Faith Lessons by Ray Vander Laan: No Greater Love, Part 1 (Korazin)

The video begins at the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Just to the north are the ruins of Korazin, a city where Jesus often taught.

Korazin

At Korazin the DVD shows the ruins of the synagogue, containing a “Moses seat” where the teacher — perhaps Jesus at times — sat to read Torah. 

In ancient marriage practice, the wife moved in with the husband in an insula — a house added on to his parents’ house. Each son would add a few rooms to the house to that multiple generations, aunts, uncles, and cousins all lived in the same complex.

Girls married at around 14 or 15 and the husband would have been in his mid-20s. His family would pay the “bride price” or dowery. The husband would go home to prepare a place for her — which may take months or years. During this time, she was one who was “bought with a price.” Paul’s similar words to the Christians were much like a groom’s words to his fiancee. 

 

(1 Cor 6:19-20)  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

When Paul told the Corinthians not to engage in idolatrous prostitution, he was referring to them as married to Jesus. You can’t have sex with those women, he said, you are bought with a price — you are married!

Similarly, in Paul’s passage about marriage and divorce in 1 Corinthians 7, he writes,

 

(1 Cor 7:20-23)  Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you–although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

You can’t sell yourselves into slavery — not while you’re married to Jesus!

 

 

The bride did not know when her groom would come for her. She just had to be ready. When the insula was finished, the groom and his friends would go to get his bride. They would gather in the courtyard, the man took the woman into their home and consummate the wedding. The bestman would stand outside the door and announce when they were married (when consummation occurred). The would trigger a long celebration with family and friends.

 

(John 14:2-3)  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

The King James Version translators got this one wrong, saying “mansions” when they should have said “rooms.” The image Jesus presents is of a bridegroom leaving to prepare his insula for his bride. Not a mansion on a hilltop, but a complex of rooms with a shared courtyard, in which we all live as a single family.

 

(Mat 25:1-13)  “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The lesson, of course, is that we will not know when Jesus will return, but we’d better be ready.

The same imagery is used in the Lord’s Supper. Vander Laan says

When it was time for a man and woman to marry, both fathers would negotiate the bride price, recognizing that the bride would be a precious loss to her family.

Taking a cup of wine, the groom drank from it and offered it to the woman, symbolically saying that he wanted to make a covenant and would be willing to give his life for her. The woman sealed the engagement by drinking from the same glass. …

Jesus made this comparison especially clear during the Last Supper. Taking a cup of wine in his hands, he told his disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).

No doubt his disciples immediately recognized the imagery of a marriage proposal. And they were able to picture the depths of Jesus’ love — a love so deep that Jesus made a covenant with them and was willing to give his life for them.

By using marriage imagery, Jesus said, in effect, “I love you as my bride, so I’ll pay the bride price. I’ll give up my life for you and to go my Father’s house to prepare a place for you. And one day I will return and take you to be with me forever.”

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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