The Bridegroom is Coming
Jewish marriages in the first century were negotiated by the heads of the two families. The potential groom was expected to go the bride’s home to make the formal proposal of marriage. If she accepted (she could refuse), the couple were officially betrothed and it took a divorce to break it at that point (as in the Mary and Joseph story). Once engaged, the groom-to-be would begin work on an addition onto the family home for his new bride. The wedding could not take place until the work on the new place was completed… and the the fathers decided when the work was done.
When the big day came, the wedding ceremony took place at bride’s house and there was a wedding procession to groom’s house for the wedding feast (as in the Parable of the Virgins). The groom then took his bride into the new room that he had built and the couple consummated the marriage. The wedding feast didn't begin until the new husband and wife rejoined their guests. (And you thought it was awkward standing around waiting for wedding pictures to be over so the reception could begin!)
What does this (too much) information have to do with Easter? Well, the speech that the prospective groom might give as he made his formal proposal of marriage to his prospective bride might sound something like this,
“My Father’s house has many rooms. I am going to prepare a place for you. But I will come back and take you there to be with me.”
Does that sound familiar? That’s Jesus promise in John 14:2. That is Christ’s wedding proposal to His bride. Our faith ultimately rests in this promise that Jesus has gone to His Father’s house to prepare a place for His bride (his church) and that He will one day return to claim to take us where He is. No wonder Paul rests everything on the truthfulness of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19,
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Why are we to be “pitied” if there is no end-time resurrection? Because the church then becomes the bride left at the altar with no groom and no future! The promise that our suffering and struggles in this life can be faced with hope and with expectation because “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18) is false and untrue without the resurrection.
Easter is a reminder that this story that we have committed to is true. Christ the Lord is risen! And one day, the bridegroom will come back for His bride!