It goes without saying that we are facing a global crisis most have never seen. With supply and food shortages, a virus that is taking thousands of lives, and everyone wearing masks, it has caused many people to wonder, are these the last days?
Our confidence is not built on when Jesus will return, but why. Why, is the question we should be asking. In John 14:1-4, Jesus makes some very distinct comments about His return and answers this question.
In John 14, explains how He is going away, and the disciples are distraught. To comfort them Jesus says, “in my Father’s house, there are many rooms.” This doesn’t that sound very comforting.
“Hey, sorry for how you’re feeling, but my dad is riiiich!”
The Bible was written in a different time period, within a different culture. This illustration serves as a key to our understanding. To get the full meaning of what Jesus is saying, we must get into the mindset of a first-century Galilean.
Jesus and the disciples spent much of their time and Galilee. Galilee had a distinct culture within the Jewish state.
As cultural and times change, the meaning behind what is said is lost. If we apply today’s understanding of yesterday’s words, we may not have an accurate meaning of what is said.
John 14 is full of rich symbolism taken from a traditional Galilean wedding. A Galilean wedding was a big deal. It all began with a betrothal, engagement, ceremony.
As the two stood before the Rabbi with people surrounding, the father of the groom would hand him a pitcher and a cup. The hopeful groom would pour some wine into the cup, and then he would extend it to the bride-to-be.
At this moment, she had full authority to accept or decline the marriage proposal. If she did not extend her hands to take the cup, there would be no engagement.
But if she took the cup from his hands and drank, she was accepting his offer of marriage and a covenant was established. The man would say, “I will not drink this cup until we are in my father’s house.”
At this point, the engaged couple would go their separate ways and not see each other until the day of the wedding. This was not idle time. Each would begin preparing for the wedding.
She would begin searching out and purchasing material to make a dress. Having a wedding dress was important because you had to be ready at any time for your groom to come for you.
The man would return home with his father and begin building a room onto his father’s house. This was a cultural practice different from ours today.
The engagement would last at least 12 months, but sometimes longer. The length of time did not depend on the groom or the bride but the father.
Once the son completed the building, he would go to his father and say, “I’m ready for my bride.” But the timing was up to the father.
As each day passed, the son waited for the father to tap him on the shoulder and say, today is the day. And then on that day, as the father goes to the son, and tap him on the shoulder and say, “it’s time.”
The son would make his way to the bride’s house, blowing a shofar, alerting everyone; today is the day of my marriage.
As the groom arrived at the home of his bride, she would be led to the place where the ceremony would take place. They would have a large banquet to celebrate. In the end, the groom would take his wife to their new home, a room in the father’s house.
These cultural symbols Jesus used were to encourage the disciples of His return.
Let’s connect these cultural symbols to Jesus’ statement to the disciples.
Jesus is leaving His disciples like a groom leaves his betrothed, only to return for her. The church is described as the bride of Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:2.
This imagery has always been a challenge for men to accept, but it’s a symbol to remind us that Jesus WILL return for us.
Just as the groom handed a cup to the bride to establish a covenant, Jesus passed a cup to his disciples at that last supper explaining how this was a new covenant with us and told them He would not drink again with them until the Kingdom of God comes.
Jesus told them how He was going to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, just like the groom. The bride was to prepare for his return at any moment by keeping herself ready and pure.
Only the father knows the time when the groom will go for his bride, and Jesus said only His Father knows the day and time of His return.
Once He returns, and all believers enter heaven, there will be a Marriage supper, as described in Revelation 19:7-10, just like the banquet at the marriage celebration.
And as the bride had the choice to accept the offer of marriage, you are in the position to accept or reject Jesus’ offer of forgiveness from sin and receive eternal life.
Jesus may be gone but He, like the groom, is waiting for the “go” sign to return for His bride, the church!