Ideally, there are many kinds of joy at a wedding.
There is the joy of the bride and groom, so much in love, yet having preserved the expression of that love for this moment. There is the tearful joy of the parents of the couple, counting the days and years backward to remember the little girl and the little boy. Childhood images are gone forever except in memory and will soon be reflected again in the faces of the children to come from this union.
“Friend of the Bridegroom”
There is also the joy of the friends of the happy couple. John the Baptist referred to himself as the “friend of the Bridegroom.” His was not the spotlight. His role was to stand in the shadow of the husband-to-be. As John joyfully fulfilled this introductory role his followers did not understand. As the focus of the nation shifted from John to Jesus, John’s disciples were afraid for him. If their leader lost face, it somehow felt like a loss for them as well.
A Place of Much Water
When two prophets are abroad in the wilderness preaching and baptizing converts, an unplanned meeting was inevitable. In a place ideal for their ministries both Jesus and John were doing their work; Jesus preaching and His disciples baptizing. Prior to this, the leaders from Jerusalem disputed with the disciples of John about some theological aspect of purification. We are not told what the issue was, but it is easy to imagine the priests would not be pleased that John offered forgiveness for sin without going through the established agents of forgiveness. In the process of reporting this, some of John’s men mentioned that Jesus was preaching nearby.
“Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified — behold,
He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
John’s men were good men. They needed an understanding from John about how to deal with Jesus and His disciples. The natural assumption would be that He was a rival. Most likely, they were ready to fight for the honor due unto their leader.
John rushed to assure his men that He was not jealous of Jesus or His growing popularity. John had never claimed to be Messiah. He had made it clear that he was only the Forerunner. He tried to take the occasion to explain how the call of God worked in someone’s life.
“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”
The Kingdom God is not a place for competition among leaders. Each of us must determine the calling God has given to us and get busy fulfilling that call. We work together in this Kingdom; we do not compete with each other. John reminded them of what he had always said,
“You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but,
‘I have been sent before Him.’”
His men were quiet, each man trying to tamp down his natural competitive instincts. Wasn’t life all about competition? Every man needs an edge… John interrupted their thoughts.
“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.”
Quiet ensued with only the sounds of the wilderness to accompany the diminishing lines of those waiting to be baptized by John.
“Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.”
John smiled the smile of a man whose best friend was getting married.
After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified — behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, 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. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.
Lord Jesus, You have placed a call on my life; You have given me work to do. Help me to never be confused by what You have called others to do. I must take joy in their faithfulness even if they seem to outshine me. Your approval is my heart’s desire, not the applause of others. Help me to be so caught up in what You have called me to do that I can only rejoice in the success of others. I want to be a good team member, Lord, doing my part well and enjoying the fellowship of the team. Amen.
We Will Stand
Words and Music: Russ and Tori Taff
1. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand
Why we pull away from each other so easily
Even though we’re all walking the same road
Yet we build dividing walls between our brothers and ourselves
2. But I, I don’t care what label you may wear
If you believe in Jesus you belong with me
The bond we share is all I care to see
And we can change this world forever
If you will join with me, join and sing
Oh you’re my brother, you’re my sister
So take me by the hand
Together we will work until He comes
There’s no foe that can defeat us
When we’re walking side by side
As long as there is love we will stand
3.The day will come when we will be as one
And with a mighty voice together
We will proclaim that Jesus, Jesus is King
And it will echo through the earth
It will shake the nations and the world will see, see that
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.