On Sunday, Nov. 29, Rev. Linda Jafari, associate minister at New Canaan Worship Center in Richmond, Virginia preached “God Is Here” based on John 14:1-6 and 15-21. The minister began her sermon by saying this particular passage is known as Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse” where He uses the symbolism of Jewish wedding customs to explain future events.
Rev. Jafari shared with the congregation that the Jewish wedding consisted of five parts, according to Arnold Fruchtenbaum.
- The arrangement. This is part of the wedding where the father of the bride and groom negotiated the terms and conditions of the wedding contract. After the contract was signed, the father of the groom paid the bride price.
- The betrothal ceremony. The bride and groom are immersed in water separately as a symbol of a spiritual cleansing. This was followed by the exchange of vows, rings, and sharing a cup of wine to seal the deal. After this, the couple was considered legally married though they did not live together or consummate the marriage.
- The preparation period. During this time, the groom was away preparing a place for his bride to live at his father’s house. The bride also used this time to prepare herself for the wedding. The bride had to be observed to determine if she was a virgin. She was required to examine every aspect of her life and change anything that needed to be changed. The bride also spent many hours making her wedding garments.
- The wedding ceremony. This could happen at any time during the betrothal period. The exact date was a surprise to the bride and groom and was determined solely by the father of the groom. At the father’s approval, the groom and the friends of the bridegroom would leave the groom’s house to go get his bride.
- The wedding feast. This happened after the wedding ceremony.
Rev. Jafari made a comparison between the Jewish wedding customs to our relationship with Jesus. She said that God the Father negotiated our release from the prince of this world and paid the bride price with the blood of Jesus. The betrothal took place when we were baptized, confessed our love and devotion to Jesus, the bridegroom. It was sealed with the communion wine which represents Jesus’ blood of the new covenant. During the preparation period, Jesus said He would go away to prepare a place for us, but He would send the Holy Spirit to be our advocate. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is here today.
Rev. Jafari shared a Hebrew word she recently learned from a Formational Prayer Seminar she attended. A “shoshbin” is a friend of the groom who protects him until the marriage has been consummated. Christ loves his bride so much that he sent His other self as a shoshbin. The Lord is here today in the person of the Holy Spirit to assist us during our preparation period, and He will be with us until the Lord returns. Jesus is yet to come, but we don’t know the exact day, but Jesus’ other self is here in the person of the Holy Spirit as our shoshbin until Jesus comes.
“God is here.”