The Friend of Christ: John 3:23-36

Focus Passage: John 3:23-36 (NCV)

23 John was also baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. People were going there to be baptized. 24 (This was before John was put into prison.)

25 Some of John’s followers had an argument with a Jew about religious washing. 26 So they came to John and said, “Teacher, remember the man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you spoke about so much? He is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

27 John answered, “A man can get only what God gives him. 28 You yourselves heard me say, ‘I am not the Christ, but I am the one sent to prepare the way for him.’ 29 The bride belongs only to the bridegroom. But the friend who helps the bridegroom stands by and listens to him. He is thrilled that he gets to hear the bridegroom’s voice. In the same way, I am really happy. 30 He must become greater, and I must become less important.

31 “The One who comes from above is greater than all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and talks about things on the earth. But the One who comes from heaven is greater than all. 32 He tells what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts what he says. 33 Whoever accepts what he says has proven that God is true. 34 The One whom God sent speaks the words of God, because God gives him the Spirit fully. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given him power over everything. 36 Those who believe in the Son have eternal life, but those who do not obey the Son will never have life. God’s anger stays on them.”

Read John 3:23-36 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

If there was anyone who had a great and important mission, it was John the Baptizer. Not only was his mission prophesied about before his birth, he was also “the guy” to prepare the Jewish nation for the Messiah.

And it was a successful mission; perhaps even too successful since people seemed to keep asking him whether he was the messiah.

In this passage, and in my mind’s eye, every time John received this question, he responded in a similar way: “I am not the Christ, but I am the one sent to prepare the way for him.” (v. 28b)

In this passage, after Jesus had began His ministry, John repeatedly directs and points people to Him. He even says, “The bride belongs only to the bridegroom. But the friend who helps the bridegroom stands by and listens to him. He is thrilled that he gets to hear the bridegroom’s voice. In the same way, I am really happy. He must become greater, and I must become less important.” (v. 29-30)

This prompts me to wonder if Jesus’ followers today are called to a similar role. While as a group, we are called the “bride” of Christ, I wonder if we are also called to be friends of the bridegroom as well. In a typical marriage, the bride would ideally be friends with the bridegroom before the marriage, and I hope that the “bride” of Christ is friends with Him before the ceremony or that would be an awkward marriage.

If we are called to be friends of Christ like John was, then it is our responsibility to point people to Him like John did. While Jesus has not returned yet, each of us has an opportunity, like John, to point people to Jesus – and ultimately become part of the church that will be known throughout the universe as Jesus’ “bride”.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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