Scripture often uses things that we already know about in order to help us gain insights into things that we have not yet experienced. Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Heaven is said to have streets of gold and gates of pearl. The church’s/Christians’ relationship with God as being his bride. It is not that we will have a complete husband/wife relationship with Christ in heaven. It does mean that there are parallels with a marital relationship in terms of love, faithfulness, and purity in our relationship with Christ. In Revelation, the consummation of all creation occurs when the church is finally wed to the bridegroom, Christ. In Revelation 19:6-9 John writes,
“6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
9Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
In John 14:1-4, Jesus says he is going to prepare a place for his disciples that they will eventually get to come and be a part of. He says that in his Father’s house there are many rooms (NIV) or plenty or room (TNIV). Jesus may be referring to his patriolocal society in which following marriage the newly married couple often lived near the eldest male relative of the husband’s family. Some households would even have wings of the house for the male children’s families. Jesus is saying that when he leaves the earth and goes back to heaven he will be going to his Father’s house to make preparation for our arrival. It also reminds us that just as their identity was focused on the eldest father, our identity is focused on our heavenly Father. We will dwell with him, in his house.
But something has to happen first. We have to be married to his Son. Because he is holy his bride has to be holy as well. Scripture describes sin as spiritual adultery (Hosea for example). Because all have sinned we have a HUGE problem when it comes time to be united with the groom because we are not spiritual virgins due to our spiritual adultery. When the bride and groom come together to consummate their new marriage it is important that the woman (in a spiritual sense, the church) be found a virgin. If she was not, the shame of that situation would be made known and the penalty was death.
Following the wedding ceremony the husband and wife go to consummate their relationship and the truth is exposed – she is not a virgin! What does Jesus do for his church at that point? He lovingly assures her that her shame will not be exposed and she will indeed not face the death penalty. No one else will find out because he will give the evidence of her virginity by his own blood as a sign of her purity. Through the blood of the bridegroom the sins and prior unfaithfulness of the bride are removed and we are then able to live in relationship with God and Christ forever.
What an amazing thing God has done by forgiving our sins. It was not easy task. It did not come at an easy price. He took our shame, the shame we should have endured by having the truth of our spiritual adultery exposed…he took upon himself. Praise be to God for his mercy and grace! Praise be to God that he was willing to cover our shame and nakedness. Praise God for his faithfulness even when our faithfulness was lacking. Don’t you know how committed a bride who has been through that with her groom would be committed to being faithful to him?
(HT: Kathy Cherry for pointing some of this out to me.)