Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

The Unknown Jesus

John 1:24-28
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptise if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ ‘I baptise with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’ This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising. (NIVUK)

John the Baptist was a real puzzle to the official religious leaders.  They did not know who had given him the spiritual authority in his preaching, which was recognised by the crowds.  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; but also, John was baptising circumcised Jews who had already considered themselves part of God’s people.  So, what was he doing?

In the minds of the religious leaders, the Baptiser could only be either the Messiah, Elijah or the prophet like Moses.  They could understand the Messiah baptising - although John the Baptist freely said he was not the Messiah (John 1:20).  And, in fact, Jesus did not baptise anybody (John 4:2).  The ‘prophet like Moses’ (Deuteronomy 18:15) was Jesus (Acts 3:22), not John the Baptist.  The prophecy of Malachi 4:5 spoke of Elijah coming before the Messiah; and Jesus said that John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14) came in the spirit of Elijah (Luke 1:17).

Mark 1:4 tells us that John preached the baptism of repentance – the pledge of a contrite conscience before God, seeking His forgiveness.  John went on to say that his role was to prepare people to meet the One they did not know. As John said, “among you stands one you do not know”.  Even 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.

Almighty God. Thank You for giving me the privilege of knowing Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord. I am sorry when I have forgotten my responsibility to make Him known to my friends and colleagues. Please help me to be much more aware that I am accountable to You and that I must allow the Holy Spirit to stir me to be a witness of Jesus to those I live and work with. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams