John the Baptist is the first New Testament figure to present Jesus as the “Bridegroom.” In John 3:29-30 when asked if he was the Messiah, he replied, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” When challenged by the religious leaders for feasting with his disciples, Jesus answered by comparing their situation with that of a wedding with himself as being the bridegroom. In Matthew 9:15 he says, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” All believers look forward to what is known in eschatological circles as the “marriage supper of the lamb.” This is the great feast that is described and will take place upon Christ’s return for the church in the future. Jesus as the bridegroom and the church, all believers, as the bride is well attested to in the New Testament. But the writers didn’t make this up to illustrate the situation. No, indeed.

John the Baptist and all the New Testament writers were referring Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. When Isaiah addresses God’s people, Israel, he says to them in Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.” Looking to the coming of their Messiah Isaiah says in 62:5, “…and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” It’s everywhere in the Old Testament. Boice remarks, “From this point on the comparison occurs more frequently, several times in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, for instance. Finally, the entire personal story of Hosea and the opening chapters of his prophecy are based on this theme. In all of these books God is the faithful lover and husband. Israel is the unfaithful wife and bride.”1

John the Baptist was the son of a Priest and was well acquainted with the Old Testament Scriptures. He didn’t make up the allusion of Jesus as the bridegroom. He recognized it clearly as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Prophecy. He pointed to Jesus as said, “Behold, the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Boice closes his discussion on this and says, “He knew that Israel was the bride and Jehovah was the bridegroom. Now Jesus appears, and John immediately casts him in God’s role. In mathematics, whenever you have two equations like “A equals B” and “B equals C,” it is always possible to make a third equation which says that “A equals C.” The rule is that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. In the same way, if Jehovah is the bridegroom and Jesus Christ is the bridegroom, it follows that Jesus is Jehovah. Is he your God? Is he your bridegroom.”

1 James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 260.

2 James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 259–260.