So many allusions, symbols, and allegories are made in the Bible concerning Jesus and His sacrifice that anyone with the time and a Bible could easily write a book about the plethora of connections found therein. But, what seem to be missed over and again are the connections between the church and Christ in an eternal way, not to mention the direct application of parallel symbolism between Jesus and the church. This undeniable connection can be seen throughout the Old and New Testaments after many fashions and are important in recognizing just how special the church is not merely in the world, but to Jesus Himself.
The symbol that seems to stand out the most as it relates to the church is that of a bride; namely the Bride of Jesus. Throughout the Old Testament and especially in the prophetic books, we see a picture of the nation of Israel as described by God. In Ezekiel chapter 23, it is evident that God sees Israel as a wayward wife whom He at one time had lifted up from her own blood and filth only for her to return to it again. But, later in Chapter 34, God talks about how He will seem Israel out again and make her whole once more. The love, grace, mercy, and redemption affixed to this love story is amazingly prophetic in regard to the coming of Jesus and the rejoining of God and mankind that He offers.
The story picks up again in Ephesians 5 where Paul explains the relationship husbands and wives should have and compares it to the deep mystery of Jesus’ love for His church. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The beautiful description of Jesus’ love for His bride here is hard to miss. He wants to protect His wife and would do anything to make her whole and pure and happy.
Another area that is sometimes overlooked in the Jesus/church relationship is seen in a statement Jesus makes to His disciples after His resurrection and just prior to His ascension in John 14. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” In Jesus time, the disciples would have understood that He was referring to an ancient marriage custom. When a man was betrothed to a woman in those days, he could not marry his wife and bring her into his own home until he had built a room onto his father’s house. Jesus here in this passage seems to make an allusion to the fact that He is going to add many rooms (mansions in some versions) onto God’s house in which His bride will dwell forever. The rooms or mansions likely also refer to the new resurrection bodies (after the fashion of the one Jesus now possesses) that we will inhabit after a comparison to the tabernacles/temples we dwell in now 1 Cor 6:19.
Finally, there is a symbol of Jesus being directly referred to as the “second Adam”. “Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” 1 Cor 15:45-49. Here, Paul writes about the difference between Adam as the first man created by God and the Son of Man (Adam) in Jesus who is from Heaven, the God/Man. But, what about Eve. Why don’t we hear about her in this passage. She seems to be conspicuously absent throughout the New Testament, or is she?
In the Ephesians 5 passage we looked at earlier, there is a direct reference to Eve in verse 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” which is a direct quote from Genesis 2:24 regarding Adam and Eve. But, the comparison doesn’t end there. Let’s look at the creation of Eve back in Genesis chapter 2. “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” God took genetic material from Adam and used it to make another human being. Bone, flesh, blood, and blood vessels were all used to make this beautiful new creature. This was the first Adam and the first Eve.
John 19:34 tells a similar story of the second Adam and Eve. “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” Again, we have something special and filled with life and creative potential being taken from the side of the second Adam. But, this time instead of giving mere physical life to Eve, this spiritual material gives eternal life to the second Eve: the church!
The love story between Jesus and His bride unfolds throughout the Bible. It is the most tragic and beautiful and triumphant story ever known. Today, we can all be a part of it as the second Eve. Be blessed.