The Unknown Jesus
John the Baptist was a real puzzle to the official religious leaders. They did not know who had given him authority. They were very relieved that he had freely admitted that he was not God’s promised Messiah, but baptising non-Jews was an official priestly function. Although John’s father had been a priest, the Baptiser was not part of the authorised hierarchy; and also, John was baptising circumcised Jews who had already considered themselves part of God’s people. So what was he doing?
Mark 1:4 tells us that John preached the baptism of repentance – the pledge of a contrite conscience before God, seeking His forgiveness. John admitted that it was the Holy Spirit who had commissioned him to baptise (John 1:32). But then John went on to say that the important matter was not his preaching or his baptising, but preparing people to meet the one they did not know. As John said, “among you stands one you do not know”. John himself was not certain of the identity of God the Son until He had been baptised (John 1:33-34). Although he would have heard of his own remarkable conception, and the prophecy made about him by his father Zechariah (Luke 1:76-79), John still did not know for certain that Jesus was God the Son. So, on the banks of the Jordan, the Baptiser and the baptised were waiting for God the Father to reveal God the Son.
The church today is more favoured than John the Baptist when he was being interrogated by the religious lawyers. There is a sense in which Jesus still stands amongst the crowd but they do not know Him. The world turns to religion in order to find God, but the Bible simply says, ‘You need Jesus’! The crowd may not know who He is but we who do know Him can tell others … indeed we should and must. Your friends and colleagues may be intrigued by your lifestyle, your peace of heart and your confidence when others are afraid – tell them it is all because of Jesus! Those who reach out to Him will never be disappointed.
© Dr Paul Adams