That’s a little weird. As I preached on John 17 last Sunday, I spoke on the biblical notion that the church is the bride of Christ. Some kids listening to the sermon gave some confused faces at this point.
As adults, it’s not any less weird. Maybe more weird because of our understanding (often a broken understanding) of sexuality. But don’t worry, it’s not about sex. Well, it kind of is. Just talking about this makes me feel like a messenger trying to deliver God’s “birds and bees” talk. Hence, I left this part out of our all-age-appropriate sermon on Sunday.
It’s not about sex because there’s nothing biblical that speaks to our relationship with Jesus and God in any physical terms. And if anything, we see Jesus seemingly suggesting we’re all without gender or whatever the angels are like at the resurrection (Matthew 22:29,30). So it seems ridiculous and it is ridiculous to think of it sexually. Though not without mystery over the topic of sexuality.
It is about sex because it is about full oneness. Marriage and sex is the deepest relationship and act of oneness in humanity (described as the Hebrew term for oneness, Echad, in Genesis 2:24). And in some mysterious way, God describes His oneness in the same terms with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being one together (also described as Echad, in Deuteronomy 6:4) . God created marriage and sex, for us, and to give us an idea of oneness in relationships. He also gave it to us for the purpose of multiplying. And when the full number comes in, there won’t be a need for sex and multiplying…we will just be with Jesus…One with Him.
I don’t know what it’ll really be like, but I think it’ll be different and better than sex.
But what about this current wedding engagement we are in with Jesus now? In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus says:
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Be prepared, is the message I take from this. How do we prepare? He says “keep watch.” And I think the verse before helps us know what keeping watch means: Know and be known by God.
It makes sense in this analogy of being the bride of Christ. In any marriage engagement, it would seem very odd to not pursue a relationship with your future spouse. Even in an arranged marriage, there is some preparation within the family towards the coming day, where being known and knowing the other is significant in whatever cultural preparation is deemed to be done. Even if just preparing with oil for the lamps.
Jesus came and died for His bride, the church, and is waiting on her full number before returning, to which we’ll feast at the wedding table with him.
Revelation 19:6-9 says:
6 Then 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.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
If you don’t know Jesus, I’ll just give my opinion from my own story and experience to say that He is worth knowing. He doesn’t give up on His people and He’s never given up on me, even in my own brokenness…always singing a song of being delivered from myself and the darkness around, into relationship with the creator of the Universe. It doesn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense for me for a long time. How can God love me this much to want to join with me (a mess) in such a deep way? Because He really really loves me. He really really loves His bride. He’ll do whatever it takes for her, for us. All we need to do is be in this engagement, together as a church, with Him.
Take hold of the engagement.
Join us some time for a gathering or a meal.