I want to continue a blog thought I started a few days ago on what it means to be a great servant of the Lord. John the Baptist was considered to be the greatest servant of God in history. Jesus said of him, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” John said about himself, “I am not worthy to even untie Jesus’ sandals.” Did John know anything different about the Lord than we do today? I don’t think so!
Here is the question you need to ask yourself… Could you personally be Jesus’ best man? Even if you are a “lady“, I still want you to ask yourself this question. This is how John saw himself and his ministry. He saw himself as an intimate friend of the groom. Listen to his own description…
I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. John 3:28-29
John could have talked about being Jesus’ cousin through Mary, or about how he was the last prophet of the Old Testament. Instead, he used a word picture which emphasized a position of service. John saw himself as Jesus’ “best man.”
The “friend of the groom” played an important role in the first century Jewish wedding ceremony. The best man negotiated on behalf of the perspective groom and his future father-in-law. Contractually the best man served as mediator. In other words, he was someone who looked out for the groom’s best interests! John saw himself in this position. He was looking out for Jesus’ best interests.
An ironic event happened to the best man on the way to the altar. The “best” man must become the “least” man at the wedding ceremony. Once his job was complete, he willingly and graciously faded from the scene. If he did his job correctly and the couple were wedded, then he was truly the best man for the job. He had a prominent place and a very important job, but he was not center of attention.
So when John’s disciples brought him news that Jesus’ ministry was succeeding his and his was fading, it didn’t cause him to fall into a major depressive episode. This wasn’t bad news, but good news. His job as best man was a success. No one else may know or understand. John was now to take a subservient position to Jesus. John was a success prior and now afterward. By the way, sometimes choosing to allow your ministry to fade, which results in your head being chopped off, is not the ideal ministry end.
A little country boy was fishing with a makeshift pole, but he was catching fish! All this didn’t go unnoticed by a city dweller sitting close by him. This city fellow had the finest fishing tackle, but was having no success at all. He decided to ask the country boy about his success. The boy replied, “The secret of it all is that I keep myself out of sight.”
John understood this principle. When it came time for him to fade away, he did so with grace. He didn’t need the limelight to be successful. I think we struggle with our position in the Lord sometimes because we forget our first calling… to be a “friend of the groom.” The word here for “friend” is the same word for “brotherly love.” This is what motivates great servants to service Jesus — a genuine, loving, and intimate relationship with the Lord. If you need some motivation to serve Jesus with a genuine heart, return once again to your first love.