A WEDDING AND A FUNERAL
A couple weeks ago I attended a wedding and a funeral all within 24 hours. I was so struck by the similarities of both! Yes, I could find many common threads between these two momentous occasions. First, they were both Christian affairs. God glorifying and uplifting! They were both in a church and guest were invited and a meal was served. There was also a pastor and music. There were both laughter and tears and speeches and prayers. A wedding and a funeral have much more in common than we think! Jesus himself talked about the connection between a wedding and going into glory the night before He was crucified. It’s an amazing connection and one worth sharing!
Let’s set the scene… It is night in the ancient city of Jerusalem about 30-33 AD. The month is Nisan, or early April and the great Jewish feast, The Passover, is taking place. The city is teaming to capacity with good, orthodox Jews who have come from all over Israel are fulfilling their duties to the LORD by keeping this most holy feast.
By now, Jesus is a rock star! Everyone knows who He is… or at least has an opinion about who He is. He is a Rabi, or teacher, for sure with an air of authority and a deep knowledge of the things of God. So perfect are His teachings and so radical. Israel has not seen anything like Him before. Some call Him the Messiah, a Hebrew word for the Annointed One or the Savior. Others call Him demon possessed. But one thing for sure, He has caused controversy to the point of conflict because of His teachings.
Ever since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead just shy of a week before, the Pharisees, the Jewish religious rulers, have been seeking to put Him to death. Causing a stir during the Passover would surely bring the Roman government down upon the Jews to crush them. They could not take a chance on any unrest. There had been enough to make all of Israel a tinder box. Sacrificing one Jew for social rest would be worth it!
If the Pharisees could get rid of Jesus maybe there would be no uprisings and the Pax Romana of the day could continue its delicate high wire balancing act. Any commotion could be the tipping point to throw all of Jerusalem into riots and into the direct line of Roman spears!
So, on the night of Unleavened Bread, the day before the great Passover Feast, Jesus is in an upper room in the ancient city celebrating the meal, the ceremony of Unleavened Bread, with His disciples and friends and probably a few members of His family. This is the night of the last supper of Jesus!
It was also before this meal that Jesus, the Great Raboni (teacher), wraps a towel around His waist and washes the feet of His disciples. A great lesson for His disciples that they will remember and act out in their own lives as they make disciples themselves!
It is after the meal that Jesus tells His disciples that He will be leaving them and where we pick up the story. Can you imagine their fear! This is not the first time Jesus had been preparing His close friends for His death, but they did not understand. Now, they do… He was leaving them!
Not a good time to be leaving Jesus, they must have thought in their shock and panic! They were hunted men, dead men walking because they had such a strong affiliation with Jesus. They had put all their eggs in the “Jesus-IS-the-Messiah-basket”. How could He leave them NOW? (It would not be until Jesus’ resurrection that they started to understand all Jesus had told them and not until Pentecost that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit who would guide them in all truth about Jesus.)
That’s a big set up, but we need to see and hear and smell and taste and feel and sense the time in which Jesus would say…
‘LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED; BELIEVE IN GOD, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME. IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE ARE MANY DWELLING PLACES, IF IT WERE NOT SO I WOULD HAVE NOT TOLD YOU; FOR I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU. AND IF (TRANSLATED, KNOW FOR SURE I WILL DO THIS) I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF SO THAT WHERE I AM YOU WILL BE ALSO.’ Matthew 14: 1-3
These beautiful passages are so full of imagery and promise and Jewish meaning. Let’s break it down in 21st century western speak!
An ancient Jew would get this imagery… the imagery of a marriage. Yes, Jesus used the picture of a Jewish wedding, something that His disciples would well understand to show them that He was not abandoning them and that they would eternally be with Him.
Let’s look at one more gorgeous passage. Jesus and His disciples just days before the supper in the upper room had been sitting on the Mount of Olives and they had asked Jesus when the end of the age would come. Jesus replied…
‘BUT OF THAT DAY AND HOUR NO ONE KNOWS, NOT EVEN THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN NOR THE SON, BUT THE FATHER ALONE. Matthew 24:36.
Now, let me tell you about an ancient 1st century Jewish wedding in the light of the scripture we have read!
A Jewish man and woman were betrothed by contract far before they went through a wedding ceremony or their wedding vows were consummated! The wedding contract was drawn up between the groom and the bride’s father. The father of the bride and the groom would negotiate a price to be paid for the groom’s wife. (WE WERE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE, 1 Cor 6:20)
Then the groom would leave his wife (IF I GO, Matt 14:2) in the home of her parents and go away to his home and prepare a place or a room or a portion of a house for her (I WILL PREPARE A PACE FOR YOU SO THAT WHERE I AM YOU MAY BE ALSO). The bride always went to the home of the groom to live.
The bride and her groom were separate during this time of preparation, the bride gathering her trousseau and remaining ever ready. (Matthew 25:1-13 teaches this in parable form about the kingdom of God and that we should always be ready like a virgin bride!).
The groom, at His father’s house was preparing a place for His new bride under the supervising eye of the father. Only the father could tell the groom when He could go back and get this betrothed. No one knew but the Father when this time would be! The groom would work and work and the Father would oversee it all. Then one day the Father would inspect the work and consider it DONE!!!! (Do you catch the beautiful scriptural overtones… it is DONE!)
It was now time for the groom to rightfully claim his bride. This usually happened at night. He, along with his groomsmen, would lead a torch lit procession to the home of the bride. Remember that the bride had no idea when her groom would be coming and her only job was to be ready! As the procession got closer, a groomsman would give a loud shout to alert the bride of the groom’s coming (FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN WITH A SHOUT, WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL AND THE TRUMP OF GOD… 1 Thes 4:16-18).
The groom does not enter into the house of the bride. The bride comes outside of her home to meet her groom (AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST TO MEET HIM IN THE AIR SO WE WILL EVER BE WITH THE LORD 1 Thes 4:18).
Once the bride meets the groom outside her home she goes with him to his home which is now her new home.
When they reach the groom’s home a wedding ensues, they spend time together and consummate the marriage and have a private time together which includes supper. This time of intimate seclusion could go on for days! They are attended to by their bridemaids and groom’s men (‘LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM, FOR THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB AS COME AND HIS BRIDE HAS MADE HERSELF READY’. Rev 14:7). There would be a great party and feasting and rejoicing that also went on for days for all invited to the wedding.
Jesus on the night he was betrayed, painted a beautiful word picture for His disciples of why He had to go away and that He for certain would return for them so that they would be with Him forever!
This God-breathed story full of imagery and truth is for all of us. For when we believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to this earth to set us free from the power and bondage of our sins and we accept His free gift of grace… His death in place of our for our sins… and bend our knee to Him in submission, then we are partakers in this story too!
WE are the bride. And not even death can separate us from the Groom, the Lover of our souls, the Savior of the whole world, JESUS! Death is the beginning of an eternal life with our Lord! And the beginning of a life so close to Him that only a marriage could describe it! HALLELUJAH!!!!
Are you ready?
God has truly blessed you with a great gift.
Your Sunday Scripture is always inspiring,
I know that many of your followers would love to have you put
together a book that we could use in our daily life
I’ll be glad to help you if you decide to take on this project.
Have a blessed week
Beautiful! Such hopeful words. I thank my God that I gave so much to look forward to and know that my groom will keep His promise to come and get me.
Our hope of Glory.
Yvonne, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard this explained more beautifully!
I get excited each day to see what wonderful ideas await! God bless you and yours!:)
Thank you and Bless YOU. Keep up the good work we all need to be reminded of what is to come!
I Am Ready
You really have a wonderful gift for putting into plain, understandable terms the words we want to read but have trouble deciphering! Thank you so much!
Wonderful post! You tied it all together so beautifully. Blessings, Janet
Yvonne, Thank you!! very beautiful!!! my reason for saying that is in our family we had 8 siblings. 5 sisters and 3 brothers. little did we know on Wednesday evening one of our younger brother had prepared himself and ready to meet his groom. my heart is sadden because our chain has a broken link now, but one day we realize that the chain which has now been broken will link back together again. we must be ready because this is not our home we are just a vapor passing through. Thank you so much for such inspiring words. God Bless each of us.
This was so beautiful and such a perfect and clear understanding of this passage. How awesome to be able to wake up Sunday morning and read these words. Yes I’m ready. Praising God today and thanking Him for you and your willingness to reach God’s word so faithfully. May God continue to bless you as you share His word and all the gifts He has given you.
I am ready!
Yvonne, thank you for sharing this amazing word picture with us. Before today I had never heard the parallels of the Jewish wedding and the second coming explained like this.
Thank you for not only sharing your beautiful home with us but for also sharing the love of Christ and His story of redemption to a lost and dieing World.
Have a blessed day.
Beautifully said……..what a wonderful way to present this to us.
Thank you for this wonderful Sunday post! Amen! I am ready. Thank you, sweet Jesus!
Thank you so much for this beautiful message. Each week you are truly led by the Spirit. Thank you again and have a blessed Sunday.
Yvonne, you truly were given a talent for explanation. You make the hard to understand so visual and so clear that it brings chills to my soul. That, of course, is one of your many talents. I so look forward to Sunday’s when I can get inspired again by your post. I also like the idea of a small devotional book. Thank you.
Such a beautiful message of the hope we have in Jesus. Thank you for sharing.
I am ready!
Thank you, Yvonne, for devoting your Sunday blog to the word of God. Putting scripture in terms we can all understand is a gift and you definitely have “the gift”.
Praise be to God! I am ready.
Yvonne, If I can only read one blog that day, it is yours. Yours is my favorite. So, I have read a lot of your posts. This one maybe my favorite. Thank you!
THANKS so much Cindy!
Beautiful, just beautiful. And yes, I’m ready!
Amen Sister !!! We are ready !!!
My Lord and my Life!
Refreshed my spirit. Beautiful.
Oh, Yvonne! This is my favorite thing! When I became ill and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2000, a few months later the Lord called me to write for Him. He led me to write a book on this very topic. Unfortunately, it now sits on the shelf awaiting publication. (long story) Such a wealth of personal application and most of it is missed. I’m so glad you posted this. Beautiful! 😀
Hope you are doing well, Lynn!
Thank you so much, Yvonne! 😀
AMEN!!!! AMEN!!!!! Thank you for your Sunday Blog, Yvonne. Let’s tell all the people how great our FATHER is and about JESUS….
Thank you for this beautiful word. It opened that scripture for me.
I am so so happy for that, Ann-Marie! But it was not me… it was the Holy Spirit!
I love your Sunday posts too and really think you should compile them into a book!
Amen!, Well said, thank you for being a awesome witness.
Hope you have a Blessed day
Yvonne thank you for this! It really puts yjjngs into perspective. I am reminded of a day in April 2 years past
That morning I gathered with friends and family to say goodbye yo my Mother-in-law and that evening in another church to celebrate my niece’s marriage. I will always connect those with this set of scripture now! Such a great picture. Thank you..
Thank you for this beautiful Sunday gift!
Thanks once again Yvonne, for a wonderful post. I have never heard it explained the way you have done it here about his comimg
and the Jewish wedding……….Wonderful! Your are truly a gifted teacher and writer………..
I am ready, I am ready indeed!!
May God continue to Bless You in Amazing Ways,
Thank your for such a special post…how can I thank your for your encouraging word? Sending many blessings your way!
Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, oh what a fore taste of glory divine!!!! What a Savior!!! What a LOVE!!! Thank you so much my sweet sister for sharing this today. We all need a reminder that we cannot even imagine what He has prepared for those that belong to Him. I am so thankful that I can call Him My Lord and My God. While you and I may never meet this side of glory, I look forward to spending an eternity worshipping Him with you :)!
I attended a wedding once where the whole theme was the marriage supper of the lamb. It was inspirational and you have so clearly explained it. I agree with the others that you really have been gifted. The Christian emphasis in your newsletter is a real treat.
Thank you for your words of encouragement
Was this filmed in downtown Lansing, MI?
I don’t know. You might want to look that up on Google.