In John 3:27-30, we see John the Baptist responding to some of his disciples about why many people are going to follow Jesus and being baptized rather than being baptized by John the Baptist:
27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
There is much significance in John the Baptist’s words -- that anything we receive is given from heaven, that John wants to make much of Jesus rather than himself, that his joy is complete in Christ, and that he desires to decrease his own influence so that the influence of Christ can increase. Each of us as believers should have the same hope, joy, and desires. For now, we will zoom in on John the Baptist’s description of Christ as the bridegroom.
What does it mean that Christ is the bridegroom and is the one who has the bride? We see in the Old Testament that God is called the bridegroom and His people Israel are called the bride.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
We also see God’s beautiful promise in Hosea to betroth His people to Himself in mercy, which is also wedding language.
18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. - Hosea 2:18-20
God is the bridegroom and His people are the bride. Just as Israel was described as the bride in the Old Testament, the Church, God’s redeemed people, are also described as the bride of Christ in the New Testament.
Paul’s familiar verses of Ephesians 5:25-30 exhorting husbands to love their wives sacrificially gives the picture of Christ and His bride. We often jump to applying these verses to our own marriages, but let us step back and look at what these verses say about Christ and His ultimate love for the Church. From the passage we see that Christ loves the Church by being sacrificial, sanctifying her, cleansing her with the word to make her holy, nourishing her, and cherishing her. Christ is making His bride righteous and ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb, as we see in Revelation.
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
- Revelation 19:6-8
Therefore, when John the Baptist’s followers are asking about people following Jesus rather than him, John the Baptist gives the perfect response, “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom” and “He must increase, I must decrease.” God’s redeemed people were following Jesus, the Lamb of God, and John the Baptist recognized that there is no one greater that they could follow. His intention was to point all people to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).
We can rejoice today that as believers, we are the Bride of Christ! He gave Himself sacrificially to redeem us, the Holy Spirit is sanctifying us, He is cleansing us and making us holy, nourishing us, and cherishing us. We can walk daily in the assurance that we will be there at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and that like John the Baptist, Jesus is our ultimate joy. Our desire should be for Him to increase in our lives and in our city, and for our own selfishness to decrease. If Jesus is not your ultimate joy and treasure, you can repent and believe the Gospel, His life-changing work, today. Please email email@example.com with questions or for more information.
Post by Peggy Starling