You gotta love John the Baptizer. Sure, maybe his attire was a little unorthodox. And I’m not sure I would run out and buy a new breakfast cereal that he created with his own “secret ingredients.” But spend just a little bit of time considering him, and he’s pretty inspirational.
Easy, perhaps, to overlook John, though. Maybe because that was his whole purpose. He didn’t draw attention to himself but to Someone else. His mission wasn’t 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 was content to be a friend of the Bridegroom
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 bridegroom’s 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. The ministry’s coming to an end. The flash mobs are fewer and far between. The people are going to Someone else. And so John’s disciples are asking, “What are we going to do about it?” And 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 line the platform while the happy couple takes center stage. They’re lost to themselves, completely focused on the union about to be formed.
And even the friend standing next to the bridegroom knows that he’s not really “the best man.” He gets that the best man is actually the guy next to him offering the ring to his blushing bride. The friend doesn’t want to do anything to attract attention to himself. Instead, he does 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 and to be able to get close enough to stand next to the Bridegroom. He rejoiced, his joy being made complete, just to be near enough to hear the Bridegroom’s calling, “Will you be mine?” And then to see people respond, “I will,” as they came to Jesus–even if it meant that John’s “day job” was drying up.
How often do I fall into thinking that the wedding is about me?
Oh, maybe it is to some degree if I’m remembering that I’m the bride. But even then, my place “at the altar” is all because of the price He paid for my sin as the Lamb of God. It’s all 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, however, to think of myself more as the friend of the Bridegroom. There for Him. There but to serve 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 see Him.
Instead of my joy being dependent on how much recognition I get, or the amount of blessing I think I’m getting by being at the wedding, my joy, instead, should be made complete when Jesus is exalted. When Jesus alone is the object of attention. When people, as it were, turn their back on me because they’re longing to look into the face of 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 too fixed on Him alone. Doing nothing that would distract others from setting their gaze upon Him.
Content to be a friend of the Bridegroom.
By His grace. For His glory.