BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 words
Jesus is The Bridegroom
Jesus, “needed to go through Samaria.” (John 4:1). On his journey, in the heat of the day, he found himself alone by Jacobs Well. At the noon hour, a woman, alone, came to collect water. Jesus engaged the woman in conversation. You know the story.
Here is something you may not know. The story appears to be modeled on a marriage scene from the Old Testament.
First, in the Old Testament, God is pictured as the husband of his people. “As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5). (See Isaiah 49-50, Jeremiah 2, Ezekiel 16, Hosea 1-3).
Second, a significant Old Testament image is the picture of a man meeting his future wife at a well in the heat of the day.
- Abraham’s servant meets Rebecca; she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water” (Genesis 24:15-16).
- Jacob meets Rachel; “Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel” (Genesis 29:9-11).
- Moses meets Zipporah; “He [Moses] even drew water for us and watered the flock. . . .Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage” (Exodus 2:18-21).
Third, the Gospel of John builds on a wedding theme.
- The first miracle: “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding” (John 2:1).
- John the Baptist refers to himself as the friend of the bridegroom: “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29).
Fourth, the story of the Woman at the Well opens with a memory of Jacob’s family, “near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there” (John 4:5-6).
THE POINT: John presents Jesus as the bridegroom.
- Jesus takes the role of God coming to his bride. Clearly, John wants us to know that “the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father” (John 1:18).
- The Samaritan woman take up the role of the Bride, “he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
The bride is not pure, but broken and rejected. Jesus notes that, “the man you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18).
Jesus does not come to us because we are worthy;
he comes for us in love.
For more information about the wedding images in John 4, see
- Kevin Quast, Reading the Gospel of John: An Introduction [Paulist Press, 1991] p. 29
- And the blog, http://exegeticalnotes.blogspot.com/2011/03/wedding-theme-in-gospel-of-john.html)