Always a groomsman, never the Groom. That is John’s vocation. Among those born of the earth, he is the best man, but he is not the Christ. He is not that true Light which shines upon the Bride and makes her radiant and beautiful.
John’s voice heralds the Coming One, the Word-made-Flesh, at whose speaking death gives way to life. That One is the Bridegroom, the Son of God, sent by the Father from heaven to court His Bride, to call her to Himself, to cleanse and clothe her with His righteousness, and to consummate His marriage to her in both body and soul, so that not even death shall ever separate her from Him.
It is to this union of Christ Jesus and His Bride, the Church, that every earthly marriage testifies. Husband, love your wife, therefore; forgive her sins, give yourself to her, and live your life for her benefit. Woman, likewise, love and serve your husband; submit to him in faith, for Jesus’ sake.
Receive the spouse that God the Lord has given you, and be content. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife or husband, but cherish the one whom Christ has given you in love. Or, if you have not received an earthly bride or groom, be content with Christ Jesus and cling to Him by faith.
Each of you, let all your thoughts, words, and actions be chaste and pure, unselfish, and charitable, as your dear Lord Jesus Christ is toward you in all things. For He is your heavenly Bridegroom, and by the washing of the water with His Word you belong to Him as a member of His holy Bride. In His Body and His Blood, you are one flesh with Him. You, therefore, be holy, as He is holy.
You have nothing at all apart from Him — that is, nothing but divine wrath, condemnation, and eternal death. But in Him, you have all good things, everything pertaining to life and godliness. For the Father has set His seal upon His Son, not only from eternity, but also in His own flesh: in the waters of the Jordan, upon the holy Mountain, and in the Resurrection of the Crucified One.
This Man, the Bridegroom come down from heaven, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, He is the beloved Son. All that belongs to the Father is His. He has received the Spirit without measure, also in His flesh and blood upon the earth, in order to pour out His Holy Spirit generously and without measure upon you. He has done so in the heavenly washing of your Baptism; and He does so for you here also, in His Holy Supper, at the festal board of His Altar.
He also does so freely, daily, and richly in His Word of forgiveness. He does so because He loves you. He has pledged Himself to you, bound Himself to you, and given Himself for you forever.
As you belong to such a beloved Bride of Christ, as one whom He has baptized to be a member of His Holy Christian Church, so do you belong among the true daughters of Zion, the daughters of Jerusalem. The Father’s Son is your true Husband. Therefore, His Father is your true Father. His home and His inheritance are yours. And as He increases, so are you also exalted in Him.
Dearly beloved, be awake and alert, and wait upon your Bridegroom. For He is coming soon to call you from this vale of tears to Himself — to your true home in heaven. He comes to carry you, body and soul, over that threshold — through the waters of the Jordan into Paradise forever.
Listen for His Voice. He speaks to you even now by the mouth of His friend, His groomsman at this Altar. It is His own Voice which speaks to you in love. Consider what He says, and rejoice: “Take, eat. Drink.” Receive these gifts Christ freely gives. Believe His Word. Believe also in Him, and have eternal life. So shall your joy be made full in the Feast of His Body and His Blood.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.