Most people like a good party – particularly if there is a reason to celebrate. Graduations, birthdays, weddings, all mark milestones that we like to celebrate, and in most cultures such a celebration involves an abundance of food. In today’s reading John describes a celebration, which he calls “the marriage supper of the Lamb”. This grand feast will celebrate the final union of Christ and His church. All these years on earth the church has been preparing, waiting as a bride to be would wait according to the Jewish wedding tradition.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (v. 7-8)
In a Jewish wedding in the first century, a couple would be engaged at quite a young age, by an agreement made between the two families. From that point the young man would begin to build an addition onto his father’s estate, which would be the dwelling that he would occupy with his new bride after the wedding. Neither the bride nor the groom would know the exact time of the wedding since the time was determined by the father of the groom who would make the announcement when he felt his son had sufficiently completed the room that would be the young couple’s home.
When that day came the groom would gather his companions and lead a procession to his fiancées home where she would be waiting with her bridesmaids. It was her responsibility to be ready at all times because she would not know the exact day that he would arrive. When the day finally arrived there would be a celebration the size of which was determined by the wealth and status of the families. The celebration would often last for up to a week after which the groom would take his new wife home to the place he had prepared for her.
The first century Jewish wedding tradition gives us an earthly picture of what the heavenly celebration will be like when Jesus returns to receive the church as His bride. Given the wealth and status of Jesus Father, (that would be God) I suspect this is going to be one big party that you will not want to miss!