Summary: Not once but twice, John the Baptist said: "I did not recognize Him"
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, October 27, 2013
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
IN CHRIST ALONE: “I Did Not Recognize Him” [Part Three]
Previously in part one of this sermon series entitled, “In Christ Alone”, the apostle John spoke of Jesus being the “eternal logos”. He went on to say that the Word was “with God” and that the Word “was God”. In part two, we learned that John the Baptist was a ‘credible witness’ as “a voice of one crying in the wilderness” [Isaiah 40:3].
In this morning’s passage, the Baptist continues his testimony about Jesus being the Christ, the Long-awaited Messiah, and God’s eternal Son! But then the Baptist makes a peculiar remark; where not once, but twice, he says: “I did not recognize Him…” and yet we know from Scripture that they were cousins [Luke 1:36].
I also find it ironic that John’s gospel does not specifically mention Jesus’ baptism, but only what occurs before and after He was immersed; whereas the three Synoptic Gospels speak about Jesus' baptism [Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22]. Perhaps this is because John wrote his narrative much later than the other three. And so it’s conceivable that John purposely tried to avoid being redundant.
In Matthew’s account when Jesus came forward to be baptized, He said to the Baptist: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” [Matthew 3:15]. Thus, baptism became a holy sacrament by Christ’s own example and command. Our Lord’s baptism also came to symbolize His birth, death and resurrection.
Jesus’ baptism also served as His inauguration ceremony for the commencement of His earthly ministry. On this auspicious occasion the Baptist made the following declarations:
JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD (repeat).
This took place the day after a delegation arrived from Jerusalem comprised of both priests and Levites who subsequently interrogated the Baptist. This delegation asked John if he was claiming to be the Christ, and if not, then was he Elijah, or Moses.
And the Baptist said “No” to each of their inquiries. He did, however, explain that he was the forerunner to the Messiah. In this capacity he was preaching a message of repentance and baptizing believers (both Jew and Gentile) with water. And this took place on the other side of the Jordan River near the town of Bethany.
This remarkable phrase, “the Lamb of God” appears only twice in the Bible; both in verse 29 and again in verse 36. However, the meaning and significance of this phrase was not lost to the Jews of that day. To them it meant, “sacrifice”! Every morning and evening, a lamb was sacrificed in the temple for the sins of the people [Exodus 29:38-42]. Then, too, in Isaiah 53:7, the prophet spoke of the Jewish Messiah as One who would be led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb…an unblemished Lamb; One who was without sin!