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What Does It Mean to Be Married to Christ?
The New Testament calls Christ the “bridegroom” and the church his “bride.” To understand what this means can change your life. We need to read this through the lens of first century Jewish marriage. In what follows we’ll highlight six aspects of first century Jewish marriages to see how each sheds light on the New Testament’s understanding of our relationship with God.
Proposal - Culture - Man - Process - Life
The Proposal. In ancient Jewish culture a man initiated the process of getting married by pledging his life to his prospective bride on the condition that she will accept his offer and reciprocate his love and pledge. This is what God does toward us in Christ. Jesus’ incarnation, ministry and death on our behalf is God’s declaration of love toward us. Yet, God doesn’t pledge his life toward us on the condition that we reciprocate. Rather, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8). God makes the ultimate sacrifice up front, in hopes that this will win the heart of his potential bride and she will reciprocate. Christ’s sacrifice is thus God’s invitation to join him at “the marriage supper of the lamb.”
Saying Yes. A marriage is entered into only when the prospective bride accepts the invitation and pledges her life to the groom. It’s true that in many ancient cultures, including ancient Jewish culture, women could be forced to marry men they didn’t want to marry. But coerced marriages are an unfortunate consequence of the world’s oppression and do not reflect God’s ideal. Because love must be freely chosen, God wants a bride who voluntarily pledges her life to him in response to loving sacrifice. We begin to belong to our heavenly bridegroom the moment we genuinely say “yes” to his proposal by pledging to reciprocate his...
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