the groom escort him at night to the home of the bride.
- The bride expects the arrival of her groom, but does not know the exact time or day.
- One of the escorts would shout to announce the arrival of the groom.
- The groom receives the bride with her female attendants and returns to his father’s house.
- The bride and groom enter the bridal chamber (the room he prepared) and enter into a physical union that consummates the marriage.
When I first came across this material a few things came to my mind. First there is a lot of preparation that goes into this marriage. There is a seriousness to the contract of marriage that I think is missing in our current Western Society. I am not suggesting we have to go to the same lengths that the cultures of the First Century did, but I do think, we need to do what we can to make marriage the special and wonderful relationship that it is supposed to be. The second observation is not related to our physical marriages but to the Church as the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:32).
- Christ left His Father’s home to come to earth to select His Bride (Eph 525-28)
- Christ paid a great price for the Church – His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1Co 6:19-20)
- The Church is set apart (holy, sanctified) for Christ (Eph 5:25-27)
- The Church drinks a cup with the Groom as a symbol of that covenant (1Co 11:25)
- Christ returned to the Father after sealing the agreement (Acts 1:9-11)
- Christ is preparing a place for the Church in His Father’s house (John 14:1-6)
- We are currently separated from Christ in a physical sense (Phil 1:21-23)
- Christ will have escorts when He returns who will announce His return (John 14:3; 1The 4:16-17; 2The 1:7-9)
- The Bride (Church) will go with the Groom (Christ) to His Father’s house to ever be with Him (1The 4:14-18)
- Christ’s union with His Bride (the Church) will take place in heaven for all eternity (Rev 19:7-9; 21:9-10).
- “Marriage.” The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. Isaac Landman (New York:UJE) 1948.
- “Betrothal” The Jewish Encyclopedia, ed. Isidore Singer (New York:Funk and Wagnals) 1907.
- George Eager, “Marriage.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Ed. Jas. Orr (Grand Rapids:Zondervan) 1986
- Emma W. Gill, Home Life in the Bible (Nashville:Broadman Press) 1936
- James Neil, Everyday Life in the Holy Land (New York:Cassell and Company, Ltd.) 1913
- J. Jeremias, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhad Kittle, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, IV (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans) 1967.