One of the most joyous moments of my life was my wedding day. I vividly remember the buildup of anticipation for the wedding day, and when the day finally came, from the moment I awoke that morning, I experience a joy unlike ever before in my life. It was a pure, inexhaustible joy. My face shone and every little interaction of the day was vibrant and alive. The only other times in my life that brought me joy like that day were the days my kids were born.
Christmas not only tells the story of God coming to us, but also tells the story of a wedding. At Christmas, Christ—the second Person of the Trinity—wed himself to human flesh for the sake of redemption. Just as a man and woman come together in marriage to become one, in Jesus, God and humanity come together in an inseparable union. Several times in the gospels Jesus is called or compared to a bridegroom (Matt. 9:15; Jn. 3:29; Eph. 5:25), and the church the bride (Rev. 21:2, 9). In one of the most magnificent images of joy and hope in Scripture is John’s vision of the wedding supper of the lamb in Revelation 19.
When Jesus gave up all the privileges of being God to take on human flesh to rescue us (Phil. 2), he was motivated as a husband in his love for his bride. Brant Pitre writes, “Jesus of Nazareth was more than just a teacher, or a prophet, or even the Messiah; he was the bridegroom of God of Israel come in the flesh. As the Bridegroom Messiah, his mission was not just to teach the truth, or proclaim the kingdom, but to forgive the sinful bride of God and unite himself to her in an everlasting covenant of love.” (Jesus the Bridegroom: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, 4).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also describes this well in saying, “The Son of God, by becoming incarnate and giving his life, has united to himself in a certain wait all mankind saved by him…The entire Christ life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church” (CCC 1612, 1617).
The wedding of Jesus to humanity at Christmas should be a source of inexhaustible joy for us. We needed rescued, as the bride, and our loving, capable husband came to us to be joined to us in marriage. When we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember that it’s not just about Jesus showing up to save us, it’s about an eternal bond with God that will alter everything about us.