“Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom: but the friend of the Bridegroom, which stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.” - John 3:28,29
This passage of scripture is the testimony of John the Baptist regarding his ministry. John clearly declared to the people that he was not the Christ that was prophesied, but rather he was the forerunner to announce His coming. In John’s testimony he uses an illustration drawn from the Hebrew marriage celebration. John calls Christ the “Bridegroom,” himself “the friend of the Bridegroom” while other scriptures call the Church “the bride” (Eph. 5:25-33; Rev. 21:9,10; 22:17).
This relationship is used many times in the New Testament. For example, in Mark chapter two people believed that fasting was a required ritual for holiness. So they questioned Jesus about why His disciples do not fast like the disciples of other leaders. When the Lord Jesus answered them He used the Bridegroom illustration as a rebuke. In His rebuke, the Lord Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to that of a wedding feast and so He taught that required religious rituals had no place in the Kingdom of God.
Understand that fasting is a biblical practice that comes personally from the heart of a believer so as to get closer to God, but it is never a requirement of the New Testament.
Religion teaches external ceremonies and obedience to rituals, while Jesus preached a transformed heart and offered a personal relationship. Therefore Jesus insisted that fasting was not suitable for His disciples as long as He, the Bridegroom, was with them.
Fasting was many times related to mourning and grief, but you don’t fast at a wedding. You don’t fast at a celebration because there is food, drink, sweets, and joyful music. Therefore while Jesus, the Bridegroom, was with them bringing the gospel of grace and the forgiveness of sin. It was a time of celebration and rejoicing.
This marriage-feast illustration, shows a matchless distinctive about the glory of the Kingdom of God and how the Bridegroom in the Kingdom of God is incompatible with required religious rituals. Sadly many people get accustomed to and caught up with religious rituals rather that the Person of Christ – the Bridegroom.
I want you to take notice that the marriage illustration is absolutely unique to Christianity. No other religion of the world has their god as their savior, but more amazingly only Christianity speaks of their relationship to God their Savior as like that of a marriage relationship.
This (Bridegroom – bride) relationship between Christ and His Church denotes the intimacy of their relationship, the tenderness of their union, and the great love that the Bridegroom has for His bride.
David C. Hale, Pastor Email: email@example.com