"And the angel said to her "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son and shall call his name Jesus …" Luke 1:28-39
I have often wondered what it must have been like to be Mary. She was probably only about thirteen or fourteen, Joseph, her husband-to-be, only a few years older. I can’t remember much about being thirteen, except that it is an awkward age. You are not really considered a ‘child’ anymore, yet you are just barely a teenager and still far from being an adult. You are just in that ‘in between’ stage. Your body is changing from child to adult and those changes are driving you nuts! For females, her body is changing from little girl into a woman, huge changes that will mean she will soon be capable of becoming a mother….even though that is the farthest thing from her mind at the moment. Yet, for this young Jewish girl, it may not have been so far off in her mind. It was customary in those days for young girls to marry at the age of thirteen or fourteen, so it was not out of the ordinary that she was about to be married. Her dad was not going to come looking for them with a shotgun. In fact, he was probably preparing her dowry and making plans for the wedding because Mary was promised to Joseph.
Weddings were much different in those days. Scripture tells us that Mary was "betrothed" to Joseph. Today it is often said that they were engaged, putting a modern day spin on a Biblical event. But that really gives a false picture. In ancient days, it was customary for the father of the groom to send out an agent to find a bride suitable for his son. Later the son and prospective bride would be introduced. However, the bridegroom did have a say in it. If they chose to marry, a price had to be paid to the father of the bride. Then there would be a ceremony in which the groom would give her a symbol of his love, something of value…. today it would be a ring. Then a contract was written and had to be signed. This contract stated the price of the bride, the promises of the groom and the rights of the bride. The rite of betrothal is complete when the bride accepts the groom’s gift(s) and signs the contract. Then a cup of wine was shared between the bride and groom to seal the contract. At this time the groom would return to his father’s house and begin to prepare a home for his new bride. Before he left her, however, he would say "I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come again for you." Sound familiar? John 4:1-3 records the same statement made by Jesus to his disciples! The groom’s father would decide when everything was ready for his son’s bride, and then he would tell him to go and get her. The bride, in the meantime, did not know when he would be coming. It could be any time in the next year. She was to watch and wait and be ready for his arrival at any time. When he was approaching for her, people would run ahead of him and proclaim "Behold! The bridegroom cometh!" Then he would come for her, they would then enter the marriage chamber where they would consummate the marriage and would remain in the wedding chamber for 7 days while the guests celebrated and on the 7th day they would emerge and a great marriage feast would be held!
The bride was to be watching and waiting. Today, if you are a believer, you are part of the Bride of Christ. Your Groom….Jesus Christ…is going to return for you one day. Are you
Longing……. For that day???
One day, God will give the word, and the proclamation will sound "Behold! The Bridegroom Cometh!" Will He be coming for you? It could be today! Are you ready????
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