"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." [John 1:29-31]The baptizing John was doing was part of God’s plan to reveal Messiah.
And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' [John 1:32-33]We know from the other gospels that this event had happened about six weeks before. John had not been able to identify Jesus until this moment because immediately after Jesus’ baptism He had gone into the desert for a forty day ordeal of testing.
John the Baptist did know Jesus as a person. He was Jesus’ second cousin since, Mary, Jesus’ mother and Elizabeth, John’s mother, were cousins. When Mary first went to visit Elizabeth, thirty years previously, Luke says John, already filled with the Holy Spirit, leaped inside Elizabeth because of Jesus, being carried inside Mary.
In fact John the apostle, the writer of this gospel, was also Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s cousin since his mother Salome was Mary’s sister. So they were all family. But remember what John had already written about Jesus coming into the world
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. [John 1:11]Even Jesus’ own brothers did not know who He was as they grew up with Him.
When Jesus came up to John the Baptist to be baptized in the river Jordan, the gospels record John protesting, saying Jesus was really the one who should baptize him. Even before God revealed to the Baptist that Jesus was the Messiah, The Gospels explain that Jesus grew every day in wisdom and that He had the grace of God upon Him. In fact, the gospels say that Jesus grew in everybody’s esteem and good opinion. He found favor with God and with people.
John had never known Jesus to ever do a wrong thing. That’s why he told Jesus, no You should be baptizing me, because I know I’m a sinner, but I’ve never known you to sin.
What the Baptist was about to find out was that Jesus was not only perfect, but
"I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." [John 1:34]When he baptized Jesus and saw the Holy Spirit come down and rest above Jesus and heard the Father say, “This is My Son in Whom I am well pleased,” that was the sign God had given to the Baptist. But he couldn’t announce Jesus to the world until now, when Jesus had returned from the desert.
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