Sermon – The Groom Who Cleanses (John 3:22 – 3:30) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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John 2021

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The Book of John was authored by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, John, who features in the gospel. John makes his mission for writing the book plain in 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He details the many words and claims of Jesus, as well as the various responses from those listening; in either faith, amazement, caution or rejection. Listen as Cornerstone preachers unpack the narrative and invite us to reflect on our own response to Jesus.

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Sermon 11 of 58

The Groom Who Cleanses

Ben Read, John 3:22 - 3:30, 27 February 2022

Ben continues our series in John’s gospel by preaching to us from John 3:22-30. In this passage we see John’s amazing response to his disciples’ complaint about Jesus baptising as well as him, and what it means for us today.

John 3:22 - 3:30

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it 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 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. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

We're going to be reading John chapter 3. This is 22 to 26. 36. If you have a bible, please please do turn to John 3.

John chapter 3 was 22. After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judeian countryside, where he spent some time with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aynon near Sylem because there was plenty of water and people were coming and being baptized This was before John was put in prison. An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain dew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, rabbi, That man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the 1 you testified about, look, he's baptizing and everyone is going to him.

To this, John replied, a person can receive only what has given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said I am not the Messiah, but I'm 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. He must become greater, I must become less.

The 1 who comes from above is above all, The 1 who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as 1 from the earth. The 1 who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no 1 accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the 1 whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God, for God gives the spirit without limit.

The father loves the son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the in the son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the son will not see life for God's wrath remains on them. Ben is going to come up in a moment and He's gonna open up God's word to us. Before he does, let me pray. Lord God and heavenly father.

We praise you for your word. We praise you that we live in a nation where your word is so easily accessible to us where we can come and gather in the name of the lord Jesus. We pray now for Ben Lord that you would you would be with him by your spirit. Would you empower him to to speak your good news. And to our hearts, lord, would it would it be exactly that?

Would it be transformative good news as we as we gaze upon the Lord Jesus Christ? As we gaze upon our gospel that is Jesus. Would we be transformed into his likeness more and more? We pray these things for your glory, our men. Here we are.

Keep your bibles open. Please, in John chapter 3, because we're gonna be looking at those passages that we had read. Before we sang. And if you remember if you were here a couple of weeks ago, you'll remember that Tom preached about nicodemus. And we were looking at those verses at the beginning of chapter 3.

And we were told, if you look back at verse 2, we're told that nicodemus came to Jesus at night was a detail. And we know from John's gospel that Jesus did many things, lots of different things happened to him, But the things that are written for us are written for a purpose that we might believe. So there's no detail in John's gospel that is sort of by the by. Everything is there for us to pay attention to. So the attention the thing that John's drawing our attention to with that detail that he came at night is he's trying to paint a picture of kind of like a hiddenness of nicodemus coming to Jesus.

We were told he's a member of the Jewish ruling council So he's almost like he's swapping sides coming to Jesus. There's an espionageiness about it. It's the cover of darkness. He's leaving 1 side and he's going sort of behind enemy lines to speak to Jesus and to find out more about him. And he has that that really wonderful conversation with Jesus where Jesus tells him you must be born again.

It's not also then an accident that John moves into talking about light and dark. He loves using that language of light and darkness You see that in verse 19 if you have a look. It says, this is the verdict. Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil, and then verse 21, but whoever lives by the truth comes into the light. It's like a coming into the light.

So ironically, even though nicodemus comes under the cover of darkness, he comes at nighttime. He comes when it's pitch black outside. He's actually stepping into the light as he comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. That's just a wonderful picture to think about, isn't it? And if you if you flick back to chapter 1, if you just go back a page, you'll see John just relishing this this language describing Jesus.

If you look at verse 4, in him as Jesus was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. That light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And then he uses the word light a couple more times. The light of Jesus has come, John is announcing, and it shines in this dark world. And boy isn't this a dark world.

You know, Myanmar, all over the world, Ukraine, what's going on there, it's a dark world. And that is the same dark world. This is the same dark world that Jesus came into as a light. To show us more, to show us something glorious, to say there is a a kingdom of light, and I've come to bring it. So the world needs this light and the darkness hasn't overcome it.

And instead, actually, in the darkness, like nicodemus, people are starting to come into the light, and that's happening all over the place. There's 4400000.0 Christians. In a in a country that's suppressing them. Those are people who've come into the light and that's wonderful. And this kind of topic of people stepping into the light is the topic of the passage that we had read.

That's kind of what's going on. People are starting to flock to Jesus in larger numbers, We saw a small example of it in nicodemus, and now lots of people are coming. And that's really exciting. But in the passage, we see 3 kind of different responses to what's going on. The first thing we're gonna see is the complaint of John's disciples about this.

People are stepping into the light. And John the Baptist has his own bunch of disciples, and they complain about it, and we'll see that. The second thing we're going to see is John's magnificent reply to them. Is brilliant. We'll enjoy it when we get to it.

And the third thing is we're going to see where are we? Where are we standing? When people are coming to Jesus, actually what is our reaction in our response, and that will be interesting to look at as well. So let's go straight ahead. First point, the complaint of John's disciples.

In Mark's Gospel, don't turn to its fine. But in Mark's Gospel, we read in the first chapter that the whole Judeian countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to John the Baptist. And he baptized them. As a as a staggering sort of sentence, I've not I don't know if it means everyone, but I guess it's trying to give the sense like, look, this was happening all over the place. The whole Judean countryside were talking about him.

Everyone in Jerusalem were, like, talking about him, going out to see what was going on, We know that the the pharisees sent people to come and question him, so it's a very exciting time for John The Baptist. He kind of has the monopoly at that time. Everyone is going to him. If he was a food truck, He'd be the only food truck out there, and the queue would be miles long. And people in Jerusalem would be saying stuff these restaurants, there's an amazing food truck a true truck in the in the countryside.

Let's go there. Food truck. I said it wrong. Truck. So they've heard there's something good out near the Jordan.

Let's go and find out what's going what's going on. And that is an exciting thing. That was an exciting thing, especially for John's disciples. I don't know at what point they became his disciples. Maybe the first ones became his disciples or maybe he already had some.

I'm not entirely sure. But that's exciting for them because there's queues of people to be baptized by John. You know, more and more people are flocking. And as I said, the pharisees are getting so worked up by it. That's always good.

It's good to annoy a pharisee, isn't it? If you're annoying a pharisee, you're probably doing something right. So the pharisees are sending people to come interrogate John and say, who are you? Why are you doing this? It's very, very exciting.

But now, Jesus is on the same turf. And he's doing the same thing. So verse 22 of John chapter 3, that we had read tonight. After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into, where? The Judeian countryside, where he spent some time with them and baptized.

And John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salem because there was plenty of water. And people were coming and being baptized. So now, I was just going to say John, no. Yes. Now Jesus and John are both baptizing.

They both have these food trucks out. And actually, I know we're flicking around a lot, and it will settle down. But if you flick forward to chapter 4, look at verse 2, you'll see actually that it's not Jesus himself who's who's doing the baptizing, it's his disciples, but it's sort of under his instruction. So Jesus is baptizing sort of via his disciples. But that's what's going on.

That's the set That's that's the scene that has been set for the passage that we're looking at tonight. John and Jesus are both baptizing. And then we learn that John's disciples are obviously quite a fiery bunch. Because in verse 25, you'll read it says, an argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. That's incredibly vague, isn't it?

We don't really know what the matter was. We're not even told who the matter was with. It was with a certain due. But, ceremonial washing as a thing, was washing to be made right with God. That's what ceremonial washing sort of means.

It means you're cleansed from something. That had previously made you dirty in in God's eyes. An example of this was if you'd had a skin condition I mean, leprosy was quite an extreme 1, but if you had a lesser skin condition, you were seen as unclean for a period of time. And then if you recovered from it, you had to shave your head and go and wash yourself and that was ceremonially washing yourself sort of clean figuratively of the of the illness and you were clean again. And you could be with God's people, you could be in communion with God.

So that's sort of what the argument was about, but we don't know the the particulars. Now, but with John preaching a a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, you can see how a Jew who's got the levitical law in his mind might sort of have a sparky argument. Because he's like, you don't repent to be to be washed clean. You go and shave your head and wash. Or you go and prepare a sacrifice.

That's how you get clean, and John is preaching a cleansing through repentance. So perhaps that was perhaps that was the basis for the argument. We're not told, but this is the point As passionately, as John's disciples feel about ceremonial washing, we're gonna see how qualified they are to talk about it. In just a minute. So bear that in mind.

Now look, they're sparky. They're arguing with this certain due about ceremonial washing. And they move from 1 quarrel to another. They like an argument for these guys. They're really up for it because they come to Jesus with a complaint in the next verse.

Verse 26, they came to John and said to him, rabbi. That man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the 1 you testified about, Look, he's baptizing, and everyone is going to him. Yeah? So, rabbi. That's word for teacher.

Special honor. Rabbi. You're the rabbi. You're the 1 with the authority to baptize. There is a man Just a man.

Me a man copying you. He's baptizing, and everyone is going to him. Can you believe it? And he's the 1 you testified about. Remember that?

The only reason anyone's following him is because you first said, oh, yeah, he's worth listening to. So not only did you help him get started and get him his first followers, now he's stealing your ministry. He's coming back to undo you. What are you gonna do about it? That's the response of John's disciples.

People are coming into the light. They're coming out of the darkness to the lord Jesus Christ. And while that's happening, John's disciples, they see a problem with that, and they want to be the ones who go around teaching how you're made right with God. Arguing with people about ceremonial washing. Now, do you see an irony here?

Those of you who know the Scriptures. Though they think they know enough about what makes you clean before God to argue about it, getting in an argument about ceremonial washing. They think they know enough about that. In complaining about Jesus, they actually reveal they know absolutely nothing at all. There's a great irony there.

Cerrimonial washing was the symbolic washing away of Sid, making yourself right with God, as I've said, And what was it, if you remember, John told his disciples, these very people who should know better. What was it? John told them about Jesus when he first saw them, Probably not that long ago. He said, behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That's a that's a very rich old testament picture, and it's an amazing picture.

It's a levitical picture, It's a picture of a lamb being sacrificed to cleanse you of your sin, to make you right with God. So John is saying, here is the lamb that will ceremonially wash you. And Jesus also had just told nicodemus in verse 5, if you look up. Jesus said, very truly, I tell you, no 1 can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the spirit. You need to be cleansed before you enter the kingdom of God.

You need to be born of water and the spirit. So you wanna be ceremonially clean. You want to be washed away of your sins. Go to him. He's the lamb of God.

He's the 1 who will actually ceremonially. Not just ceremonially. He will actually wash you The ceremony points to him. The ceremony is just a picture of him. So forget the ceremony.

The real deal's here. Go to him, but John's disciples just wanna argue about ceremonial washing, and they complain about Jesus. Okay? That's the complaint. That's the first point.

What about John's response then? What's he gonna say? I mean, after all baptism was his ministry, he started it. Jesus then came along and started doing it alongside. So what's he gonna say?

Well, John, not me, but John has 4 points. K? So these aren't my points. These are John's 4 points underneath my second point. So here's the first of John's 4 points.

To his disciples. First point, you get what you're given. Verse 27. To this, John replied, a person can receive only what has given them from heaven. A person can receive only what has given them to heaven.

So in other words, disciples, Jesus wouldn't be receiving people unless they were given to him by heaven. Jesus is not outsmarting us here. He's not producing a better value baptism. That's more attractive. He's not giving people a kind of 2 for 1 deal.

If you get baptized with John, you'll have to come back tomorrow because you would have messed up again. If you baptize with me, I'll give you 2 for 1, and you can baptize now, sin later, and you'll still be covered. Jesus isn't doing that. He's not setting himself up in competition with John, trying to get them. If people go to him, John is saying, it's because they've been given to him From heaven.

Jesus eventually prays in John 17. He says this to his father, I have revealed you to those whom you gave me. Out of the world. They were yours. You gave them to me, and they have a Bager word.

If anyone comes to the light, it is because the father draws them. John, the Baptist knows that. So nicodemus, remember him? He as he was sort of sat there in the cover of darkness, thinking about whether he should go to Jesus or not, as he was remembering all the conversations that his pharisee friends had been saying against him, and as he was weighing that up with the signs that Jesus performed and the things he'd heard about him as he was sat there in that moment feeling more and more compelled to go to Jesus. Who was it actually?

Who's compelling him? The father in those moments. Wasdrawing him to come to the lord Jesus Christ. Actually, if you're a Christian here tonight, isn't that a warming thought? That whatever circumstances brought you, maybe even here tonight, the father has drawn you and called you.

Because he gave you to the sun. And that's why you'll hear as a Christian. So back to John's disciples. This is John's first point to his disciples. If people are going to Jesus, It's because God's storing them.

Yeah? Who are you to argue with that? You get what you're given from heaven. His second point to his disciples. I already told you.

I already told you Verse 28, you yourselves can testify that I said, I am not the Messiah, but I'm sent ahead of him. I preach a sermon in chapter 1, how many weeks ago it was. Remember 3 times, he says, I am not. I am not. I am not.

Are you the Messiah? No. Are you Elijah? No. Are you the prophet?

No. Who are you then? We'll get to that. He, himself, is not the light. But he came to testify to the light, as chapter 1 again, that that imagery of light.

He came to prepare the way for Jesus, And he's told his disciples this. He says, I'm just a messenger. I'm going ahead. There's someone coming after me. He's the 1 to pay attention to.

When he's here, You stop listening to me, you listen to him. The whole reason I'm telling people about him is because he's coming. He's like the king. The king is coming. Make yourselves ready.

The king is coming. It'd be mental if When the king arrived, you were still listening to the the proclaimer who was saying, the king's coming. You're like, well, the king's here. Well, listen to the king then. So now that Jesus is here, it's right for people to go to him.

Don't complain that people are going to Jesus instead of you, Go to he's the king. He's here. And actually, if John has done a good job, if John has If John has done his job properly as the messenger, people will be going to Jesus when he's arrived. So actually, disciples, if you've been any help to me whatsoever, you're also to blame for this because this was our job to get people ready for the king when he comes. So disciples, what's the issue here?

Unless, actually, you haven't been listening to me at all. I already told you was the second point. Third point, I'm just the best man That's not the bible language, but in verse 29, you see the word that he does use. The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend, or I'm inserting best man there, 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. So on a wedding day, it's normally the other way around. The glue Sorry. The bride is already there, and it's the no. It's not.

It's the groom who's there. I was getting well confused on my notes. Normal wedding. The groom's there at the altar, and it's the bride who comes, isn't it? Except for The Eite's wedding, where Sophie was Sophie, the bride was at the altar, like the church waiting for Christ.

It was fantastic. And then Abri appears like Christ at the door. And then he like, dances down the aisle. It was fantastic, mate. He dances down.

It was utterly brilliant. And actually, I was thinking if judgement day is anything like that, If when we see Christ, he's dancing down the aisle to us. Not like that. That's like Anyway, if anything If if judgment is anything like that, then actually Sophie has a foretaste of what we're all gonna enjoy on that day. See in Abri, dance down.

Towards her. But look, imagine it was that way around normally. Everyone's waiting for the groom to appear. And the best man is is there at the venue, and everyone's buzzing around and he's getting anxious because he wants everything to be perfect. And then he gets the call.

The groom is on his way. He's gonna be there in 5 minutes. And then the best man hangs up and immediately says, right, everyone get ready. He's coming. He's coming.

Right. So, musicians take your seats, start tuning. People take your seats, make sure you're on the right side. Brides, do the last minute, whatever the brides do. That you don't normally see because they're outside doing it.

But do that now, because he's coming. Everyone gets ready, he's coming, and then he goes and stands at the church door. And waits for the car to arrive, and for him to hear the voice of his best mate, get out the car. And when he sees him arrive, when that car pulls up and the door opens and he steps out, and he hears his friend's voice. He's so excited because he knows his friend is about to get married to the love of his life.

And when they meet together at the altar, it's a beautiful moment. It would be madness, wouldn't it? At that same wedding, when you're watching the couple, the happy couple have their first dance. It would be madness. If in that moment someone sidled up to the best man and was like, he's getting a bit close there, don't you think?

Then you think they're a little bit too it's beyond the friend zone now, isn't it? It would be weird if someone went up to the best man and said that about the groom and and the bride. The the best man would rightly say, who the heck are you? Why are you here? Who invited you.

I'm not the groom. I'm the best man, so she doesn't belong to me. I have no right to her. She's my best friend's wife, not mine. And by the way, look at them, look at how much they're enjoying each other.

I've been looking forward to this for months, I always been making sure that this day's been perfect for them. I've been stressed that the rings are there. I've been stressed that everyone gets there on time. I've been stressed because I want it to be perfect, and now my joy is complete because they've got married, and they were enjoying each other. So if you're just the best man, what on earth are you saying disciples coming up to me saying, look, everyone's going to choose this?

The bride doesn't belong to me. The bride belongs to him. So rightly, the bride should go to him. That's the third point. I'm just the best man.

The fourth point John makes to his disciples. He must become greater. I must become less, and that's verse 30. He must become greater, I must become less. Ironically, this is actually the key to a life of joy as well.

By the way. There are millions of self help help books which have hilarious titles like how to change your life before 9 AM in the morning. It's like, what? That's ridiculous. But this here, in these sort of, how many words that is.

8 words? 8 words change your life. There you go. That's my self help book. And it's not self help at all.

He must become greater. I must become less. That's where you find real joy. And that's really counterculture, isn't it? Because actually, if you think about John and his life so far, nowadays, if someone met him, they might sit John down, and they would say, John, tell me about yourself, how do you see yourself?

And he would start off by saying, well, I'm not the Messiah. And you go, okay, but but John, how would you define yourself? Well, I'm I'm not Elijah. Yes, fine, John. I know.

You're not the messiah, you're not Elijah, but What would you say about yourself? Tell me something. Okay. I'm the voice of 1 calling. Brilliant.

You're the voice. That's fantastic. That's the start. Let's talk about your voice, John. That's something special you have, isn't it?

That's something you can take joy from. Let's work out how we can get your voice out there. Well, actually, I'm I'm listening now. It's like, what? You're listening.

Yeah. I'm listening out for the bridegroom's voice. And when I hear his voice, that's when my joy is gonna be complete. So, John, let me get this straight. The only way you describe yourself is as a voice in the wilderness.

Yeah. Yeah. And your joy is complete when you hear his voice. Yeah. Isn't that amazing?

In a world that is telling you to look further and further within yourself, your joy is in the success and satisfaction of Jesus and not in yourself. That's an amazing, amazing point. That John makes to his disciples. Many of you will know that I really like Will Smith, not necessary for his personality, but he's for his entertainment persona. Very entertaining.

But actually, I recently listened to his autobiography, Will. Which came out not long ago. And that identifies as a self help book, so you'll see that on the shelf next to how to change your life before 9 AM. And as he goes through his life, you've you realize Will Smith is on a quest to become the greatest person he can be. That's basically his life's mantra.

He wants to be the greatest rapper. He wants to be the greatest actor. Wants to be the greatest movie star. He wants to be the greatest husband, the greatest son, the greatest dad. He wants to be the greatest And the way he does that constantly is by self examination, and by going further and further in, and further further within himself.

And towards the end of the book, so actually more recently in his life, he describes some experiences he has with a hallucinogenic tribal drug. Which is meant to take you on these long sort of drug trips. And he explored this when he was in a very low place in life, even ironically when his movies were breaking box office records, and he was still unhappy. He went to to sort of try and find meaning in something else and these trips were really vivid for him. I think they are for a lot of people, but he describes this drug trip as being flung out into the sort of deepest part of space, millions of light years away from the earth.

So he's far away from home, far away from everything that he knows, and he says it's just breathtakingly beautiful. He he describes it like a picasso painting. He says it's just utterly stunning. The brilliance of all the millions of of light just overwhelm him. And then, he says, when he's just sort of suspended there in the middle of space, a female presence sort of appears with him.

And he he senses she's behind him, but whenever he tries to turn around, she moves so he can't see her. And even though he can't see her, he feels very reassured by her. She feels to him like a lover, he says, like a teacher, like a protector, like a guide. And he names her mother. Something very strange about all of that, if you ask me.

But he describes this conversation he has with mother at 1 time when he's just suspended in the brilliance of of the universe, and he says like, wow, isn't this beautiful? Isn't just isn't this universe amazing. It's so big. It's so endless. It's so beautiful.

And mother laughs gently to him, and she says, this isn't a place, silly, and she calls him silly, apparently. And he says, It's not. This isn't a place. She goes, no, silly. It's you.

He says, wait a minute, all of this is me. I am this beautiful Of course, you are silly. It's quite sickening, isn't it? It makes you feel very uncomfortable, but this is this is word for word, is it written in his book? And when he wakes up from this drug trip, he concludes, if I'm this beautiful I don't need number 1 movies to feel good about myself.

I don't need my family to be happy with me to feel good about myself. He goes on like that. I at that point, I couldn't believe what he was saying, genuinely, A lot of the book I had to pause it and just go, brother, you need the Lord Jesus Christ. Every chapter I was banging my head saying, where is Jesus like, where is anyone preaching this to you? But I couldn't believe it at this particular point.

His whole life has tried to be greater and greater and greater. He's never had joy. In fact, every step he'd made to get greater at something, he had less joy. And so his latest tack was to go so far within himself that he was the universe suddenly. And he didn't need anything or anyone else.

But John The Baptist gets it spot on 2000 years ago. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and he's full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice That joy is mine and is now complete. He must become greater. I must become less. Will Smith, if you're listening, will never say my joy is complete.

Unless he comes to the lord Jesus Christ, and says, he must become greater. I must become less. So that was John's sermon to his disciples, I want to ask us now about ourselves, because Jesus is calling people to him. He's at work today, through his church, through his holy spirit, through his word, and the father is calling people. People are coming into the light, out of darkness, they're coming to him.

Maybe even you, right now, are being drawn to to the lord Jesus Christ by the Father. The disciples complain because business isn't as good. John is overjoyed because he's a friend of the groom, the best man. But what about us? How are we gonna respond to see multitudes going to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Because you are also not the best No. You are also the best man. You aren't the groom to other people. In this room or in the world. You are just the best man to everyone that you know.

You aren't the group. So what is your priority for your friends and your family? Is your priority to make people like you more? Is your priority for people to have a good time with you? Do you want people to serve you and love you more?

Because John reminds us tonight, they don't belong to you. Your friends and your family don't belong to you primarily. They actually belong to Jesus. Even your spouses, So if friends and family are sacrificing time with you to serve Jesus or spend time with him, do we resent that? Do we think that people should be more taken up with us?

Do we think people should love us more than they love Jesus? Particularly for spouses. Carrie and I have this little devotion that's like 5 things to pray for your spouse. Every day, which is fantastic. But in our praying for our spouses, are we praying that they would love us more?

Or are we praying that they would love Jesus more? There's no danger of them leaving you for Jesus. Don't worry about that. That's not the same thing that's going on. Except there is this 1 guy I know who jokes that his wife left him for another man.

And what he means by that was she passed away and went to be with Jesus. I quite like that joke, to be honest. But that isn't what's gonna happen hopefully to you guys. But I wanna ask you, are you praying for them? Are you praying that they would even be successful themselves of people?

Or is our prayer gonna be that Jesus would be the 1 who's successful? Are we gonna pray that our spouses and our friends and our family would find joy in him and not in us? And be encouraging people to go to him. That's 1 point of application. We're just the best man to our friends.

Not their groom. Here's another point of application. Does it trouble us to see change Remember, John and the Baptist disciples were having a good time. They were the 1 food truck. Everyone was going to them.

There was queues. It was exciting. And then something happens. And things change, and old sort of habits die, and the old way of doing thing dies, and maybe even things that they would enjoy doing die. I mean, thinking about us as a church, our church is growing, which is great.

People are coming into the light. They're coming to the lord Jesus Christ. I mean, who who was active in this morning. It was absolutely packed. There was, like, 20, 30 people having to wait for the kids to get out so they could come in and get their seats.

It's very exciting, and we're trying to think about how we can fit more people into tiffins. But is our joy seeing people come? To the lord Jesus Christ, cramming into tiffins. Or when we're there, are we sort of, you know, remembering the good old days when you could look around the room and know everyone? And sort of have the time to speak to everyone and you didn't have to speak to new people.

What's our attitude? Now that lots of people are coming, and things are changing. Because there are challenges to being a bigger church, and there are growing pains, and there's all this kind of stuff. And we can tend to miss the golden years, can't we? And it's different for everyone, isn't it?

Some people have just joined, some people have been here 10 years, some people have been here longer, always golden years that we remember in our minds. But look, we need to ask the lord to keep our joy in hearing the bridegroom's voice and seeing the bride go to him. So when Tiffins is packed and there isn't a place for you to sit, go brilliant. The bride has come. And she's come to listen to the voice of the of the bridegroom.

Yeah? Give up your chair next time on a on a Sunday morning to someone. Get people in there. And if we wish that the church was smaller or we were back in the good old days, what are you doing? The bride's coming to the groom.

Okay? Be excited by that. Yes. There's lots of things we can figure out to keep good family feel, to keep, you know, making sure people are being looked after, but let's not despise people coming to the lord Jesus Christ. So let's watch that amongst ourselves and be excited by it.

And the last thing is, are you part of the bride of Christ? Or are you still in darkness? Do you yourself need to step into that light? Because Jesus is ready to meet anyone who comes to him under whatever circumstances. I mean, nicodemus came to him under night.

You would say, may redoing. Why are you embarrassed to see me? Come in the day, but that's not what Jesus did. Jesus received him in his weakness, in his sort of embarrassment, So wherever you are, Jesus stands ready to receive you. And and what about John's point about you get what you're given?

Jesus receives people who the father gives him. Because I want to ask if you wouldn't call yourself a Christian, why are you here tonight? What sequence of events brought you here tonight to listen to this? You might think, our friend invited me or I heard Ben was preaching and he's pretty good, so I wanted to go hear him. Actually, it's got nothing to do with me, or Garrett or anyone.

It's the father who draws you to the lord Jesus Christ. And I pray that is what the father is doing to you. He's the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And if you need to be washed, if you know you're filthy, if you know that you need to be cleansed, not ceremonially cleansed. If you actually need to be cleansed from every impurity in sin, Jesus Christ is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

He is the 1 who can make you clean. And whether you come now and there's like an altar call and you come and you receive Jesus now or whether you do it at night like nicodemus, under the cover of darkness, maybe tonight in bed when no 1 else can see, you pray. Whether you do it now or you do it then, If you come to him, your joy is gonna be complete. You're gonna be that bride, and you'll see the bridegroom, and your joy will be complete. Will Smith as half joking very seriously, actually, you will never find joy unless you come to the lord Jesus Christ.

He's the groom who cleanses you. Isn't that wonderful? The groom of cleansers you. Let's pray. Father, we thank you so much for the Lord Jesus.

Thank you that he is the groom. That 1 day there's gonna be an incredible wedding ceremony in heaven. Where we're taken up. And us, as a church, are finally united with the lord Jesus Christ. We see him face to face.

We long for that day, when we meet our creator, our king, our priest, and the groom to the church, what a wonderful thing. Help us in this world to remember that we're just the we're just the best men, So forgive us when we want people to love us, help us to to have joy when he increases, and the the bride goes to him. Help us as a church as well as we grow. Help us to be excited that people are stepping into the light. Not to ask questions about changing times or wishing we're less of the bride.

Help us to be excited that the bride is stepping into the light. And father, we do pray that anyone here who who hasn't stepped into the to the light yet, would you would you draw them, please? We never come to you on our own. We need you to draw us. So would you do so in Jesus' name, amen?

Preached by Ben Read
Ben Read photo

Ben is a Trainee Pastor at Cornerstone and lives with his wife Ceri who is a youth leader and helps run the women’s ministry in the church.

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