Welcome back to Living As Royalty. Today we are examining our identity as “The Bride of Christ.”
The Church is the Bride of Christ, though you wont find that exact statement anywhere in the Bible. Much like the doctrine of Trinity, this is a belief that draws upon the Truths expressed in the Scripture and words them slightly differently. However, look with me at Revelation 19:7-8,
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. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
The bride has made herself ready, who is this woman? Clearly it is the Church Universal, personified here as a bride getting ready to marry her betrothed. Obviously Jesus is not coming back solely for an individual woman, but for a Church that has made herself ready.
Now the critical thinkers among you will already have some objections forming in your minds. This passage from Revelation is dealing with a future event, the wedding hasn’t happened yet and Jesus still has to return. Good, good, good.
Let’s examine biblical marriage for a moment, for it will illuminate this text most helpfully.
In biblical times, many marriages were arranged by the parents. These marriages involved a contract, and exchange of gifts and a promise – that when the time was right the two would get married. So even though these two people weren’t officially married, they were engaged and unavailable to other suitors. This is all well and good and is mostly similar to life today. However, there is one significant difference and we see this in Matthew 1:18,19,
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
The highlighted portions offer us valuable insight into biblical marriage. First, Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph. This pledge was more than a promise, it was an inevitable reality. Even so, the main difference between engagement and marriage is the consummation of the marriage vows. Mary and Joseph hadn’t been together, they weren’t married. However, Joseph is still called her husband and he would have had to go through a legal proceeding (called divorce) if he wanted to be separated from her.
This is fascinating – Joseph and Mary were engaged, yet Joseph is a husband and they would need to get a divorce if they didn’t want to be together. Even though they haven’t consummated their marriage, Mary still has rights – she is Joseph’s wife. You see, biblically speaking, Joseph and Mary were “married” at their engagement, they were legally bound together. Now there was certainly going to be a greater depth of relationship and intimacy once they were officially married and were able to consummate that marriage, but their engagement was more legally binding that our form is today.
With this is mind, it is completely legitimate to call ourselves the Bride of Christ in the present tense, even though we anticipate a future wedding. And the cool thing about wedding royalty is that is doesn’t matter what station the bride was before her marriage, because as soon as she is married she rises to equal status with her husband. If the husband is a king then she becomes queen, if a prince then she becomes princess.
The application of this Truth to our lives is that we are, right now, married to Christ the King. We have risen to His status and are equally yoked partners with Him in the administration of His Kingdom. On the basis of biblical marriage, I see no reason why we should postpone the realization of our wedding and relegate it to a future Age. We talk about the Age to Come (the Kingdom of God) being present in this Present Evil Age, so why would we not also realize that our wedding, which is part and parcel of the Age to Come, is also present and effectual in this Age?