“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 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. You know the way to the place where I am going.” - John 14:1-4
There are only a handful of things that I consider myself to have expert-level status in, and “ancient Jewish traditions” is NOT one of them. Wakeboarding...sure. Boat driving...definitely. Ping-Pong...you betcha. I have spent decades participating in these activities, countless hours mastering my craft, and have absorbed huge amounts of knowledge and experience in each of these categories. But this isn’t a blog post about any of those topics. This is a blog post about marriage.
“Marriage???” you say. Yes...marriage. But probably not typical marriage story you are used to. Because today I am going to teach you EVERYTHING I know about the engagement process that would take place between a Jewish man and a Jewish woman during the time period that Jesus was alive. This shouldn’t take long.
Here’s how it would shake down. Back in the day when it was time for a Jewish man to get married his parents would go “girl scouting” for him. Once they find a young woman that belongs to an appropriately equivalent family, they would begin discussing the Marriage Contract and the price of the bride. After this, the groom is brought in to meet the bride and he places a glass of wine in front of her. If she drinks it...she agrees to marry him! YAY!!! Now the fun part, the engagement!
After she agrees to marry him, the young man immediately leaves and returns to his father’s house because Jewish tradition says that he is suppose to build a room attached to his father’s house for he and his bride to live in (the Huppa). This act honors his father, because it adds on to his house and shows that his son is dedicated and hardworking.
Now fellas, I know what you’re thinking...”what is that chick doing while he is off building the house?” Great question...thanks for asking. During this time the bride is preparing herself to be the best wife she can be. She will be valued based on her “usefulness” and her ability to manage and keep a home, so she is learning everything she can about the likes and dislikes of her future husband. And while she does this, she is keeping a tentative ear for the sound of a trumpet (...keep reading).
Once the room is completed to the father’s approval (not the groom’s approval), the father announces to the groom, “Go and get your bride!!!” There are no “Save the Dates”...no iPhone count-downs...nobody knows when this day will be except for the father of the groom, because it is at HIS discretion when the room is finished. So when after the father approves of the room and gives the groom the go-ahead, the groom grabs his family and his buddies and he leads a parade through the streets all the way to the brides house. And when they start getting close, one of his buddies will blow a loud trumpet blast so that the bride and her bridesmaids know that the groom is approaching. She is not startled or frazzled...she is not scrambling to get her things packed...she is ready. She has been preparing for this day and she is confident and ready for her groom’s return. Then the groom leads his bride back the same path that he came and they return to his father’s house where they will consummate the marriage and they will live for a period of time before they move to their own house.
So what does this have to do with John 14? Hopefully you have already picked up on many of the similarities. Jesus is actually proposing to his disciples...He is asking them to marry Him. The relationship that Jesus desires to have with us is much deep than “friend” or “brother” or “sister” or “daughter” or “son”, etc. He calls us his bride! We are betrothed to Jesus and He has left us to prepare a room for us. And despite what billbords on I-35 might tell you, no one knows the day or time when He will return. Only the Father knows. So it is our job to prepare ourselves, to train ourselves to be the best bride that we can be, to be ready for His return, and to eagerly await the sound of the trumpet.
BOOM... Knowledge explosion.