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Christian Living

Go and Prepare a Place

How Engagement and Marriage Worked in the New Testament

In Bible times, when a couple became engaged, the groom-to-be with go home and prepare a place for them to live by adding a room to his parents’ house. As soon as he finished the construction, he would go to his fiancée, the marriage ceremony would take place, and they’d go live in the room he built for the two of them.

Though the Bible doesn’t detail this practice, history does. I’d heard this before, so it was nothing new to me to hear it again in the minister’s sermon.

Joseph and Mary

The message was about Joseph and Mary in the book of Matthew (Matthew 1:18-25). At this point in the narrative, Joseph and Mary are engaged. This means Joseph is building a room for them, adding on to his parents’ house. Once the room is complete, they’ll marry and begin their life has husband and wife.

This is the point at which the Virgin Mary becomes pregnant under Holy Spirit power. Joseph doesn’t break their engagement, and he continues building their home. Once it’s done, they get married. But they don’t consummate their marriage until after Jesus is born.

This explanation helps us better understand the story of Joseph and Mary. But then my mind took off and found other situations where the practice applies as well:

Peter and His Wife

It’s always bothered me that Peter, a married man, would leave his wife alone while he traveled with Jesus. How could she provide for herself while he was gone?

But realizing this ancient practice—where a young married couple would live in a room attached to the house of the man’s family—gave me a better understanding. Yes, Peter’s wife would stay home as he travelled with Jesus, but she wasn’t by herself. She was with her in laws, since the room she lived in was attached to their house.

She wasn’t alone when her husband traveled. She was with family. Knowing this lessens my concerns over Peter’s wife.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

In Jesus’s parable of the ten virgins, these young ladies wait for a wedding ceremony to take place, but they don’t know when it will be. Though this seems strange to us now, it makes sense when we understand the custom of the day.

Their friend is engaged. Her wedding will take place once her fiancé completes the room for them to live in. Since no one knows for sure when this will happen, the wedding ceremony guests wait in expectation.

We can imagine the groom working late into the evening putting the last touches on the room. He finishes at last and in eager expectation he goes to get his bride-to-be, even though it’s the middle of the night.

The virgins hear he’s on his way. Five of them are ready to join the happy couple in their wedding feast and marriage celebration. The other five aren’t ready, and they’re left out (Matthew 25:1-13).

The lesson here is to be ready for Jesus to return. This leads us to the next observation.

Jesus and His Church

Jesus tells his followers that his father lives in a big house. He’s going there to prepare a place for them, to build a room for them to live. Once he completes the construction, he’ll come back to get them. Then he’ll take them to live with him so they can be where he is (John 14:2-3).

Though this may perplex modern day readers, two thousand years ago, the inference made sense to Jesus’s audience. They saw it as an allusion to marriage, to a spiritual wedding.

Jesus will build a bridal suite for his church. When it’s complete, we—collectively as his church—will marry him (Revelation 21:1-4). We will be the bride of Christ.

One day Jesus will come back to earth to get us. Then our wedding ceremony with him will take place, and we’ll live with him forever.

But right now, he has gone to prepare a place for us. And we wait for him to come back. We must be ready, for he could return at any moment—even in the middle of the night.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Can We Be Children of God if Jesus is the Only Son of God?

Discover How God Can Have One Son and Have Many Sons (and Daughters) Too

The Bible calls Jesus the Son of God. We see this in forty New Testament verses from speakers ranging from his disciples to his detractors, including evil spirits and even Satan.

Saying that Jesus is the Son of God suggests there’s only one Son. Indeed, other verses—such as John 3:16—call him God’s one and only Son.

This means that God is Jesus’s father, and Jesus is his only Son.

But if Jesus is the only Son of God, why does the Bible also call us sons and daughters (children) of God? If we receive him (John 1:12), are led by his Spirit (Romans 8:14), and have faith (Galatians 3:26), then we become children of God.

As his children, is that why we pray to him as “Our Father” (see Matthew 6:9) or should only Jesus get to do that?

The Bible is not contradicting itself. Jesus can be the one and only Son of God and at the same time, we can also be sons and daughters of God. Here are two ways to understand this.

The Bride of Christ

Jesus talks often about the groom (bridegroom) and his bride, implying that he is the groom and his followers are his bride. John the Baptist testified that he came to pave the way for the Messiah: Jesus, the bridegroom. The bride belongs to the groom (John 3:27-29).

The apostle John reinforces this in his epic vision that includes a future wedding of bridegroom and bride. Jesus is the Lamb, and we are his bride.

As the bride of Christ, we become God’s children through marriage. God has one Son, and through our marriage to his Son, we, too, become the children of God.

However, this idea of being spiritually married to Jesus is hard for many people to accept, especially men. Fortunately, there’s another analogy that’s easier to grasp.

Through Adoption

Another illustration of our relationship with Father God is adoption.

Paul writes that by receiving God’s spirit we’re adopted into God’s family, becoming his sons and daughters. Through God’s spirit, we can then call him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). Being adopted as his sons and daughters was God’s plan from the beginning (Ephesians 1:4-6).

Adoption is a beautiful image. As adopted children, God selects us; we’re chosen. The act is intentional. Through adoption we then become God’s heirs, co-heirs with Jesus (Romans 4:14). As heirs, we receive eternal life from him (Titus 3:7).

As God’s children we are heirs of all he has. This includes the gift of spending eternity with him. Click To Tweet

We Are Children of God

Through our spiritual marriage to Jesus, we become children of God. Through our spiritual adoption into his family, we also become children of God. As God’s children we are heirs of all he has. This includes the gift of spending eternity with him.

Praise Father God.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Wife of Jesus

Celebrating the Bride of Christ

Did Jesus have a wife?

The answer is “Yes!” Most assuredly, Jesus had a wife.

However, before you accuse me of heresy, let me admit this is a misleading question, a twist of semantics

Yes, Jesus did have a wife and does have a wife—not a physical, literal wife, but a figurative, spiritual one. All those who follow him (his church) are his bride; he is our bridegroom. Effectively that makes us Jesus’ wife.

While being the wife of Jesus is an awkward—even uncomfortable—metaphor, being the bride of Christ is more familiar. It’s in the Bible.

Consider the implications.

According to ancient practice, a man seeking to marry would provide a dowry for his bride. What dowry did Jesus give?

Our best response is to love him back and be a faithful wife. Click To Tweet

Jesus offered the ultimate dowry: his life. He died so we wouldn’t have to. He gave his life as a dowry so we could live—live with him forever.

John said the greatest expression of love is to die for someone else. This ultimate dowry of Jesus shows his vast love for us.

The dowry Jesus offered is too great for me to comprehend. It’s the greatest expression of love.

Given the immensity of his dowry and his love, our best response is to love him back and be a faithful wife.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

A Love Story: Life Sustaining Water

In a love story, culturally distant and a bit strange to us, Jacob is enamored by the fetching Rachel. In an act of service, to garner her attention, he rolls away a stone from the mouth of a well to provide life-sustaining water for her sheep. It works and she becomes his bride.

In another love story, also culturally distant and a bit strange, Jesus, in an act of service sacrifices himself for those he loves.

Three days later Jesus is resurrected and an angel rolls away the stone that sealed his tomb, effectively providing living water for his sheep; that would be us. It works and symbolically we become his bride.

The water is provided as an act of love. We drink the water to accept the love.

[Genesis 29:10, Matthew 28:2, and Mark 16:1-6]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

God as our Groom

God as our Groom

The final word picture to help us better understand God, is perhaps the most startling and difficult to comprehend, even shocking.

In this word picture, we consider him as the groom (the Bible often uses the word “bridegroom”) and us as his bride. As followers of Jesus, that is, the Christ, we are even called “the bride of Christ.”

With us betrothed to him, we see a relationship filled with spiritual intimacy and ecstasy. In short, we are lovers. This may be a difficult image to comprehend or even consider, but it is the desire and longing of God to be in a close, personal relationship with us.

How awesome is that?

[See Isaiah 62:5, Jeremiah 2:2, Revelation 19:7, 2 Corinthians, and Revelation 22:17.]


Read more in Peter’s devotional Bible study, A New Heaven and a New Earth: 40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.