In John 3:29, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST calls himself “the friend of the Bridegroom.” Jesus said no man was greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).
“For there is no higher calling and no higher dignity for a man than to be the friend of the Bridegroom. The Lord wishes to find in man a friend who would be a god according to grace, a creaturely image and likeness of God. But since the fall, when man stopped being God’s friend and became a child of wrath (see Eph. 2:3), his return to God’s friendship, his reconciliation with God, has become the express task of the divine economy of our salvation.” (Sergius Bulgakov, The Friend of the Bridegroom, pg. 9)
Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world seeking friendship with all who would align themselves with Him. John the Baptist was able to consider himself a best friend to the son of God.
“John preached that God’s promises to the descendants of Abraham were in danger if they did not immediately commit themselves to a whole-hearted return to observance of the Covenant; and it did not matter if they were priestly aristocrats with long, distinguished genealogies preserved in the archives of the Temple or simple peasant farmers who traced their birth-rights all the way back through their families, clans, and tribal ancestors to the Patriarch Abraham … John saw his mission to call the people out into the wilderness of purification and renewal, out to the Jordan across which they had entered the land that God had promised them in the first place, to renew their Covenant with Him. In the course of their daily lives, in an era of increasing economic tensions and apprehensions about the future, they had lost sight of the only way they could survive: a return to the observance of the Covenant that God had made with their forefathers at Sinai … John the Baptist was offering crowds of people who lived under the shadow of Rome and under the burden of Herodian control and taxation a new way to end the pain and uncertainty that plagues their daily lives. John’s baptism was not a panacea but a symbol of something much more important: a personal pledge to return to the way of life that God had decreed for the People of Israel.” (Richard A. Horsley and Neil Asher Silberman, The Message and the Kingdom. pgs. 33-34)