There was a lovely tradition practiced in Jewish communities when Jesus walked the earth.
After a betrothal and before the final vows, a groom returned to his family home and built an addition to his father’s house in preparation for his bride.
The bride made herself ready and then waited because she didn’t know when her groom would return. What began as hopeful anticipation might sometimes have turned to fear if the groom tarried too long in coming.
But no matter how long it might be, she was expected to maintain that state of hopeful expectation. (The Parable of the Ten Virgins: Matthew 25: 1-13)
What a celebration when he finally showed up, whisked her off and the marriage feast began!
This was the image Jesus evoked when He spoke to His disciples at the Last Supper.
They had questions.
(I can identify.)
They were scared.
They wondered where He was going and what they were supposed to do when He left.
(Yes, we have the Bible but there are lots of day-to-day situations that aren’t covered.)
He didn’t leave them (or me!) without hope for their anxious hearts. And he used familiar images to help them hold onto what He was telling them.
“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take.” ~ Jesus to His disciplesJohn 14: 1-4 PHILLIPS
When a groom left his bride, he wasn’t disappearing for good.
He was going away for a little while to make permanent arrangements for their forever home.
Jesus is the great Bridegroom and the church His Bride. Those of us who love Him, follow Him and wait for Him will not be disappointed!
I may cast off this earthly tent through death or in an instant at His return.
Either way, He’s got a place all ready for me.
- Why is waiting so hard?
- Does the cultural background to this passage help you understand it? Why or why not?
- Is it difficult for you to wrap your mind around the idea that maybe instead of (as suggested in popular culture and some churches) our own private mansion, we might well live in community with others in smaller rooms or additions? How might that alter our behavior here and now toward other believers?
- Are you as excited for the Heavenly Wedding and Marriage Supper of the Lamb as you were for your own wedding? Why or why not?
- If you listened to the song above, how does it make you feel?
Father God, I’m just going to admit it-waiting is hard! Especially when I don’t know how long I might have to keep waiting. Help me hold onto hope as I look expectantly toward the future You have for me-not only my beautiful Eternal Home but also the earthly future and good works You have prepared in advance for me to do as long as I may live.
Thank You, Jesus, for loving me so well.
You don’t despise our weakness or our questions. Thank You for leaving us with vibrant images that help us imagine (even a little) of what awaits everyone who loves You in the glorious hereafter when every wrong is made right, everything stolen restored and everything lost, redeemed.
I know, know, know in my bones that You do not lie. You cannot fail. I will not be put to shame because I wait on You.
My Groom is coming to get me!