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"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man comes after me who has surpassed me because He was before me.' I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.'
"Then John gave this testimony, 'I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on Him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is God's Chosen One.'" John 1:29-34 (NIV)
There you have it, straight from John's mouth! It seems that John and Jesus, although they were relatives, had no connection with one another until this moment. Jesus grew up in the northern province of Galilee and John in Judea in the south. There were no motor vehicles to make the trip to Galilee or Judea easy for a family holiday, and besides that, John's parents were elderly and probably not given to travelling around.
Naturally John knew about Jesus -- had his father not prophesied over him at his birth that he would be a prophet and forerunner of the Messiah? Had he himself not leapt for joy in his mother's womb when she came face to face with Mary, mother of the Messiah? Would his parents not have thoroughly prepared him for the day when he would begin his role as priest-prophet in Israel, the first after 400 years of prophetic silence?
And what about the time he spent in the wilderness with God, soaking up the Word he had studied and memorised during his years of preparation to be a rabbi? Of course John was a rabbi! Only rabbis had disciples -- and John had his disciples as did Jesus. So crucial was John's ministry to be that God would not have left his first meeting with Jesus to chance.
God gave John a clear sign to identify Jesus as the Messiah from among the many Jewish men he would encounter in his ministry. How would he recognise Him? Would He be wearing special clothing, have a distinguishing mark on His face or on His body, have a specific hair style, wear a name tag on His chest? Of course not! Nothing as silly as that!
The Spirit! The Holy Spirit was the key, but how would John know that the Holy Spirit was on Him? God told him that he would see the Holy Spirit descend and remain on Jesus and that would be the sign that He was the Messiah. And it happened!
This was the first and only time in Scripture that the Holy Spirit was visible to human eyes. Matthew and Mark wrote that Jesus saw the Spirit descending while Luke simply related the fact that the Spirit descended on Him in bodily form, like a dove. That must have been visible to someone who either wrote it down or told Luke about it.
But John saw the Holy Spirit and to him this was a sign of great significance because it showed him exactly who the Messiah was. From that moment he used every opportunity to point out to those who followed him or came to listen to him that Jesus of Nazareth was God's Chosen One. That was his job and he did it with great delight and with all his heart.
The apostle John, with hindsight after decades of contemplation, weighing up the evidence of John's ministry and his years with Jesus, recognised in John the qualities that made him a truly great prophet. After His baptism when John the Baptist knew who the Messiah was by the visible presence of the Holy Spirit coming upon Him, he used every opportunity to point Him out to the people. 'Look, there's the One I keep telling you about, God's Lamb who is to be sacrificed for the world's sin.'
John was not intent on drawing attention to Jesus to make Him popular but to introduce Him in His true role as God's sacrificial Lamb, not just for the sin of Israel alone but for the sin of the world. Jesus cautioned those who were healed not to speak about it because He did not want to be known as the miracle-worker who did things for people. That was evidence of the real reason why He came, to take away the sin of the world so that God's wayward sons and daughters could return home to the Father.
The Holy Spirit was crucial to Jesus who laid aside His deity to live as a man, and He is crucial to every believer. Without the Holy Spirit in us, we are as vulnerable as the Israelites were who failed to keep the covenant God made with them at Sinai. It was His death and resurrection that cleared the way for the Holy Spirit to saturate every believer just as He saturated Jesus and empowered Him to live as a true Son and to lay down His life for us.
Are you drenched in the Holy Spirit?
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