I shouldn’t have been so nervous. The wedding was definitely not about me. This wedding was, after all, all about my friend and, of course, the bride-to-be. People who serve in these supporting roles such as best man or maid of honor have to realize who they are in relation to the main event. They have to know their place.
John knows his place as well as that of his own disciples. He says in verse 28 of today’s Gospel, “You yourselves bear me witness that I said I’m not the Christ but I’m sent before him.” In his metaphor about the friend of the bridegroom, John the Baptist puts himself in the role of the best man. He says that, in the voice of Jesus, he recognizes the voice of the bridegroom and can present him to His bride, to the crowds, to His church. At this moment, the people leave the friend of the bridegroom and follow Jesus, because they recognize in Him the voice of their bridegroom. For this reason the joy of John is great, “complete joy”. John wants nothing for himself. His mission is to present the bridegroom to the bride. The last sentence summarizes everything: “He must grow greater, I must grow less!” This phrase is also the program for any person who follows Jesus.
John in his characteristic humility exclaims that he is 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 marriage and the wedding feast is used throughout the scriptures to describe God's joy in his people, who are regarded as his bride. As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall our God rejoice over us (Isaiah 62:5). John acts as the best man in arranging the marriage and in making preparations for the marriage feast. John and his disciples rejoice that the Bridegroom has come to make his bride, the church, ready for the marriage feast. We see this fulfilled in the New Jerusalem in the marriage feast of the Lamb and his Bride (Revelation 21-22).
John the Baptist knew his place—his calling—from when he was in the womb of his mother Elizabeth. So he spends his entire earthly existence in the fulfillment of that calling. Unfortunately, today’s Gospel reading is our last recorded public witness of John the Baptist. Soon after this, he is unjustly imprisoned. The Lord then says of him, “I tell you, among those that are born of women, there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” This is high praise from the only begotten Son of God. In almost every respect, it appears that John the Baptist was the Best Man.