By Kaden Slay
One of my dearest friends and heroes, Jennie Lee Riddle, developed a study based on the folklore of betrothal that has impacted the way I live in the here and now, and has set my heart towards eternity. She and I wrote this song together as a way to celebrate Communion, and as a way to respond to Jesus’ Covenant with us. I see no need to rewrite what she taught me through that co-writing session. Rather, I will provide her words for you here:
We, the ransomed Bride, once had the dowry price of blood hanging over our head. Our former master demanded the absolute highest price to release us. For Love’s sake, our Groom, Jesus, paid with every last drop until He fully won the legal right to us. The price to free us from captivity was negotiated long before our Love approached us with the cup and asked us to be His. Jesus, The Lamb of God, was slain from the foundations of the world. When Love was slain, the dowry price was paid in full and the marriage covenant was established (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 Peter 1:18-20).
In the Hebrew culture of Jesus’ time, it was customary for the parents of a young bride and groom to arrange a marriage and negotiate an agreeable bridal price sometimes when the couple were mere infants. When the groom’s father decided the couple had reached sufficient maturity and the time had come for the formal betrothal season, a simple ceremony would commence. The father would give the son a precious cup. The groom would then hand the bride this cup, awaiting to see if she returned his affection. Perhaps he even said words like, “This is the cup of my covenant with you” (1 Corinthians 11:25). If the bride put the Kiddush (sanctification) cup to her lips and drank of the wine, signifying agreement, the joyful wait began. The groom would bestow to her the most extravagant gifts his family could afford and would care for her material needs during the betrothal season.
“Do this in remembrance of me.” The words Jesus used at the last supper ring with the romance of a groom to a bride. Betrothal marked the end of childhood and singleness, and began a legally binding season in anticipation of life together in marriage. This traditional bitter-sweet season was one of separation and preparation, usually a year to two years long. “I go to prepare a place for you” and “I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you” (John 14:2, Matthew 26:29).
“I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). She would joyfully work on her dress as he would construct their dwelling. During that time, the father of the groom would watch over the progress of both projects. In a wealthy home, this task was entrusted to the father’s most trusted personal servant, who was responsible for carrying their love letters to each other. We recognize this as a type and foreshadowing of our Holy Spirit.
Once the father became satisfied that the home was suitable and knew the bride’s dress was fully prepared, gleaming white, and without spot or wrinkle (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:27), he would be the one that announced it was time for the nisuin (formal marriage ceremony). At this point the groom would gather the wedding party, with shouts and trumpets and celebration (1 Thessalonians 4:16) to go and “kidnap” the bride. Because it was customary for this grand parade to occur at night, the bride was to keep her lamps burning at all times to signify her readiness and eager waiting for her groom.
This beautiful tradition is a stunning representation of our relationship with Jesus. This is our reality as the “Bride of Christ.” Jesus paid our dowry price in full as the Lamb of God, slain from the foundations of the world. The highest price for our ransom was exacted. He offered us the Cup of Covenant. He gave us His blood, His breath, and His Spirit (our Helper - the Holy Spirit) and is currently preparing our place with Him. Now we await our soon approaching Wedding Day, the Marriage Supper of The Lamb. Soon Jesus will sweep us up into His arms and take us away to be with forever with Him for eternity.