July 26 I Sunday
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” —John 14:3
When Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving them, He assured them that He was going to prepare a place for them and would be back to take them with Him. This mirrors how a marriage pledge would work in Jesus’s time. According to the customs of the ancient near east, once both sets of parents had agreed on the marriage, a bridegroom would give gifts to the bride. Then the bridegroom would go to his father’s house and he would either build a room or a house off his father’s house or a separate residence on his land in preparation for his bride. Once the bridegroom had built the place and completed all the necessary preparations, he would return with a great celebration to take his bride and bring her to the place he had prepared for her.
Jesus’s words mirror a human relationship to illustrate the type of relationship He is forging with His people—His bride, the Church. In Matthew 22, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast in a parable, except Jesus is not doing this only metaphorically; He is doing this literally. We read in John 13 of Jesus washing
His disciples feet and telling them, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me” (John 13:8). Afterwards, Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection are all part of the preparation to make the Church holy.
Taking into account what Jesus has done, Paul teaches, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27). Paul explains how a husband ought to love his wife and uses Jesus as the supreme example. Paul then quotes from Genesis 2:24 in his letter: “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32). Jesus frames the relationship He wants with His Church as a marriage relationship.
Christianity is not merely a religion to follow; it is a relationship to pursue. When was the last time we delighted to be with Jesus? Not with an agenda or a list of prayer requests that feel more like a list of non-negotiable demands that we want Him to answer for us. When was the last time we just sat in His presence in a sheer love relationship?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for the love that You have for Your Church—for me. Help me not to treat You as a religion to be followed but a Person to be pursued. Praise You!