At the end of Jesus’ ministry we find three parables in Matthew’s Gospel, (a) the Wedding Feast, (22:1-14), (b) the Ten Virgins, (25:1-12), and (c) the Sheep and Goats, (25:31-46).
The Bible has many references to God gathering a remnant company to become the Bride/Wife of the Lamb/Lord’s Christ. Both Testaments have teaching to that effect. But there is one important factor often overlooked.
In the first two parables a Wedding is in view, and this means that God has already obtained His Bridecompany for Jesus. In the Wedding Feast parable, it is clear that the festivities are quite ready. In the Virgins parable the Bridegroom would have been escorting His Bride to his family home accompanied by some close friends*. And in the third story, we find Jesus accompanied by His Bride. How do we know that? By taking note of the words, “Inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of THESE my brethren, you did it unto me.” In other words, His “brethren” are there with Him.
Therefore each of these parables depicts a scene in which God has completed His work in gathering His Bride-elect, and everyone else in the parables is judged accordingly in respect of the future.
Is it not incorrect therefore to interpret the “Sheep” as God’s Church, or the Five Wise Virgins as representing the Church? And the Wedding Feast is prepared and ready – everyone else surely is a guest, not part of the Bride?
Are these thoughts helpful in coming to an understanding of the Bride?
*Words taken from Kenneth Bailey’s brilliant portrayal of the scene in his book “Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes” page 271.