Summary: I wonder how well John and Jesus knew each other. If they had never met, I assume that Jesus at least knew of His cousin and vise versa.
His Picture of Jesus
John was Jesus’ cousin. The Bible doesn’t say if they had a relationship, prior to John baptizing Him in the Jordan River. We do know that His mother, Mary, visited his mother at the time they were both pregnant. I wonder how well John and Jesus knew each other. If they had never met, I assume that Jesus at least knew of His cousin and vise versa.
What is the picture that John has of Jesus?
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear the threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)
John’s humility is remarkable. He declares that Jesus’ baptism is superior to his, because he can only baptize with water. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The Holy Spirit will baptize all believers into the church of Christ. And the Holy Spirit will come to indwell the believer at the time of his salvation.
At the Second Coming He will baptize with fire. John says that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff, the “Elect” from non-believers. The chaff will be burnt up in the fires of Hell. John is His prophet, but he says that he is not worthy of that honor. Jesus is so much greater, that John says that he should not even be allowed to carry His shoes.
And this was his message, “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7-8)
John was truly a remarkable man. His words were powerful and he spoke of one who was yet to come. This one would have greater power and authority. John was speaking for him, even though he was not worthy to do so. John always pointed the people to Christ and did not want the spotlight on himself. He punctuated his message by baptizing those that confessed their sins and returned to obeying God. However, this humble servant declared that even his baptism was inferior to the baptism of the one to come.
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear the threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them. “ (Luke 3:15-18)
The coming of Christ was not going unnoticed. Many events had transpired which were prophesized in the scriptures. There was something in the air that caused anxiousness in people and brought them to John to see if he might be the Christ. He had a new message, and he was certainly different in his approach and appearance. The Holy Spirit was upon him and ignited his words, and the Spirit made the hearts of the people receptive to his words. John spoke of Christ’s coming in two phases. He said that he was present now and that he would soon appear to baptize those that would receive Him, with the Holy Spirit. And he also said that He would come again in the future to judge the world. This is the baptism of fire at which time He will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be pastured in His fields, but the goats will be destroyed.
“And preached the good news” to them. The “good news” is the message of the Gospels. He is preparing the way for the one who is the Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ. That is still the “good news” today; that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again. If you believe that Jesus did that for you, then you are saved.
“I baptize you with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one that you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:26-28)