Here is a short (but great!) reflection of one of our discussions during the Cor Deo Women’s Program back in February. Thanks to Gretchen for sharing!
During our walk-through of the Gospel of John during this year’s Cor Deo Women’s Programme, we were quite moved by the heart of John the Baptist towards Jesus. While he may seem a somewhat enigmatic figure with his clothing of camel hair and diet of locusts (thus our affectionate nickname “Hippy Best Man”), we can learn much from his example.
In the opening chapter, John the Baptist is questioned about whether he is Elijah, or perhaps the Prophet promised back in Deuteronomy, or even the Messiah. John’s response is that he is none of those, but rather, that he is preparing the way for the one who is coming after him, “the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to tie.” The very next day, John the Baptist sees Jesus and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” It’s as if he’s holding up a big neon arrow, pointing at Jesus, and saying, “This is the guy I told you about!”
A few chapters later, in John 3, John the Baptist’s disciples express concern about the fact that people are leaving him and going to Jesus. Instead of frantically trying to hold onto his waning popularity, John launches into a discourse about weddings. He tells his disciples that the one who has the bride is the bridegroom. In other words, Jesus is the bridegroom who has come to claim his Bride, and as the bridegroom’s friend, John the Baptist is happy about that! Further, in response to seeing Jesus gathering his Bride, he says, “Therefore this joy of mine is complete. He must increase, I must decrease.”
Imagine for a moment that you are at a wedding. The bride is dressed in her beautiful gown. The groom is in his tuxedo, waiting at the end of the aisle for his bride to reach him. The wedding march begins, and the bride begins to make her way towards the groom. Then, out of the blue, the best man—the guy who is presumably a good friend of the groom—begins to try to catch the attention of the bride. Although at first she had her eyes fixed on the groom, they are now being drawn to the best man. Although he is standing right next to the groom, the best man is now flexing his muscles, winking, and smiling widely, as though to say, “Look at me! I’m so handsome! I’m a much better catch than the groom you’re about to marry!”
Now, obviously, that’s an exaggerated picture. Yet, can you imagine the horror if, even subtly, the best man was trying to attract the attention of the bride at a wedding? We would consider him a rascal and no friend of the groom at all! But John the Baptist isn’t like that. He comes to Jesus’ Bride and says “He is greater than I am. I rejoice to hear his voice. He is the one to whom the Bride belongs. He must be the focus, not I.” John the Baptist is a noble best man and a true disciple. As such, his desire is that the eyes of the Bride be fixed only on Jesus.
Even in a Christian context, we can sometimes get caught up in people who seem to have super faith, extraordinary life stories, or apparent celebrity status. Yet as I consider John the Baptist’s example, I wonder. Do I live my life in such a way as to point others to Jesus? Do those who need Christ see in me a neon sign that says, “Look to Jesus!”? For those who are already part of the Bride of Christ, do my words, my relationships, and my priorities, speak of my love for Him and serve as an invitation to others to love Him more?
John the Baptist shows us what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus. As he lived out his mission, he was not concerned with his own popularity, his own reputation, or even his own life. His sole aim was to point others to Christ. Oh, how I long to be like this “Hippy Best Man.”