Jesus was the bride groom, and the church in which he died for was his bride. Jesus referred to Himself as the Bridegroom when the disciples of John came to Him with a problem. It was their practice to fast and they wanted to know why Jesus and His disciples did not do so. Jesus’ answer was that the wedding guests could not fast so long as the bridegroom was with them. But the days would come when the bridegroom would be taken away, and then they would fast (Matt. 9:14,15 ff; Mk. 2:18-20; Lk. 5:33-35). This relationship of Jesus to His disciples is presented throughout the New Testament. Paul speaks of his aim for the church at Corinth; “I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband” (2 Cor. 11:2). In Eph. 5:22,23, Paul compared the marriage relationship to the relationship which must exist between Christ and the church.
This idea of the bride and the bridegroom is not foreign to the Old Testament. In fact, the idea of Jesus as the bridegroom and the church as the bride is typified in God’s relationship to Israel. Jeremiah, upon hearing the words of God to His people, wrote; “Return, O faithless children, for I am your master (husband)” (Jer. 3:14). Isaiah said, “Your Maker is your husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name” (Isa. 54:5). This is why the nation of Israel may be said to go a-whoring after strange gods (Ex. 34:15) Deut. 31:16; Judges 2:17; 8:27,33). When Israel was disobedient and unfaithful, when she flirted with the worship of other gods, and when she gave her love and loyalty to the false gods, she was guilty of infidelity to the marriage bond which existed between her and Jehovah and which never ought to be broken. It was an act of adultery!
This is why God would divorce is wife Israel and take another bride, that being, the Gentiles. Notice the words of Jeremiah the prophet once again as he prophesied the ending of Israel: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a “husband to them”, says the Lord” (Jer 31:31,32). The apostle Paul in an allegory concerning the two sons of Abraham made it abundantly clear that the Gentiles would become Israel and Israel would become the Gentiles (Gal 4:21-31).
In order for Christ to be married to the Gentiles, he first had to be free from Israel his first wife. She played the harlot, and after many attempts at reconciliation, he divorced her. This is the same reason a man can divorce his wife today “except it be for fornication” (Mt 19:9). Though the Gentiles were vile and more sinful than Israel, she was made available for marriage by the death, burial, and resurrection of her bridegroom, Jesus Christ, upon the cross (Rom 7:2-4 f; 1 Cor 15:3,4). Therefore, in order to become the bride of Jesus, each member of his bride, the church, must be buried with Christ by baptism and raised to walk in the newness of life (Rom 6:3,4).
Jesus became the bridegroom of His church as the gift of the Father and as a voluntary act and choice (Jn 3:16 f; Philip 2:8). He loved the church so much he gave Himself up for it that He might redeem it and purchase it by the shedding of His blood (Acts 20:28). In order for Jesus to become the bridegroom of the church it was necessary for Him to be born in human flesh, even as his bride was in human flesh. Therefore, He took the form of humanity. But even more important, Jesus had to remove all difficulties to the union. These difficulties are summed up in one word: sin! This is what prevented Jesus from becoming the bridegroom. This is the reason Jesus died on the cross. Think about how great the cost of the union to Jesus! “And thus it was written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer . . . .”
Jesus is the kind of bridegroom the church would want to have for its own. He is the Son of the Most High God, of matchless beauty, the rose of Sharon, of boundless riches”. The Father loves the son, and has given all things into his hands” of perfect goodness, and of incomparable faithfulness. This is the character of Christ as the bridegroom of his church. Let us consider this relationship we have to Jesus and walk worthily before Him. Let those who are not members of the church, the bride of Christ, accept the invitation of our Lord in obedience to the gospel. Let those who have committed spiritual adultery, those who have erred from the faith, return to their “first love”, their first husband, Jesus Christ (Rev 2:4). Remember this, when two marry each other it is for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse! And lastly, till death do you part! Therefore, be faithful to your husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, for he cares for you (1 Pet 5:7)! If you do, He has prepared for you a crown and an everlastingly home in heaven with Him (Rev 2:10 ff; Jam 1:12; Tit 1:2).