GOSPEL READING: John 3:22-30
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been put in prison. 25 Now a discussion arose between John’s disciples and a Jew over purifying. 26 And they came to John, and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”Meditation: Do you know the joy of the Lord? When some friends of John the Baptist complain that all the people are now going to Jesus, John in his characteristic humility exclaimed that he was not the Messiah but only the messenger sent to prepare his way. John describes the Messiah as the Bridegroom and himself as the friend of the Bridegroom. The image of the groom delighting in his bride and the joy of the wedding feast is used in the Bible as a sign or symbol of God’s covenant love and joy in being united with his people, whom he calls his bride. As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5).
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit John recognized that Jesus was the anointed Messiah, sent from the Father in heaven to reunite his people to himself. John acted as the groom’s best man in arranging the marriage and in making preparations for the marriage feast. John and his disciples now rejoice that the Bridegroom has come to make his bride, the people of God, ready for the marriage feast. The New Testament tells us that Christ’s blood which was shed upon the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, seals us in a new covenant between God and his people. The Book of Revelation depicts the final fulfillment and consummation of this new covenant relationship at the marriage feast of the “Lamb and his Bride” in the New Jerusalem (see Revelations 21-22). Do you look with joyful anticipation to the consummation of God’s plan for his people at the end of the ages?
Lord Jesus, may I never forget the love you have poured out for me when you shed your blood upon the Cross of Calvary for my sins and for my salvation. May your love always grow in me and your hope fill me with joy as I wait for your return in glory when all of your people will be fully united with you at your heavenly banquet feast in the New Jerusalem.