And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood..." ~Luke 22:20 NASBDespite the fact that an average American wedding now roughly amounts to a whopping, heart-attack inducing twenty-five grand, back in the day, God's people--the Israelites--really knew how to throw a wedding bash. Our weddings look rather small and undramatic compared to theirs.
In the Jewish culture there was a 3-4 step process to become married: pledging, betrothal, ceremony, consummation. Pledging was simply the groom gifting the bride and her family with money; the buying of the right and the opportunity to propose to the girl. This was completely the opposite of other middle-eastern cultures and countries, where it was the bride's family who was expected to pay a dowry to the groom. Israel didn't roll that way. Instead Israel, quite beautifully I think, reflected God's order and heart in having the groom pursue the bride. A reflection and reminder to honor, cherish, and treasure God's daughters (not sell them off to men like property).
Betrothal then marked the point of the couple's binding commitment to one another. It was twofold: First, it was a promise, the creating of a covenant, and vowing to keep it. The groom would pour a glass of wine, drink from it, then put it before his bride, who would either reject his proposal, or drink from it herself, signifying her "yes." The initiating of their marriage covenant.
Here's the thing: Christ is called our bridegroom too. The lover and husband of our souls. Individually as sons and daughters, and collectively as the church, the bride of Christ. He proposed to us on the evening before His death. Gathering his disciples, his followers, together they shared a meal. Jesus reached for a cup, poured the wine, drank, then gave it to those with Him, initiating the new covenant.
To this day, in church and in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we partake of communion. We echo as well as respond to that covenant--the betrothal--we've entered into in our relationship with Christ.
Remember how I said betrothal was twofold? First the promise, and second the preparation. See, after the two drank the wine to signify their engagement, they would part ways for a period of time: She'd go back home to wait, and he would go back home to begin building a room off of his father's house as their new home. (For you Bible trivia or architecture nerds, that's called an insula.) It was only until his dad checked all the boxes off the home inspection could the groom go get his girl. She had no clue when or what day it would occur, and the only means of communication with one another was usually through a male friend of the groom (i.e. the best man essentially) who'd run messages back and forth between the two.
But finally, when the home was done and approved, the groom would gather up his boys, they'd run to his bride's home, and blow these trumpet-like instruments (shofars) to announce the groom's coming and the start of the wedding. Everybody would party it up like crazy for days. Note the plural there: Days! The couple would have the ceremony, and finally to seal the marriage, the groom would take his bride back to their new home where they'd consummate their relationship. (And simultaneously, enact the threshold covenant as well, hence the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold to this day... fun fact for you.)
As the bride of Christ, we're still in that season of waiting while Jesus is preparing a place, a home for us...
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. ~John 14:3 ESVIt's a promise we hold onto until Christ returns for His bride, us, in splendor as told to us in the book of Revelation. Then we too will hear the shouts and trumpeting of His coming, our heavenly Bridegroom. And at last, the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place.
Until then, we have His best man with us in our waiting this side of heaven that He has sent us: the Holy Spirit (see Luke 24:49 and John 14:26).