One of my favorite authors, G.K. Chesterton, talked often about the Romance of Orthodoxy or the Romance of Christianity. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly he meant by that, but here’s a look at the Romance of Christ (based on Scripture, Jewish marital traditions, and a subjective understanding of love).
Jesus loved a woman. Jesus purposed in His heart that He would marry this woman He desired. He spoke to the Father, got things arranged, and left home to meet the woman He loved where she lived.
“But when the fullness of time had come” Gal. 4:4
Before He could drop the question, though, He needed to negotiate the mohar, the price, He would need to pay for His wife. The price was steep, but He loved her so much that He was willing to go forward with it. Like Jacob laboring 14 years for the woman he wanted so much, counting it as nothing, Jesus would count as nothing the price He’d pay. Already, in His heart He despised the shame, agreed to the terms, and moved toward that young woman, beautiful like a costly pearl.
“who for the joy that was set” Heb. 12:2
At the large gathering, everyone knew Jesus was going to propose—her family, His family, the guests, the crabby aunt in the corner sitting beside the old wine…and the young woman, too.
Jesus didn’t know the answer, however. Although the terms were set, she could reject Him.
He approached her, with a cup in His hand. Slowly, He extended to her the cup, full of the choicest wine, and made Himself vulnerable.
“He took a cup…and offered it” Mark 14:23
Would she take it?
The room exploded with joy when the bride-to-be gently took hold of the cup and began to drink. Even the crabby aunt was cheering. The wedding was on. The covenant had been legitimized.
“the new covenant” Matt. 26:28
Her heart sank when she heard the terms of the covenant, the offering that would be needed from her Beloved to redeem her. But He comforted her. Right there in the middle of the room, as everyone watched and witnessed the coming together of two beautiful people, as the guests and family rejoiced and made merry over the favorable marriage, He spoke to her. Referring to the custom that called for Him to go and prepare their home, He said:
“Let not your heart be troubled. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
The familiar words entered the room and upheld the tradition. The covenant had been established, the price paid, and now came the time of waiting, of preparation. She was nervous now. So many questions surrounded this period. How long would it take?
Would He forget her? Would she play the whore? Would she remain a chaste virgin? How long would it take for Him to build? All sorts of things for a woman to over think, over analyze, and worry about.
“present you as a pure bride to Him” 2 Cor. 11:2
She gazed into His eyes, His strong, manly eyes that were protective, but caring and soft. She thought of what He would pay—how precious this made her in His eyes—and was strengthened.
“the precious blood of Christ” 1 Pet. 1:19
At the end of the party, it was declared to everyone that Jesus and His bride were now sanctified to one another. They were each set apart for each other—not anyone else—and although their final consummation had not come yet, they were now, at this time, the possession of their partner.
Then Jesus left to prepare a place in His Father’s home for His beloved.
She prepared herself for marriage, collected all her gifts, learned and relearned the skills necessary to be a sweet aroma in the life of her future husband…and waited.
She expected Him to return at night, as was the custom, but which night she did not know. She lived in a large home with extended family and many rooms with windows that could potentially confuse the Groom. Therefore, she could be seen by her window as the sun set, diligently keeping a lamp burning so her Beloved would know she was ready.
There the lamp sat, in the middle of darkness, symbolizing the perseverance of the bride and the hope that soon a Groom would come walking down the streets. It glowed with the passion of lovers, and the nights were both long and short in a way that would only be understood by a person who has been in love.
One night, as she waited by her lamp, doing her best not to doze, the black silence was pierced by a shout!
“with a shout, with the voice of an archangel” 1 Thess. 4:16
It was a loud shout, ringing through the neighborhood with the voice of a mighty messenger—louder than the noisiest kids, louder even than the people who sold things on the market corners. Her heart leaped to her throat.
It was time! Her Beloved would soon be coming. She could already imagine Him striding down the streets with His company of men, holding torches high to illuminate their pathway through the dark streets, their faces set toward the goal. She was the goal and it felt good to be so hotly pursued. It had been such a long time since she had looked into the eyes of Jesus—those eyes that had been willing to shed blood in her name.
Jesus triumphantly led the boisterous procession down the road. The time had come when He would finally have His prize. His portion would be taken back to His home and there time would pass, but it would no longer matter because they’d be together. He imagined she’d be hurrying around making sure she was fully prepared to forever leave the dwelling she once called home. Home would now be with Him.
“[the] LORD’s portion is His people” Deut. 32:9
Here it was, the moment they had long awaited. The party arrived at the home of the woman and Jesus bade her to come out. She appeared in the doorway with her maids and gifts, blushing with both excitement and nervousness.
The attendants accompanying Jesus shouted with joy and the woman’s family encouraged her and the bride’s maids told her how spectacular the moment was. And Jesus, always the gentleman, gazed lovingly at His bride and asked if she would come to Him. Bashfully said “Yes” and as she stepped forward she realized that part of the beauty of this moment was the fact that she had butterflies in her stomach. It had been a risky endeavor.
She took His scarred hands, the hands that had paid for her. Then Jesus gathered her up in His arms, causing her and everyone else to cheer excitedly. As they made their way back to His home, she whispered into His ear the silliness of her worries and doubts that had plagued her during the waiting period and they both laughed. Everything seemed so magical and worthwhile right then.
“a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” 2 Cor. 4:17
When the wedding party finally arrived, the awaiting guests eagerly greeted them with exclamations of happiness. At the table, the Father had prepared the meal and sang to His Son and His wife as they entered the banquet hall. The third Host signaled Jesus and His bride to a table, where they took the seats of honor. When everyone was seated and hushed, the Father asked Jesus to propose a toast before the festivities began. Jesus lifted a cup, much like the cup that had begun it all—but there was no bitterness in this one, only joy and gladness. He stood, looked around at His guests, then focused on His wife, and said, “It is finished, My Dear. I will make you My wife forever and there will be no more pain and no more sorrow. You’re mine now.”
And they locked eyes once more and knew that it would be so.
After the moment had been savored, the Host was heard saying to the Father, “Aren’t we supposed to party for seven days now?”
“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” Eph. 4:32
And you? Where will you be during that party?
I originally submitted this article on the OUTLOOK magazine.