In Jesus’s days, when a couple got engaged, the groom-to-be would go to the house of his intended bride to request her hand from her family. Once the bride’s father gave his approval, the actual proposal came when the groom presented the bride with a cup from which to drink from. If the bride accepted, she would drink from the cup, then pass it to the groom and he would also drink. They were then engaged. A betrothal in these times was as legally binding as a marriage. Although they were not yet married, the couple had made a covenant to each other which could not easily be broken. The groom would present his new fiancé and her family with gifts. The groom presented these gifts to show how much he valued her: what she was worth to him.
Then there was a period of waiting before the actual wedding. The groom would go home to build a place for himself and his new bride. This period of time could take up to a year or more. They were bound together, though not physically near each other. The groom would tirelessly work, likely thinking of his bride the whole time, until the house met the specifications of his father. Meanwhile, the bride would be anxiously awaiting his return, maybe dealing with doubts. Was he really coming? Did she make the right choice? How long was this going to take? They were together relationally, yet separated physically.
The bride would not know when her groom was coming back, only that he said he would. When the groom’s father approved of the house the groom had built, the wedding party would be sent to collect the bride, there would be a massive feast, and their life together would officially begin. The waiting was over.
Before Jesus was crucified, He sat down with His disciples for one last meal together. But not just any meal: a proposal. The last supper intentionally mirrors a marriage proposal.
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." -Matthew 26: 27-28
The symbolism here would not have been lost on the disciples. Jesus was telling them the price He was willing to pay for them. He was asking them to be His. He was asking them to be bound to Him and to wait for Him. Jesus was saying to them, to us, "I’m going away to prepare a place for you. But I am coming back for you. Don’t forget that you were bought with a price. I am coming back, and then we will be together."
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. -John 14: 2-3
We are together, yet apart. And though frustrating at times, we wait anxiously and joyfully for the day the Groom comes back. We wait for the day where we will be together forever. And what a joyous day that will be.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 17:27
Adapted from Blessed are the Misfits by Brant Hansen