Short Meditations in John 3: 28. The Bridegroom
Jn 3:29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
What a nice little picture John paints to convey the truth of himself and Jesus. It like he says, you know what it’s like with a wedding day. There’s the bride who belongs to the bridegroom and she waits for him to come. There’s also the friend of the bridegroom, or best man we would say, and he too waits for the bridegroom to come. They are the main players in the wedding and when the best man hears the voice of his bridegroom coming, he is full of joy. Implied in this is that the bride doesn’t belong to the best man; he’s just there to facilitate the coming together of the two of them.
John the Baptist paints this picture and then, speaking of the pleasure or joy that the best man has when he hears his friend the bridegroom coming, simply says. “That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” How lovely, how simple, what a good way of illustrating that he knows his place and he is really happy in it.
Remember, this is all happening because John’s disciples, and maybe others, have come indirectly grumbling about Jesus’ ministry which is detracting from theirs. The bridegroom is obviously Jesus and the bride is clearly all the people who respond to Him. John himself is simply the best man or the friend of the bridegroom and he’s simply there to herald the bridegroom and once he hears his voice, sees Jesus in the full flow of exercising his ministry, John is happy and in fact is delighted because his role is now completed.
Again we see that John is quite clear about his role, about his ministry. When, later on we find, “When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Mt 11:2,3) it leads us to suppose that either the negative circumstances of being in prison had dented John’s assurance of their respective roles, or he was simply sending his disciples to encounter Jesus. Jesus’ response is to either reassure John or provide these disciples with grounds for them to believe in him as well: “Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (11:4,5)
John’s present assessment of himself and Jesus is spot on accurate for his ministry had simply been one of proclamation whereas Jesus’ ministry was one of demonstrating the presence of the kingdom of God and in that sense was radically different.