The marriage customs of Jesus’ time are sometimes used in the Bible to represent the relationship between Jesus and his people. Three important passages concern the second coming of Christ and illustrate life lessons for followers of Jesus.
Matthew 22:1–14 speaks of people invited to a wedding feast. Matthew 25:1–13 is a parable about being prepared the meet the bridegroom (Christ) when he comes. In 2 Corinthians 11:1–3, Paul uses an analogy of the church in Corinth as being “pure virgins engaged to Christ.” In a different context, Paul compares the marriage relationship to that of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22–32).
If we want to be followers of Christ, we need to understand that “the Way” of Christ (John 14:6; Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22) involves a change of our relationship to sin.
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
There are few, if any, more significant pictures of the relationship between God and the people of God than that of marriage. The Old Testament prophet Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer, illustrate God’s relationship with the nations of Israel and Judah. God loved his people so much he was willing to forgive them for their unfaithfulness if they would repent and return to him.
As the passages noted at the beginning of this brief discussion insist, the church, which is the bride of Christ, must be prepared for his coming. One of the most important passages to consider is the beautiful vision given to John of the marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6–9). John heard a loud voice, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
Did you catch what John heard about the bridal clothing of the bride of Christ, the church? It will be our righteous — that is, right or good — deeds done in this life. What we are doing now will determine whether we will have anything to wear then (Matthew 22:11–14).
In Revelation 3:4–5, Jesus told the church of Christ at Sardis that, even though some of them were unfaithful, “yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”
Every child of God needs to consider every day how he or she is preparing for the coming of the bridegroom. What will you wear to the wedding?