The Friend of the Bridegroom

JohnBapThey [John’s disciples] came to John, and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, the same baptizes, and everyone is coming to him.” John answered, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. This, my joy, therefore is made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all.” (John 3:25-36

John the Baptist was the ideal messenger and forerunner of Jesus Christ as his words in this passage reveal. John was not all about John, but he was  a man devoted to pointing to Jesus Christ. His faithfulness is nothing short of inspirational. His famous words, “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” were descriptive of his single passion, the spirit in which he came. Do we really know what these words mean? Do we know it on the level that John did? This is John’s mission statement. It was his goal from the outset. It never entered his mind to establish and maintain a high-profile ministry or following. When asked by the religious Jews who he was he simply answered “[I am] the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord…” He found his identity in Christ, not in his calling and ministry. He didn’t even call himself, “Prophet John.” From the shores of the Jordan, where he first saw the One whose shoelaces he was not worthy to unloose, John never stopped heralding, he never stopped pointing; he never stopped directing the eyes and hearts of the hearers to Jesus. He never stopped saying, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

But the time came for John to decrease even further. His job was done and he saw the need to disappear. He had prepared the way for Jesus and now it was time for him to make way for the Bridegroom. He knew that if he stayed he would find himself in competition with Jesus. How many of us are willing to decrease? Isn’t it the carnal will of every man to leave a legacy?

John’s followers had not yet left him and gone after Jesus, and now they were tempting him. Their words were filled with jealousy against Christ. “He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” They wanted John to get with the program; to compete with the very one he was called to serve. Couldn’t John see that his ministry was failing? That people were no longer coming to him? Perhaps they were attempting to get John to hold more meetings, to do what had worked for him in the past. Get up! Do something! Can’t you see that all are coming to Him?

Today in the blogosphere we would say, “Post more blog articles and keep your name in front of the people and the search engines alerted to your presence!” Oh, how aware many of us are about how many followers we have. Many bloggers will go out and click “likes” on hundreds of other blog articles without even reading them in order to get others to come to their sites and boost their stats. If we are about pointing God’s people to Christ and not to ourselves, should our stats be a motivation for our actions and our writing? Shouldn’t we be waiting on the Lord and the voice of His Spirit to tell us what He wants written? I can tell you that if you do, you can count on being led down a path where you decrease and Christ increases.

John’s reply to his followers is teeming with significance. He reminded his disciples that “a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” John did acknowledge that he had (past tense) been sent before Christ, but that time was over. John reminded his disciples what his ministry was all about when he said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom.” In the context of the traditional Hebrew wedding ceremony, John saw himself as the friend of the bridegroom, who helped in any way he could to present the bride unmolested, as a chaste virgin, to the Groom.

The final act of the friend of the bridegroom was on that long awaited night when the groom came to steal the bride away. When she heard the cry, “The bridegroom comes, go out to meet him,” she was swept away to the house that the Groom had been long preparing.

According to the Jewish tradition, the friend of the bridegroom followed the wedding procession at a distance. When the groom took the bride into the bridal chamber, the friend of the bridegroom drew near. Standing just outside the bridal suite, he listened to the sound of lovemaking and at the first note of joy in the Bridegroom’s voice, the friend of the Bridegroom danced and shouted for joy. His job over, the groom’s friend turned and walked away for the marriage was consummated and his calling was fulfilled.

So we see in John a perfect messenger with a perfect heart. May God help us to be such friends and messengers of the Bridegroom today and walk away from any clamoring after our own gain under the guise of ministry!

(Note: I would like to give credit to my good brother in Christ, George Davis, for having much of the original inspiration for this article. To read all of the original essay we wrote together go to: http://www.awildernessvoice.com/ElijahCompany.html )

Advertisements

34 comments on “The Friend of the Bridegroom

  1. This is beautiful, Michael, both in the life of John and as evidenced in your own life. And the ability to rejoice in the Bridegroom’s increase (even at our own expense) is a gift only the Spirit can give. May He continue to increase and overflow through you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Wow, Tiffany! I do not know what to say, only that if there is any good thing in me it is Christ Himself and THAT through much stripping away of this old Adam in me. It seems that Paul nailed it when he told the saints that we must enter the kingdom of heaven through much tribulation and I know enough of your own story that you will agree. May He continue to magnify Himself in you as well, dear sister.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. David Bolton says:

    Michael, this blessed me greatly! So clearly and powerfully written! I ever marvel at the vessel that Father chose to prepare the way for His Son coming into this world. One separate from the prevailing religious system of the day. One stripped of all pretention and human vanity. One so willing to exalt the Bridegroom above himself. As this is the vessel chosen to prepare the way for the first coming, so may God raise up a multitude of vessels in this day, even corporate ones, that embody this same spirit to prepare the way for the second coming! The time is at hand! Thank you for pointing us to John’s high and yet lowly example!! All blessings!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you, Michael, for the blog. John the Baptist fulfilled his purpose. Father, help us to fulfill our purpose with the same singleness of purpose that characterized John.

    I love and appreciate you, my brother.
    Pat Orr

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I felt the Spirit’s wind while reading your article, Michael. Great post! ⭐

    We might wonder why John the Baptist was able to decrease instead of longing for more increase of himself. It seems to me that he already had a mindset which is completely unnatural for our Old Adam/Eve nature. Actually, I can only find one plausible explanation for this attitude. LOVE. It appears to me that he recognized the Bridegroom even before both, Jesus and John, were born since we read,

    “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Lk 1:41-44 ESV)

    What do we really know about the time before we were born? Not that much, I guess. 😉 If God chose us before this world was created, He is certainly also able to connect two people through His Holy Spirit before birth. The psalmist says,

    “Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.“ (Ps 71:6 ESV)

    Just as the Lord confirmed to Jeremiah,

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5 ESV)

    All happens by grace, whether God chooses us so that we serve Him or if He decides that our “ministry” is over. What is earthly ministry compared with enjoying the presence of God? It is nothing since you cannot compare this world’s amiss with the land of bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, my dear friend, I think you are right. John might have even been filled with the Spirit in his mothers womb! He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness from his youth and lived under the Nazarite vow as God’s prophet. One thing for sure is that he had a singleness of mind and purpose and loved Jesus more than his own life.

      I have wondered how much closer I would be today to our Lord if only I had come to Him as a child in my youth. I know that you had some encounters with God even in your youth and knew child like faith from the beginning. Your testimony has been an inspiration to me. I have had to battle my way through so much bad “Christian” teaching to come back to the simplicity of what it means to become as child to enter into our Father’s kingdom. Children do not love and trust because they are taught to, the just DO. To the pure all things are pure. All too often I battle with unbelief and I have been pursuing Christ for almost 50 years!

      Yes, dear Susanne, what is earthly “ministry” compared to being in an relationship with Jesus and our Father and intimately knowing their love?!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Bernie Orr says:

    THE ANGEL’S PROPHECY TO ZACHARIAS ABOUT THE COMING JOHN THE
    BAPTIST: :Luke 1 vs 15-17 ” HE WILL BE GREAT IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD:
    AND SHALL DRINK NEITHER WINE OR STRONG DRINK. HE WILL ALSO BE
    FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT EVEN FROM HIS MOTHER’S WOMB. AND HE
    WILL TURN MANY OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL TO THE LORD THEIR GOD.
    HE WILL GO BEFORE HIM IN THE SPIRIT AND POWER OF ELIJAH: TO TURN
    THE HEART’S OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN AND THE DISOBEDIENT
    TO THE WISDOM OF THE JUST, TO MAKE READY OF THE PEOPLE PREPARED FORTHE LORD”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      THANK YOU, BERNIE!!! That confirms it. John was filled with the Spirit from in His mothers womb. No wonder he was of such a single mind when it came to being God’s forerunner and making the path straight for Jesus’ coming! Thanks for your contribution, dear brother.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bernie Orr says:

    WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT JESUS MEANT” MATT 11 V 11″ ? ” ASSUREDLY I SAY
    TO YOU,AMONG THOSE BORN OF WOMEN THERE HAS NOT RISEN ONE GREATER THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST.; BUT HE WHO IS LEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS GREATER THAN HE.” from above: “HE WAS FULL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”AND THE” LEAST “HAD NOT RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT, YET!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Well, Bernie, I will have to pray about that one. I know that there is much more there than I have heard so far from Bible teachers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Bernie, instead of re-inventing the wheel, here is what George Davis and I wrote on this topic in 2004 on our website:

      Jesus said of John, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11, RSV).

      The key to understanding this passage is found in the two phrases, born of women and in the kingdom. John was an Old Testament Prophet who was killed before the kingdom he preached had fully come. He was once-born, born of a woman but those in the kingdom of the Father are twice born. If they weren’t they could not be in the kingdom. What is born of the flesh is still flesh. What is born of the Spirit is spirit, and one cannot see or enter the kingdom of God unless he is born (Fathered) again (see John 3:3, 5). Those in the kingdom are not just men of God but sons of God, born of the Father, and the least of these are greater than any prophet.

      The prophet Moses was called “the man of God” (Ezra 3:2). He was never referred to as a son of God. None of the prophets received this distinction. No doubt they were great among those born of women, but “to whom of the messengers said He at any time, “My Son art thou! I, today, have begotten Thee’? And again, “I shall be to Him for a Father and He shall be to me for a Son’?” (Hebrews 1:5 CLNT).

      Jesus was the perfect Son, reflecting the exact imprint of God’s very being. The same is true of mature sons. They corporately are called to a higher expression. They are called to be transformed into the image of the Son and to reflect the brightness and image of God the Father. They bring more than a message. They are the message–living epistles!

      Many years ago I, Michael, had prayed, “Father, make me like your Son, so that I only do the works I see you doing and only speak the words I hear you saying.” I had just enough time to think to myself, “Wow, that sure was a righteous prayer,” when I heard the Lord say, “No, my son, that is only the starting point.” Shortly after that I was teaching a home Bible study to a group of saints. After the meeting was over a dear older sister named Mary came up to me and said, “That was a good message you just gave. But God wants you to know that when He is done with you, you will not have to prepare a message.You will be the message!” Over the years of trials and wilderness that He has put me though since, I have never forgotten her words. True transformation only comes by the working of the cross that deals with the propensity to do what we want and speak our minds. Death to this childish behavior is worth it, for the call of God is always upward toward His Pattern Son. I do not say that I have “arrived,” but rather I do see now that it is not about me but about the Message in me. http://www.awildernessvoice.com/YouAreSons.html

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Bernie Orr says:

    MY NOTES SAYS THE “LEAST: HAS “PREVILIGE” These”LEASTS” WILL HAVE
    GREATER CONTACT WITH JESUS SO THEY UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT
    JESUS THAN JOHN DID. John in his prisonment sent some to Jesus to ?
    about Jesus’s ministry. Christ assured him that His ministry was being successful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, we who have His Spirit abiding in us and have ears to hear Him speaking to us “have greater contact with Jesus” than even John the Baptist did. But all too many of us rely on the teachings and traditions of men more than we do on the voice of the Shepherd in us as He speaks to His sheep. The apostle John wrote:

      “I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.”
      (1 John 2:26-27 RSVA)

      Do we dare believe it?

      Like

  8. Ken Dawson says:

    Your point is well taken–forget about yourself–exalt the LAMB–for He is the only worthy one.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. dimple says:

    Thank you, Michael and commentators. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver!
    Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This was a powerful post, Michael. Your statement that John “found his identity in Christ, not in his calling and ministry” was especially significant. In today’s culture we are taught to focus on self. Selflessness is foreign. We see this even in our churches, where membership roles and donations are the viewed as the measures of success.

    I agree with the other readers here who have commented on your own resemblance to John. You are an example to us all.

    Your grateful friend,

    Anna

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Anna, again you are so kind to me, but no way can I hold a candle to John. I have to agree that most of what is called “ministry” today is all about ego and building up a following and earthly kingdoms and some are so brash as to name their organizations after themselves! Can’t you see a big billboard up on the rocky banks of the Jordon proclaiming, “John the Baptist Ministries” with a larger than life picture of him getting a preach on? Yet, this kind of worldly pitchman tactics are totally acceptable in today’s church system. It is as if pride and ego in leadership is some kind of a virtue in the eyes of most Christians. No, to men such as these John’s message was quite clear, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7 RSVA)

      I appreciate you and your loving service to the hurting, Anna. By the way, does your Comcast email addy still work?

      Your back woods friend in Idaho,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Dear Susanne,

        I just found your reply to me written on 1-28-2014! ( https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/let-us-go-on/comment-page-1/#comment-976 ) Yes, my reply is a bit late. At that time I was down and discouraged about my spiritual state and you wrote back to me with such love and encouragement. Now it is my turn to encourage you, dear heart. You wrote,

        “You don’t how much your courageous response has touched my very heart. Also, you have been in prayers before – I have been feeling your pain – and I won’t stop praying for you until you tell me, “Stop it!”

        NO, dear Susanne, I will never ask you to stop praying for me, I KNOW how God answers your prayers and how much love is behind them. So keep praying for me, dear sister!

        Then you wrote,

        “Weakness is something I know very well, too. I often wonder why God uses such a nobody as I am. This reminds me of Tullian Tchividjian who created a wonderful equation. It was

        ‘JESUS + NOTHING = EVERYTHING’

        To me, the nothing is Susanne Schuberth. However, our gracious and merciful God blessed me with making Christ my EVERYTHING.”

        Dear heart, I know how low you have been feeling and I know how our enemy can attack us and make us forget what you just said here. God does and IS using you to touch hundreds of lives. If it was not so you would not be under this attack. Yes Susanne Schuberth is NOTHING, but never forget that JESUS + NOTHING = EVERYTHING!!! Our Daddy has placed YOU in His heavenly equation and He only uses those who have been emptied of themselves and are weak to confound the Strong Man. You are winning this battle against Him by your weakness IN CHRIST. Paul also had a messenger from Satan attacking him and cried out to God to remove it, but he discovered that Father had a purpose even in this,

        “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 KJ2000).

        So, dear sister, don’t let this “thorn” win. You might not be able to feel God in your writings, but WE CAN! YOU are a light that shines into Satan’s darkness. We NEED your part as a member of Christ’s body. We would not be complete in HIM without you!

        Dear Father, we lift up our sister to you and ask you to pour your healing love into her dear heart and heal her of this attack. Hold her close to you and let her know how much you and the rest of us love her. Amen!

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh, Michael, that was sooo encouraging to read for me today! Thanks a million!!! 🙂

    Indeed, I felt your pain back at that time when I would write that comment. And the only thing I could do was pray for you. Today I know it is not “only” praying since if God gives us faith to move mountains, prayer is more important than anything else we could ever “do”.

    Amen to your sweet prayer! I have already been doing a bit better today (until “next attack”… 😛 ).

    As a German perfectionist, I could see that my “old” comment should read,

    “You don’t KNOW how much your courageous response has touched my very heart….”

    Maybe, I will comment again later when I have more time than right now, my dear brother. Still, I have been so touched by your response and I am so grateful for having coming to know YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Bernie Orr says:

    As I meditated on the word: “STRENGTH” My definition is ‘THE POWER OR ABILITY:(FROM CHRIST)TO HELP ONE ACCOMPLISH GOD’S WILL IN ONES LIFE!”
    Paul answered his definition of it by saying he depended on “THE POWER OF
    CHRIST. “(TO DO WHAT GOD CALLED HIM TO DO.)

    Like

  13. Bernie Orr says:

    Phillipians 4 v 13 “I CAN DO ALL THINGS WHICH (STRENGTHENS) ME;”STRENGTHENS” My Bible comments:In general: “TO KNOW AND BELIEVE
    THAT JESUS CHRIST WILL ENABLE (give ability to) YOU TO DO ANYTHING
    HE ASKS OF YOU.
    detail: “IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THIS EMPHASIS IS NOT SO MUCH ON
    ACHIEVEMENT AS THE WILLINGNESS TO ALLOW CHRIST’S POWER TO SUS-
    TAIN IN DIFFICULTY AND SCARCITY. AND TO ENHANCE THE ENJOYMENT
    OF ABUNDANCE AND PROSPERITY. SUCH FAITH IS A STIMULANT TO BELIEVE
    FOR ALL CHRIST’S SUFFICIENCY IN FACING ALL LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES”

    Like

  14. I am waaayyy late, but had to say, I loved this, thanks bro.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Amen! Especially appreciated “He found his identity in Christ, not in his calling and ministry. He didn’t even call himself, ‘Prophet John.'”

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Dear brother, having just read and rejoiced in what the Lord has borne through your branch in this article, I enjoyed surveying your site. In love, may I humbly (and boldly – I too am somewhat like John the Baptist!) offer a suggestion regarding two details which strike my spirit as a unintentionally conflicting with your sentiments expressed herein? (Please know I have Eph. 4:11-13 at heart.) Tha suggestion is this: consider removing the widgets that relay the number of followers and the number of viewers from each country on this blessed Christ-honoring site. (Oh, that was not easy!) True love in Christ to a dear new brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dear Deanna, May I ask how you are “somewhat like John the Baptist?” And also how does having Eph. 4:11-13 at heart manifest in your life?
      You are the first and only person to object to the flag counter on my blog. I don’t see how it has anything to do with who is following it. I guess I am confused. Thank you for your help, my sister.
      Michael

      Like

  17. No reply necessary! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s