"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 So this joy of mine has been made full.John 3:29(NASB)
Jesus identified John the Baptist as the greatest of all prophets in the Old Testament. Many men of God prophesied of the coming of the Messiah, Who would come and set up His kingdom on earth, but John had the singular privilege of proclaiming that the Messiah had arrived! The King of Glory had come, as foretold, and John was the voice that proclaimed His coming. YES, Jesus had at last been sent to set up God's kingdom on earth.
"Repent" John shouted, "for the kingdom of heaven is HERE." He called the nation to repentance because the King of Righteousness had arrived to set up the promised kingdom of God, as had been foretold. He came to fulfil all that had been promised of old, and John was a man with a magnetic personality and people flocked to him for his baptism of repentance.
During his ministry, John gathered large numbers of followers who were passionately loyal to him, but some became concerned that Jesus was attracting people away from John's ministry. Before His baptism Jesus had been a follower of John, but after His baptism and testing in the wilderness, Jesus began His own ministry. The Baptist had testified to priest and people alike, that Jesus was the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.
John knew that Jesus was the beloved Son of God Who had come to save His people from their sins. While John was outwardly successful, this humble servant of the Lord, continued to point his followers to Christ, proclaiming, "He must increase, but I must decrease." John was simply Christ's forerunner, who must diminish in importance. He was nothing more than a voice in the wilderness called to prepare the way of the Lord, and yet Jesus identified this man as the greatest of all prophets, born of women.
While John continued to proclaim his own baptism of repentance to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, he knew that the baton he had been carrying had been handed to the Lord Jesus. While he continued to baptise with water unto repentance, John had faithfully prepared the way of the Lord and taught that Jesus would baptise those who believe in Him with the Holy Spirit... while those who would not believe would receive the fiery baptism of judgement.
The face of the nation had to turn in a different direction and the Holy Spirit caused increasing numbers to go after Jesus, causing John to remind his concerned followers, by saying, "I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him." John's ministry may have started in a dramatic way, but he was not to be the focus of attention. He reminded his disciples that he KNEW who Christ was. He knew that JESUS was the One to whom they must all turn, and he pointed them all in His direction.
In the midst of his declining ministry, and as a comfort to his distressed disciples, John gave the most beautiful explanation of his relationship to Jesus. John was the friend of the Bridegroom but Jesus was the King of glory Who had come for His Bride. "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," John explained, "this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."
John was faithful in his ministry. Even when some of his disciples deserted him to follow Jesus, he did not give up, but continued to carry out the good work that God had prepared for him to do. He did not allow discouragement to overtake him, when Jesus commanded a larger following than he, nor did he try to hold on to the few disciples who remained loyal to him. Rather than express regret that his ministry was dwindling, John was filled with joy that the Lord Jesus was apparently succeeding in His work for the Father.
John was the prophet of the Most High, who was sent to Israel to announce the arrival of their Messiah, and he likened himself to the best man at a wedding. He pointed to Jesus as the Bridegroom and those who would believe in Him as His Bride. John's responsibility was to make sure the Bride was pure and to bring her to the Bridegroom. He was to bring repentant Israel to their Messiah. He was to turn the hearts of the people back to God. John was to introduce the repentant people of God to their promised Saviour.
Throughout the Old Testament, Israel had been identified as the 'Bride' of Jehovah, and John had the privilege and responsibility of bringing the Bride (repentant Israel) to her promised Bridegroom (Jesus). When John proclaimed that Jesus was the Bridegroom, he was proclaiming that Jesus is God - the same God Who created the world - the same Jehovah, Who redeemed Israel from Egypt and made a covenant with His people.
Sadly, Israel as a nation did not respond to John's message. Their rejection of their Messiah caused the Baptist's ministry to be cut short and Christ's kingdom to be postponed, until a new generation of Israelites would welcome Him. However, ALL who believe in Christ were given the right to become Sons of God.
All who believe have the privilege of becoming part of the Bride of Christ, as members of the Church. By God's grace, Israel's rejection of their Bridegroom caused those that were outside of the commonwealth of Israel to be brought into the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd - Jew and Gentile alike. Praise God that we who believe are part of the Bride of Christ and Jesus is coming any day to take us to be with Himself.
But Jesus is still Israel's horn of salvation, Who will save His people from their sin at the end of the Great Tribulation, when HE returns in power and great glory to set up His millennial kingdom and be crowned King of Israel and Saviour of the world.
Heavenly Father, what a thrill to realise that because I believe in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His sacrificial work on the Cross, I have been given the right to become Your child and have been made a member of His mystic Body and am part of His spiritual Bride. As I reflect on the joy that servants, like John the Baptist, expressed in recognising Jesus as the beloved Son of God, Who takes away the sin of the world, it fills me with wonder and awe at Your faithfulness to both Israel and Your great love of the Church. Just as John rejoiced to point people to the Bridegroom, so I rejoice that the day is coming when all Israel will be saved, when they repent of their sin nationally, and call out to the Lord Jesus for their own salvation. Great is Your faithfulness. Praise Your holy name, AMEN.