Q Who is the friend of the Bridegroom?
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 3 Minutes
ANSWER: The Scriptures use this title once in John 3:29: “The friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.”
The “friend of the bridegroom” in Jesus’ day would be somewhat similar to the best man to the groom today. However, while today the best man is oftentimes just an honorary position, the friend of the bridegroom had very important duties to perform regarding the wedding during Jesus’ day. He needed to be trustworthy and responsible, as he was responsible for making the wedding happen and organizing all the details of the ceremony. He had the honor of arranging the details of the engagement and acted as meditator between the groom and bride (i.e., “before they came together” in Mt. 1:18). This friend would invite the guests and make the proper arrangements. The friend of the groom is said to have hosted the marriage event and provided the reception. Oftentimes, he would even plan the honeymoon and arrange the couple’s first home together.
Who is the Bridegroom?
John the Baptist is referring to himself in John 3:29 as the “friend of the bridegroom,” the groom was Jesus Christ. John saw his role as preparing the way for the Christ (Mark 1:2-3; Luke 1:76), announcing Him to the bride, the nation of Israel, and preparing her for the wedding (Isa. 62:4-5; Jer. 31:32; Hos. 2:19-20; Rev. 19:7-10). John was the friend of the Bridegroom. The groom was Christ, and the bride was Israel. In contrast, we, in the current Age of Grace, are not the Bride of Christ but the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:5; Eph. 1:22-23).
In the John 3 passage, John deflects attention and importance off of himself and on to Christ (vs. 28). The bride did not belong to the friend but to the groom, just as Israel was not John’s but Christ’s (vs. 29). As the wedding day drew near, the friend’s importance would decrease, while the focus and importance of the groom would increase. This was also true of the ministry of John: the significance of John’s ministry would decrease as the ministry of Christ came to the forefront (vs. 30). John was not the central character is Jesus’ story, the Groom Jesus was (and is), for He had the connection to the Father (vs. 35).
John properly recognized his place in the grand plan of God (Mt. 3:11). His place was not to call people to himself, but to announce the coming of the Christ. The joy of the friend of the groom was to serve the groom; this was true of John. He had heard the voice of the Christ and had his joy realized (vs. 29).
While we are not the friend of the bridegroom or the bride today, we still have an important job of representing our Lord well (II Cor. 5:20), telling others His message of salvation (I Cor. 9:22-23), and giving all the attention to the One deserving (II Cor. 10:17).
John the Baptist, Friend of the Bridegroom
In answering the question, John was the friend of the Groom Jesus Christ. As historically the groom’s friend performed his duties out of humble love for the groom, John the Baptist, at the time of his death, fully completed his duties as he arranged the coming of Jesus Christ. As John said these words in the Gospel of John, it was about time for the Groom to take over the duties. John was soon beheaded by Herod (Mt. 14:3-12), knowing he performed his responsibility as the friend of the groom well and having joy at hearing the Groom’s voice and witnessing His Divine verification (Mt. 3:13-17).
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