What do I mean by saying Christ is my true home? I’d like to answer this question in the context of marriage. From creation through eternity, the marriage relationship stands apart from all other relationships as the most significant and intimate one of all. (This is why it is an important institution to protect!) There is no other relationship that describes the connection between God and his people throughout the Old and New Testaments like marriage. Recently, I’ve been studying the betrothal customs of biblical times. The insights I have gained have helped me to understand the relationship between Christ (the bridegroom) and those who are called by his name – the church (the bride).
– In biblical times, the father of the bridegroom was the central figure in choosing the bride for his son. This is a difficult notion for Westerners who are accustomed to identifying, “falling in love” and choosing their future spouses. It was the responsibility, the privilege, and honor of the Hebrew father to find a suitable helper for his son.
Similarly, God the Father has done this by choosing his son’s beloved. “He chose us before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:4 God initiates the relationship between Jesus and his bride. This concept would have been easily understood by Jews who recognized that they were a chosen people.
– There was a betrothal ceremony which solidified the covenant between the man and woman a year or two before the actual marriage took place. Although betrothal is often associated with engagement in Western culture, it was far more significant and elaborate in biblical times. During a betrothal ceremony the groom offered a payment for the bride. Christ, our groom, has paid the bridal price for us: his death in exchange for our sinful lives.
– The practice of modern engagement and biblical betrothal have something in common: there is a promise to marry signified by both. However, engagements are less binding. Betrothals carried the legal distinction that the bride now belonged to the groom. Although not yet married and still not living together, she had a new name. Her identity was found in her relationship to the groom. In biblical times, only a divorce would nullify a betrothal.
Today, as the Bride of Christ, believers have a new identity. Believers are forever called by his name and belong to him. Their lives are to be lived for him alone.
– In biblical times, the bridegroom provided a garment for the bride to wear. The groom might furnish fine linen and jewelry for the bride. Those who have been betrothed to Jesus have been purified and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
God gave the apostle John a revelation while in exile on the island of Patmos of the marriage feast between Christ and his bride. “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 (provided for her by the groom) to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.” Revelation 19:7-8 Jesus has provided his bride a garment of purity, righteousness and holiness, fit for the marriage ceremony with the Son of the Most High God.
– It was customary, after the betrothal ceremony, for the bridegroom to return to the father’s house for a year or two to prepare a place for the wedding feast and for the couple to live together as man and wife.
At the Passover dinner in the upper room on the night he was betrayed, Jesus, declared, “If I go prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3 Until I studied the context of biblical betrothal and marriage customs, I never fully understood the significance of this statement. Jesus, as bridegroom, was preparing his disciples for the period of separation until his return.
– During the period of waiting, the bride would prepare for her bridegroom’s return. She knew that he promised to take her to a new home, but she did not know when. She lived in a state of readiness until the day he would return and they would consummate the relationship.
As the Bride of Christ, believers are awaiting the Bridegroom’s return. The Apostle Peter describes the day that the Lord will return in the third chapter of his second epistle: “According to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot of blemish, and at peace.” v. 13-14
Upon Jesus’ return believers will be united together with the Living Lord. Everything in our lives that means home – spouses, families, friends, place, familiarity, comfort, security and fulfillment will, when Christ returns, be consummated in the marriage of the Bridegroom and Bride. All of our longings for intimacy will be satisfied in him. In addition, Jesus will provide a new home, a new heaven and earth to live together.
So what does that mean to those who believe?
1) Recognize that home and longing for home are earthly glimpses of a deeper reality that can only be satisfied in Jesus.
2) Prepare for the day of Jesus’ return by being “diligent to be found by him without spot of blemish, and at peace.”
3) Rejoice that you belong to Jesus through his atoning sacrifice on the cross. You are his bride, you are called by his name, and he will, one day, take you to a place that he is preparing to live together for eternity.