Jesus at the Wedding, Jesus the Bridegoom

Today I am preaching at the wedding of a good friend. The text I am planning to preach is John 3:22-31–John the Baptist’s declaration about the supreme excellence of Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom. As I was preparing this sermon, and thinking through the context of John’s Gospel, two things struck me. First, Jesus had just recently manifested His glory, by performing His first miracle, at a wedding of all places. This seems to be significant in regard to John’s statement about Jesus being the true Bridegroom. Iain Campbell, in his excellent article Union with the Bridegroom notes:
Jesus remained celibate all his life, in spite of the fact that the Old Testament never insisted on celibacy as a requirement for prophetic ministry. On the contrary, Hosea’s marriage, for example, was an integral part of the prophetic revelation through him. Yet marriage figures prominently in the sayings and parables of Jesus, with parables such as that of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14) and the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) drawing on social convention. Especially in the latter, the appearance of the bridegroom is the heart of the analogy, paralleling the second coming of Jesus himself.

More than that, John the Baptist explicitly describes himself as the bridegroom’s friend (John 3:29). The celibate Baptist rejoices in the voice of his celibate Saviour, whom he names as both Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36) and bridegroom. In between, Jesus displays his glory by performing his first miracle at a wedding (John 2:1-11).

These are not incidental references, particularly since John will draw on this marriage theme richly as the New Testament canon moves towards the denouement of the redemptive history. Indeed, it is singularly interesting that in the writings of John, Jesus’s glory is displayed first at a wedding, and finally at a wedding, at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The second thing I thought about was the way in which John speaks of Jesus in relation to His people in the fourth Gospel. The apostle refers to himself, time and time again, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Far from establishing some kind of exclusive relationship with Jesus by the use of this title, John classifies himself as he does others who belong to Jesus. At the introduction of the account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus John writes, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” Just before this statement John explains that “the sisters sent to Him [Jesus] saying, “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.” Mary and Martha appealed to the love of Jesus for their brother. The apostle John then appeals to Jesus’ love for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Finally, at the introduction of the Upper Room discourse in john 13, John writes, “Now before the feast of passover, when Jesus knew His hour had come that He should depart from the world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

Jesus Christ loves each and everyone of His people. He loved them in eternity and He loved them to the end–even to the point of death on the cross. He continues to love them and will be their Bridegroom for all eternity. Whenever we are tempted to look at others who seem to have a deeper, loving relationship with the Lord we should remember what Jesus said to Peter as he asked what would happen to “the disciples whom Jesus loved” who had leaned on Jesus’ breast. Jesus did not tell Peter that He loved John more. He turned to Peter and said, “you follow me.” We need to remember that each and every believer make up the Bride of Christ, and therefore, each and every believer is loved by Him, and called to follow after Him. When you start to wonder if He loves others more than, remember what John said about Mary, Martha and Lazarus; remember that Jesus “loved His own who were in the world and He loved them to the end;” and remember that “He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom.”

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