Summary: All about preparing for heaven.
There are so many details with weddings. When my daughter Jennifer got married, we thought we had it all in control. On the way to the ceremony, 12 miles from the house, Jenn let out a scream -- Dad...we forgot the Unity Candle! We almost had an accident on the bridge.
One couple opted for a garden ceremony. They wanted the Unity Candle, but the forecast was for wind. We came up with the idea of two wine glasses, which they would pour into a third, symbolizing the pouring of their lives together. Nobody thought to tell the groom to use water. He used real wine...sweet wine. It was a hot August day. When we came to the pouring point, the bride, groom and I looked down at three glasses covered with 9,000 drunk flies.
John the Baptist was the best man -- the friend of the bridegroom, Jesus. His part of the details was making sure the invitations got out on time. Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand...was his invitation message.
This passage is about more than who baptized whom. It tells us what the bridegroom (Jesus) expects the bride (all believers, the church), to bring to the wedding. If you are part of the bride of Christ, please notice those things you need to prepare...
After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. John 3:22-27
The disciples of John were quite possessive of the following they had built up. They seemed to be worried that Jesus was developing a bigger mailing list. Later, after the resurrection, we find some of the Baptist’s followers still promoting his teaching. This was proof that while they didn’t accept Jesus, they never heard John either.
John understood that he, and his message, were not the priority. The action at a wedding isn’t the invitation -- it’s at the altar! John understood the priority of having people turn to Jesus.
A young woman college student wrote about priorities, Shortly after I went away to college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, my mother replaced her old car with a new one. Home one weekend, I borrowed her car for an evening out with friends. Returning late, I was surprised to find my mother still up. Mom, I chided, I’m in college now! You don’t have to wait up for me! Her Mom answered, I wasn’t waiting up for you, I was waiting for my car. It’s never been out past midnight before.
It is a good thing for us to keep in mind that whatever we do in our homes, occupations, community and church, Jesus is the focus. He is the priority. There’s no room for jealousy or possessiveness in the Kingdom. Besides priority there is..
Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice:
this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:28-30
Humility is one of those things that, once you’re certain you have it -- you don’t! Whales communicate with each other. One whale sounded the following caution to his dear mate: Better watch it; when you get to the top and start to blow, that’s when you get harpooned!
Winston Churchill knew that public favor was no reason to get proud. One time he gave a speech and 10,000 people came. A friend asked, Winston, aren’t you impressed that 10,000 people came to hear you speak?
He said, Not really. 100,000 would come to see me hang. It’s a wise man who knows how to know himself.
John’s willingness to have Jesus take center-stage is one huge contrast with his natural character. Yet, it is consistent with true humility. Here is a man who could look King Herod square in the face and call him an adulterous murderer (He killed his own brother to steal his wife, Herodia for himself -- Matthew 14). The Pharisees and Sadducees came to John for baptism and he called them a generation of vipers, and sent them away. The man wore itchy camel skins and ate bugs. Yet, we hear him saying, it’s time for me to back off -- Jesus should increase.