“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Our relationship to Jesus Christ is more complex than many preachers would have us believe. We hear that we are the bride of Christ, and that is true, but there is more to it than that. The bride of Christ is the holy city, or the New Jerusalem.
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,” Revelation 21:9,10.
I believe the great and high mountain represents the future nation of Israel, after the houses of Judah and Israel are joined as one. Therefore, the holy city will be the capital city of Israel. We, as Christians will be allowed to live in the city and “ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:17), and we will be able to come and go freely, as the gates will not be shut. However, not everyone who is descended from Israel will be allowed to enter the city.
“And I say unto you, That many will come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11,12.
Each gate of the city will be guarded by an angel (Revelation 21:12). Only those who have eternal life will be allowed to enter (Revelation 21:27). We receive eternal life by receiving God and His Word. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24.
If the dimensions of the city given in Revelation 21:16 are accurate, when it is set down in the Middle East, it will probably cover all of Jordan and Iraq, and most of Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. There will not be much left of those countries. The people now living there will have to leave. This great city, over 1300 miles long and wide is what Abraham looked forward to thousands of years ago. “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Hebrews 11:10.
The citizens of the city will be Israelites and non-Israelites who were faithful to God and worshipped him from the creation of Adam and Eve to the second coming of Christ. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9,10.
This city, as wonderful as it is, will not be our whole reward for following Christ. More important will be our eternal relationship to him. Our identity in the city as the bride of Christ indicates a very intimate relationship to him, but there is more. “Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? And who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:47-50.
Our relationship to Christ is brother to brother, sister to brother, and mother to son. Jesus came forth from Israel, so Israel is his mother, but only the faithful part of Israel, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” Romans 9:6.
“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Revelation 12:5,6.
We see that our relationship to him is more complex than just the marriage relationship, but there is more. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.
Many will think of him as father, although he points us to his heavenly Father, and stresses that he is our Father. Many people cannot understand God the Father, so they will look to Jesus Christ as their father figure in the kingdom age. Also, Jesus said, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” John 14:9. Our relationship to him is deeper than many people realize, but there is more.
“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:12-15.
Therefore, each of us can say that Jesus is our friend, and we remember that “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24.
Our relationship to Jesus Christ will be beyond any conjugal or fraternal bond that exists in our world. Only the relationship between members of the Trinity will be more intimate than ours to Christ. This is our eternal reward, and in this will be the fulfillment of the prophecy, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” I Corinthians 2:9.