My son Zack recently got engaged. He prayed and planned, dreamed and schemed, and finally popped the question in a very romantic and creative fashion.
Marital customs are very different today than they were in the 1st century.
The path that led down the isle would begin with two fathers talking about a possible marriage between their children. If things seemed favorable they would continue to negotiate the arrangement before including their son and daughter. In fact, the fathers would cover all the details before the young man and woman were involved.
When everything was settled, the fathers would sit down with their children and the young man would pour a glass of wine. Without saying a word he would extend the cup to her. This gesture was the proposal. By extending the cup the potential groom was saying, “Be my bride. Join yourself to me. Let us knit our lives and families together.”
Then he waited…not for a verbal response…but for a single solitary action. She would answer by drinking from the cup he offered.
Now put yourself in the borrowed room with Jesus and the twelve. Imagine being at the table with them for passover when Jesus changes mid-liturgy and clearly proclaims himself as the lamb that leads to life, deliverance, freedom, and strength. As your mind spins to comprehend symbolism of the bread Matthew records, “He took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you…”
The one who had revealed himself as the Lamb now presents himself as the Bridegroom.
Modern evangelicals typically reduce the cup to a symbol atonement, ala the blood was shed and God’s wrath was satisfied. But the cup was the shining icon of marriage to the twelve who were with Jesus. By extending the cup Jesus was saying, “Be my bride. Join yourself to me. Let us knit our lives and families together.”
The tumblers must have begun to fall into place as they began to lay other words of potential grooms next to other things Jesus said:
- When the proposal was complete the young man would assure her, “I am going to prepare a place for you.” Which meant he would be leaving and begin to build onto the family home. (John 14:2-3)
- He would also remind her to be ready for his return because only his father knew when that would be. (Mark 13:32)
We talk about this “relationship” with Jesus, but often limit it to what we think or believe. The celebration of communion is a tangible reminder of how intimate Jesus’ desire is. This week as you prepare to receive the Lord’s Supper take extra time before you reach for the cup. It’s as if Jesus is there, on one knee saying, “Be my bride. Join yourself to me. Let us knit our lives and families together.”