Is it literal or symbolic? Who is the bride of Christ are what is the bride of Christ? Many are confused about this identity that has come down from generation to generation. Though this exact phraseology, “the bride of Christ”, is not found in the Bible, it is no doubt there and can be experienced and understood by those who desire a deeper relationship with God.
To the church at Corinth Paul writes and exhorts them to hold fast the simplicity of Christ least they be deceived and led astray by Satan from their devotion to Jesus. Reminding them that he had delivered firsthand a message from Jesus of His marriage proposal to them saying, “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (2 Cor 11:2 NASU). The message Paul preached to them was a marriage proposal of Christ to them. They were the bride of Christ. This is true to all who partake of the cup and the bread. At Mount Sinai, God proposed to the Israelites and entered into a covenant with them. This covenant was a marriage contract which was sealed with the sprinkling of blood. Hence, each marriage between a man and a woman should be sealed with blood through the consummation of the marriage as a witness and testimony of the covenant God makes with us. In Jeremiah 31:31, God declared that His covenant was a marriage contract at Mount Sinai saying, “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, declares the LORD” (NIV).
Why make another covenant? Because the first covenant was of the letter and the letter kills but the new covenant is of the Spirit and the Spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6). This new covenant is another marriage contract that will not be broken. It was sealed with the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary! Before Jesus was crucified, He gathered His apostles during His last Passover meal and took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom” ( Matt 26:27-29 NIV). There are several key points to what Jesus said in this passage. First we must understand Jewish wedding customs to grasp fully what He was saying. When a Jewish man proposed marriage to a Jewish woman, He would give her a contract called a Ketubah. In the contract were all the promises to his future bride. It also stated the price he would pay to obtain her. If she agreed, the bridegroom would hand her a cup of wine, if she drank from the cup the marriage was sealed and they became legally married. He would then say to her “I will not drink of this cup until we are reunited”. This was said because they would separate for at least a year as he prepared a place for them. Another reason he would not drink of the cup again was because if he did he would be proposing to someone else! No wonder Jesus said, “drink from it, all of you”, because their acceptance of the cup meant they would be legally married. He also said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”. In this statement Jesus was laying out the price He would pay to obtain His bride. The wages of sin is death and He paid this on our behalf (Romans 6:23). He could pay this because He Himself was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Have you partaken of His cup? If you have, did you realize you have already accepted marriage to Jesus! Does this change your commitment and faithfulness to Him? It should, knowing that God has called you to have an intimate relationship with Him. You therefore should seek to know the depth of this relationship so you may “know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19 NIV).