Wedding season has certainly been upon SMR for the past couple of months. In fact, twice this August I was a best man for a wedding. This isn’t the first time I’d been involved in a wedding, either as a groomsman or a best man, but the sheer volume of weddings this season has forced me to reflect on marriage as a whole and on the role of the best man in particular. The scriptures speak of marriage as a picture of Christ and the Church and with that analogy in mind, it isn’t hard to see why John the Baptist is the ideal best man.
During John’s ministry, he amassed his own following of disciples and after baptizing Jesus, one of them reports to John that Jesus has begun baptizing others. It appears that the disciple expects John to view Jesus as competition, instead he says “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one 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 complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:28-30). John rightly understands his role to be the one who declares the glory of the bridegroom, directing attention away from himself and towards Christ.
As a best man, it became my role and my joy to serve Chris, Brett and their new wives on their wedding day and to declare to all of the guests how wonderful they are as people and how beautiful their love is. I’ve been told that I delivered good toasts for each of them, and I believe that this approach is why. Too often, best man speeches can be bogged down with inside jokes and overly long stories that ultimately make the speech about the best man. However, while I did want to be perceived as a good speaker, be funny and interesting, ultimately my goal was to convince everyone else in the room to love the bride and groom as much as I did.
Every marriage, rightly understood, points to Christ’s love for the church. The husband’s sacrificial love, protection and leadership represent Christ’s love for His people while the wife’s love and graceful submission represents the church’s love and submission to Christ. In this wonderful living allegory of the gospel, I was blessed to play the role of the herald of the bridegroom. John the Baptist helped to show me how not to seek my own glory but to point to and rest in Christ’s, just as every husband and wife must learn that even on their own wedding day, all glory must belong to Christ. After all, we must decrease but He must increase.
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