Yesterday, my church hosted its third annual Passover Seder Meal, where the participants experience this Jewish tradition and are shown its significance to us as Christians. If you have never had a chance to partake of this incredible blessing, let me encourage you to look into it next year as part of Holy Week. It will definitely be a memorable experience that you will carry with you the rest of your earthly journey!
During yesterday’s meal, the narrator shared a little-known story that touched my heart. She was gracious enough to give me her notes so that I could share it here with you, and I am sure that you will find it to be a real blessing too.
During jesus’ time, not a lot of young Jewish men and women did the modern ritual called dating. Instead, the young men made a marriage proposal, quite often to a young lady he did not even know. Sometimes, such events were even prearranged by the couple’s families. When the young man was ready to make a marriage proposal, he went to the home of the bride-to-be with three things: a marriage contract, a dowry or substantial price to be paid for the bride, and some wine. The wine would be poured and set in front of the young woman. If she accepted the young man’s proposal, she would drink from the cup.
At this acceptance, the bride-groom would jump up and proclaim “I go and prepare a place for you!” He would then go back to his father’s house and start on building a bridal chamber. Since only his father could say when the chamber was ready, the son did not ever know when he would be able to return for the bride. However, since the groom had already paid a steep price for the bride, he always went back for her. As no one but the young man’s father knew when the bridal chamber would be acceptable, the young woman was to be always ready. She even lit a lamp at night so she would be ready if he came “like a thief in the night”.
This little Jewish custom is incredibly rich in symbolism and relevance for us today! The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians that Jesus is the bridegroom and we are His bride. Following the same pattern as the Jewish bridegroom, He came from His Father’s house with three things: 1) the marriage contract, embodied in the New Covenant; 2) the dowry, paid in the form of His death on a cross, and; 3) the wine, in the form os His blood shed on Calvary. Then, as he stated in the Gospel of John, Jesus went back to His Father’s house to prepare our dwelling place.
Like the young Jewish bride, we have no idea of when Jesus, our bridegroom, is coming back for us. Jesus and the apostles gave us many stern warnings that must always be ready when He comes back for us. Isn’t it exciting to wait in joyful anticipation for the return of our beloved Bridegroom? Doesn’t this little-known Jewish custom give a whole, fresh new perspective on our journey of waiting for His return? And does this not give us fresh insight into Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins?
Oh, and one more thing. Do you realize that every time you receive the cup of Jesus in Holy Communion, you are once again reaffirming your agreement to be His bride? No wonder He want us to celebrate communion with Him often!
✝ Oh my loving Bridegroom Jesus, thank you for giving me a fresh view of how much You love me! Thank You for counting me worthy to be Your eternal bride! Help me to always remember Your convenant whenever I receive You in communion, and to always keep my lamp of readiness burning brightly! Amen, amen and AMEN! ✝
Ephesians 5:25-30 (NAB)
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
John 14:2-3 (NAB)
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.
Mark 13:32-33 (NAB)
But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 (NAB)
Concerning times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.
Matthew 25:1-13 (NAB)
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.