The Bridegroom Who Pursues You

This week the blog is sponsored by Core Christianity and this post is written Pastor Adriel Sanchez,  host of Core Radio, a daily live radio program aimed at answering tough questions about the Christian life. Core Christianity exists to help people understand the core truths of the Christian faith through their daily radio program, web articles, and free resources.

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When I was in college, there was a local frozen yogurt place called the Yogurt Mill that was located just a few miles nearby. I attended a small Christian liberal arts school, and the joke on campus was that if a guy took a girl to the Yogurt Mill, he was destined to marry her. It was totally fine to go to the Yogurt Mill on your own or with a group of friends, but if you were meeting someone at the Yogurt Mill, that alone would raise eyebrows. Everyone knew that the Yogurt Mill is where you meet your future spouse!

Although it’s not a mill, nor does it sell yogurt, there’s a similar meeting place in the Old Testament—the place where a man of marriageable age meets a woman of marriageable age and becomes betrothed (see Gen. 24, 29; Exod. 2).

In John 4, Jesus—the bridegroom (John 3:29)—intentionally travels to a foreign place (Samaria) and meets a woman at a well. No wonder this raised the eyebrows of the disciples. It should raise our eyebrows too! Not just because Jesus met a woman at a well, but because of the specific woman he intentionally sought out. She isn’t the kind of young woman a respectful Jewish man—a rabbi no less!—would pursue for several reasons. First, she’s from Samaria (4:7), and the Jews in Jesus’ day didn’t associate with Samaritans. Second, she’s had five husbands. Even by our standards, five husbands are a lot! In those days, it would have been jaw-dropping. It would have raised a lot of questions too. Perhaps some of her husbands had died, but the most likely answer is that they’d all left her. And right now, she’s living with a man who isn’t her husband, adding to the scandal.

Five times divorced, now living with some random guy, she’s an outcast, living with shame. In her mind, finding true love—one who will never leave her or forsake her—is probably no longer an option. She’s given up looking. But not Jesus. He hasn’t given up on her.

This woman is a picture of the bride of Christ, the church, baggage and all! Jesus came to gather his bride, the straying people of God, and just as he offers the woman at the well, he offers his people himself, the living water.

When and how did Jesus give this woman the living water? We find out at the end of John’s Gospel when he mentions something about Jesus’ crucifixion that we don’t find anywhere else: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (19:34). Talk about living water! In the Old Testament, God’s people were forbidden from eating food with blood because the “life is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). Here we have the lifeblood-water flowing from his pierced side, from his heart. It is the blood of Jesus that washes sinners, that gives us life, making us a part of the bride of Christ.

This, however, isn’t the first time a bride was created from the side of someone in Scripture, is it? Think back to Genesis 2, when God put Adam to sleep and from his side created Eve. At the end of John’s Gospel, we see the second Adam on the cross, and from the blood that flowed from his side, a new bride, the church, was formed.[1]

Who does Jesus pursue to be in the church, his bride? People who come from the wrong families, who don’t worship God the right way, who have all sorts of baggage, who have been rejected and neglected. Dear friend, Jesus pursues you, and through his shed blood, he makes you a part of his bride, the church.

[1] See Brant Pitre, Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (United Kingdom: Image, 2014), 78–79.

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