In ancient Jewish custom, getting married was a two step process – couples would go through a formal betrothal ceremony, and months later a celebration where the groom would take the bride to the addition to his family’s home he had prepared for her. At the betrothal, a contract would be spoken or written, specifying the dowry the groom would have to pay, and any other conditions for making the bride his. Then the couple would symbolically share a cup of wine. The ceremony was legally binding and could not be undone without a divorce. At any time within the next year, he could come to her family’s home, show that he had fulfilled the terms of the contract, and take her away in a festival procession to become his wife.

At the Last Supper, Jesus echoed parts of this betrothal ceremony with His disciples. He spoke about a new covenant “between God and His people,” in which the bride-price would be His body and His blood, symbolized by bread and wine (Luke 22:14-20). He promised to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house, and return to take them there (John 14:1-4).

And now anyone who will receive His sacrifice to atone for sin is given a place at the table of communion, and a reserved seat at the marriage supper in glory (Revelation 19:6-9). We drink the sweet wine of forgiveness, because He drank the cup of bitter suffering that we deserved (Matthew 26:42, Isaiah 53:4-6).

In this shockingly unequal exchange, He gave His life to wed an unworthy, sinful bride. But He miraculously renders us spotless.  All that was ours is now His – the sin, the pain, the shame – and all that is His falls to us – the righteousness, peace, and freedom (Ephesians 5:25-27). By betrothal to Christ, we are legally transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). We are baptized into His name, united with the perfect Bridegroom (Matthew 28:19, Galatians 3:27), and we wait for Him to take us home. In the words of Sinclair Ferguson, “It isn’t Adam’s life and your past that now determine your life. It’s Christ’s life, and Christ’s past, that determine your life.” What a blessing to be called by His name!

Sinclair Ferguson’s awe-inspiring sermon on union with Christ: