This past January, my daughter and her fiance became engaged and began planning their August wedding. She was surprised that her fiance (an introvert) wanted thirteen groomsmen. They settled on nine attendants each – which was more than my daughter (an extrovert) had anticipated. This brings up a question. Do men dream about their weddings? Apparently so.
When you read the following part of Jesus’ farewell discourse found in John, chapters 14-17, tune your heart to hear Jesus laying out his wedding plans.
“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too. And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4 NET
His language evokes classic, first century, Jewish betrothal (engagement and marriage) customs. Here’s the full article regarding the above passage. This portion is most relevant:
…the groom would return to his father’s house after the betrothal to prepare a bridal chamber. This process traditionally took a year or more (the length of time being dictated by the groom’s father). When the place was complete, the groom would return and fetch his bride. The bride would not know the day or hour of her husband-to-be’s return, so the groom’s arrival was usually announced with a trumpet call and a shout so the bride had some forewarning.
Go to Matthew 24:29-44 to find more wedding language (with the trumpet call included), and notice this nugget about the groom’s (Jesus’) Father in Heaven:
“But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven—except the Father alone.” Matthew 24:36
As the Bride of Christ, we find ourselves in a lengthy (to us) period of waiting. But we are not in a vacuum of waiting. It’s our preparation season. While we wait, we anticipate the most intense level of his glorious presence – the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Because the Father is the sole determiner of the time, Jesus has sent his Holy Spirit to show us how to prepare for The Big Day.
Then I heard what sounded like the voice of a vast throng, like the roar of many waters and like loud crashes of thunder. They were shouting:
For the Lord our God, the All-Powerful, reigns!
Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory,
because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen”
(for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).
Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:6-9 NET
Read Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins, to more fully understand how actively we must prepare for the day we meet Jesus face to face.
Applications: Do you have friends who grew up and married in a different culture with ancient marriage traditions? Ask them about their engagement period and marriage ceremony. If you don’t have such friends, search the internet for still existing engagement and marriage traditions in empire cultures such as India, Turkey, and Iran. Be especially aware of preparation requirements for the bride. Alternatively, contemplate meeting Jesus face to face with Sandi Patty’s version of We Shall Behold Him.