The Friend of the Bridegroom (re-run)

Running behind schedule this morning . . . so, after finishing up my readings, rather than write I went back over some of my previous musings on these passages.  Given the number of weddings I’ve attended this summer, thought re-posting this one from 2011 might be appropriate . . .

You gotta love John the Baptizer. Sure, maybe his dress was a little unorthodox . . . not sure I would run out and buy a new breakfast cereal that he created with his very own “secret ingredients” . . . but spend just a little bit of time considering him, and he’s pretty inspirational. And maybe the reason I don’t often take note of him is because that was his whole purpose . . . not to draw attention to himself but to Someone else . . . not to be in the limelight but to shine the spotlight on Another. But I think there’s some value to noodling on this guy a bit . . . after all, Jesus said of him, ” I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). Here’s what caught my attention this morning . . .

John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegrooms voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”    (John 3:27-30 ESV)

Context? Some of John’s disciples come to him with a problem they’re picking up on. John’s losing his following as they go to Jesus to be baptized and follow Him. The ministry’s coming to an end . . . the flash mobs have stopped centering around John . . . they are going to another. “What are we going to do about that?” they ask. John’s response? In essence, “Rejoice!”

When it came to Christ becoming the focus, John was more than content to step to the side. After all, he says, the wedding isn’t about the wedding party, it’s about the bride and groom. The wedding attendants stand aside as witnesses of “those two crazy kids” coming together to unite their lives . . . the friends are on the sidelines . . . lost to themselves . . . completely focused on the union about to be formed. The friend of the bridegroom knows that he’s not really the “best man” . . . but that the guy next to him offering the ring to his blushing bride is really the best man. The friend doesn’t want to do anything to attract attention to himself but instead do everything he can to ensure that the focus is duly placed on the one whose voice people need to hear.

John was thrilled to be part of the wedding party . . . to be able to get close enough to stand next to the Bridegroom. He rejoiced just to be near enough to hear the Bridegroom’s voice . . . and seeing people flock to Jesus, even if it meant that John’s “day job” was drying up, made John’s joy complete.

How often do I fall into thinking that the wedding is about me? Oh, maybe it is to some degree if I consider myself as the bride . . . but even then, my blessed place “at the altar” is all about the price He paid for my sin as the Lamb of God and about His persistent pursuit of me, a wayward sheep, as the Great Shepherd who came to seek and save the lost. I might do well from time to time to think of myself more as the friend of the bridegroom . . . there because of Him . . . there for Him . . . fully prepared to fade into the background . . . not desiring to draw attention to myself but asking only to be a magnifying glass through which Jesus is brought into clearer view by those who need to “come.”

Instead of my joy being dependent on how much recognition I get . . . or the amount of blessing I perceive to receive by being at the wedding . . . my joy, instead, should be made complete when Jesus is exalted . . . when Jesus becomes the object of attention . . . when people, as it were, turn their back on me because they instead see the glorious Bridegroom.

Truly, He must increase . . . I must decrease . . . if only in my own eyes . . . if only as part of my own agenda. It should be enough to just be standing there with Him . . . my eyes fixed on Him alone . . . doing nothing that would distract others from setting their gaze upon Him . . . a friend of the Bridegroom . . . by His grace . . . and for His glory. Amen.


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