Collection: Christ the Bridegroom
ARTIST: Br. Robert Lentz, OFM
The Old Testament prophets, and mystics ever since, have searched for ways to describe God's love for humankind. They have compared God to father, mother, bridegroom, lover. Bridegroom was how many mystics thought of Christ in the high Middle Ages. This icon depicts Christ as the royal bridegroom, together with St. John the Evangelist, an intimate friend.
In the Christian scheme of things, love is the only path to God, and God is called Love. William of St. Thierry, a 12th century French monk, summoned up the spiritual life in this way: "You first loved us so that we might love you. And that was not because you needed to be loved by us, but because we could not be what you created us to be except by loving you."
(On Contemplating God. 10)
CHRIST THE PERFECT BRIDEGROOM
Among the titles of Christ, The Bridegroom is closely associated with human life and also rich in spiritual significance. It is a familiar description in Scripture and is used some 14 times in the New Testament. It represents the expressiveness of His covenantal relationship with His people. The Church is depicted as the bride of Christ and as a Bride is spiritually united with Christ.
Jesus Christ is portrayed as a bridegroom, not only by John The Baptist but Christ Himself and by The Apostles Paul and John.
The future coming of Jesus Christ is compared to the sudden arrival of the bridegroom of an eastern style wedding. Jesus' parables contained this truth.
Jesus is One Bridegroom of Unsurpassed Distinction:
The Son of The Most High God, The Word of Life and Glory, The Prince of Kings of The Earth, The Eternal Word of Light and Being. The Joy of Angels and Lord over All. The Father's Equal and Eternal Delight. The Ruler of the Universe and the Proprietor of All Things. Humankind cannot describe His dignity or His glory.
Jesus is One Bridegroom of Unequalled Beauty and Majesty:
He is the desire of all the nations. All that is fair and beautiful shows forth His loveliness. Jesus is likened to the 'rose of Sharon' and to the 'bright morning star'. The Beauty of Christ is the joy of His people. His radiance and splendor is in His perfection, which He will share with His Bride. His glorious splendor is reaffirmed through His exaltation.
Jesus is One of Boundless Riches:
He is heir of all things, the treasures of nature, of grace, of all glory and they are infinite, exhaustless and eternal. His power is ultimately supreme. The riches of Christ are spiritual and are forevermore valuable than any material treasure.
Jesus is One Bridegroom of Perfect Goodness:
All excellence is concentrated in Him, His Love passes understanding, His tenderness is inexpressible, and His compassion never fails, His mercy and loving-kindness endures forever. Christ's perfect qualities are made freely available. His goodness is demonstrated in His actions, in His commands and in His promises. His goodness is experiential.
Jesus is One Bridegroom of True Devotion and Fidelity:
Truth and faithfulness are His divine nature, the same yesterday, today and forever. His mind never alters and His heart never changes. His love is as great as His power and neither knows measure nor end. His faithfulness has been proven to God The Father, by His Word and to His Church. Christ is faithful to the Truth and to its application. He is the personification of Truth. He is ever faithful and true and is the perfect embodiment of these attributes.
Jesus Christ became united to humankind as The Son of God and redeemed His Bride from misery, pollution and death.
Christ, as the Bridegroom of His Church does what no other bridegroom can do, He purifies her from all impurities, removes all her diseases, transforms the beauties of His own character and holy image, preserves and saves unto eternal life. He rejoices over His Bride and hides nothing from His heart. He vows to perfect, cherish and delight in His Bride. Christ presents Himself to His own precious Church.
Jesus became the Bridegroom of The Church as a gift of The Father and of a voluntary act. His own mercy towards humankind induces Him to give Himself up for its redemption. He purchased it by the shedding of His blood.
Christ presents His Bride, The church, blameless. Christ declared His people to be His Bride. His Church is comprised of all renewed spiritual persons. The Church is the spiritually betrothed community of believers, of whom Jesus Christ is The Head. The Church is called and set apart to serve. The members are intended to be filled with The Holy Spirit. They are God's family and inheritance. The Church is required to obey God's Word, to remember their redemption and commemorate it.
The Church should return Christ's Love and honor Him. Christ loves in spite of sin, and has invited sinners to be united to Him, to partake of His grace and nature; He entreats them to be reconciled to Him, to have Life. None but those who have Christ as their Bridegroom shall enjoy His salvation and enter His Kingdom. His love indwells His Bride, and His love is the utmost in quality.
The union with Christ and believers allow them to share in all the benefits and riches that result from His person and work for The Bride, there is identification with Christ. He rejoices over His Bride. The Bride is exalted with Christ who has received honor, power and glory. All needs of The Bride are provided for. The profound truth of the union of Christ and His Bride, The Church, is the illustration for the relationship.
The Bible sets forth a marital relationship to enable the understanding of the depth of spiritual application in a believer's heart. The Bridegroom and Bride are symbols of the anticipation of becoming one. Christ The Bridegroom desires to become one with His Church, a beginning of new life of great joy and hope. The Bridegroom endows His Bride with His gifts and He will come to claim her.
The Church relies on the inner spiritual presence of Christ while waiting for The Messianic Banquet. This supper is pictured with Christ as The Bridegroom and The Church as both The Bride and the invited guests. The feast is a sign of spiritual blessing and spiritual satisfaction because of the union and fellowship with Christ. It is a celebration of God's goodness.
The Symbolic Development in The Book of Revelation:
The Bride is clothed in white, fine linen is prepared. The new home is to be The New Jerusalem which the glory of God and The Lamb furnishes light. The guests arrive, none are admitted except those written in The Lamb's Book of Life. The refreshment will be the Water of Life without price and twelve kinds of fruit. Christ joins the Church. The Spirit and The Bride say 'Come'.
Matthew 9:14-15, Revelation 21 and 22, Ephesians 5:22-33