Anglican Morning Devotion for 19 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“For John was not yet cast into prison. 25Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:24-30; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
One of our most valuable earthly possessions is to know another as a friend. We may be disappointed in a friend, but a true friend will always take our part when storms arise. As a good old popular song declares, a friend is very much like a “Bridge over Troubled Waters.” (Simon & Garfunkel, 1969). Sadly, some men and women go through their entire lifetimes without making a single friend. How do we measure the worth of a friend? We note the loyalty, faithfulness, and sacrificial love of a friend for us. A friend will stand by us when others fail us. He is not ashamed to admit that he is our friend, and he will stand by us in time of hardship. But a friend will also be honest in his counsel to us. He will give true counsel even if it displeases us. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
Though and earthly friend may be above the bar of all others of our general society, the friendship of God is of far greater importance than any earthly friend can aspire to be. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Our Lord Jesus Christ is that Friend that is more precious than any brother of mortal blood. He is the Brother who is more profoundly related to us by blood – His blood by which He redeemed us. He chose us to be His friends ever before we could have known Him as Friend: “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye love one another.” (John 15:15-17)
The obligation of friendship is not a one-way street, but a dual obligation. We owe Christ a return on His love by being a fountain of love to others.
Today’s text has direct reference to John the Baptist, and a secondary meaning for us. John was the Forerunner for Christ. As the friend of the Bridegroom, it was his responsibility to introduce the Bridegroom to the prospective bride – the Church. In ancient times in Israel, it was the friend of the bridegroom who spoke on behalf of the Bridegroom and prepared the details of the Marriage Feast and transport of the bride to the ceremony. This John did according to his calling in God. The friend of the Bridegroom would never deceive the Bride or misrepresent the Bridegroom. John was martyred in his role as friend of the Bridegroom. But how does this role apply to us in our time?
Just as our Lord has made all things known to us that He heard from the Father, so it falls upon us in our roles as friends of the Bridegroom to preserve, protect, and faithfully propagate that Word which we have both heard and seen of the Lord.
Remember when the Lord cast out legions of devils from the lad of the Gadarenes? The men of that land begged our Lord to depart from them after the swine perished from the demons possession. “And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. 17And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. 18And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. 19Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. 20And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” (Mark 5:15-20)
After such a mighty salvation made possible by our Friend, should we not do the same as the lad of Gadara and “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee?” (Mark 5:19)