Read John 3:23-36 – John Testifies Again About Jesus
Last week, we heard about John’s confession: I am not the Messiah. Today again, we are reminded of these words as John’s disciples come to him, confused that Jesus’ disciples are now also baptising, especially since Jesus and his disciples don’t seem to be following the minute details of ritual washing the way they expected of a religious teacher.
But John doesn’t go along with his disciples’ feelings that John has been given a rough deal or that Jesus is somehow falling short of expectation.
Instead, He tells them that his job is like that of the best man who rejoices when he hears the bridegroom coming. John has been listening and watching and hoping for the Messiah and now He is here.
All through the Old Testament, the idea of God as the husband and Israel as His bride is an image full of depth and rich associations for the Jewish listeners with its messages about tenderness, God’s faithful covenant and ours, sometimes less so, but God promising to redeem us and do away with the shame of our youth. I think for us as well, this is precious imagery and promises.
Now it is amazing the things you can learn on the internet, and some of them may even be true, but I am led to believe that in the Jewish culture, the best man, the friend of the bridegroom, was responsible for arranging the wedding, bringing the couple together, sorting out the practicalities and then, amazingly, for guarding the bride, making sure no false lovers came into the bride chamber.
What a beautiful image of what John’s role is, keeping watch until the Son of God, the rightful bridegroom comes and then to bring the two together.
Close your eyes for just a moment and think about what your ideal spouse would be like. What is important? What would ‘perfect’ look like to you? Have you got your picture in mind, character, temperament and manners? Got it?
How does Jesus measure up to your image of the perfect husband or wife? How does your image measure up to Jesus?
John recognised Jesus and was full of joy, as the shoshben, the best man, who hears the bridegroom’s voice and steps aside from the door he is guarding to let the bridegroom pass him. He knows the voice of the bridegroom. I pray that you may know it too.