Bethany, east of the Jordan River
A man was questioned, “Who are you?”
“I am not the Messiah!
I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness…
My name is John, I baptize with water, but right here
In the crowd is someone you do not recognize.” (Matthew 3:26)
Can you imagine being in a crowded place when all of a sudden,
A celebrity is noticed, someone everyone recognizes like, let’s say, Morgan Freeman.
He’s a pretty huge star. But on this day, no one recognized him. If people had known he was there in their midst they would have gone wild. They’d have wanted his autograph, and everyone would have rushed around him to get a picture with him. Excitement and cheers would have gone up because this famous man was in the crowd. But the son of God, no one recognized him in the crowd that day, because they didn’t know who he was. John came to announce that someone greater than himself was in the crowd, whose sandals he wasn’t worthy to unloose. Someone they’ve read about and talked about for centuries but when He came no one knew him…
Jesus was in the crowd that day and he came to John to be baptized. John didn’t know he was the Messiah until he saw the spirit of God, like a dove, descend and rest upon him. God had told John that’s how he would know Jesus. John said, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. (John 1:32-33) NLT
John baptized Jesus and when he came up out of the water, he heard a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)
Are you in the crowd today listening, watching but you don’t recognize the Savior? He’s standing in the crowd right beside you. Compassion on his face, there’s a longing in his heart just for you. He’s holding out his hand to take yours. He wants to talk to you and walk with you and tell you how very much he loves you. Do you recognize him? Don’t you have questions you want answers for? John is still speaking today and he’s saying, “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.” (Matthew 3:3)
Even today people don’t recognize him, but he’s there…in the crowd.
He’s in the face of his children…when we speak a kind word or lend a hand to help our neighbor…he’s there at the bedside of a loved one dying…he’s there when a new-born baby takes his first breath. He’s there when you are crying in the night because you don’t know what you’re going to do. He’s there when you are sick and he’s there when you are well…He is always here. But if you don’t recognize him…you won’t know he’s here.
There’s a way for you to recognize him…it’s simple and easy…and no all your trials won’t go away because you accept him. But I promise you, He has said he will be with you through all of them. He has given his peace in the midst of the trial. He has given His joy in the center of your pain. He will give you the Holy Spirit to help you, if you will simply open your heart and recognize who he is. God said, “This is my beloved son, in who I am well pleased.”
The crowd is pressing in, the noise of the day is stifling…Do you see Him? There he is, there’s a woman at his feet…she knows him…and she knows that if she can just touch the hem of his robe she will be healed (Matthew 9:21)…She recognized him in the crowd, he is, THE SON OF GOD!
–Marla Shaw O’Neill March 31, 2017
The Testimony of John the Baptist
This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.”
“Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”
“No,” he replied.
“Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”
“Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”
Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked him, “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?”
John told them, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.”
This encounter took place in Bethany, an area east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.
Jesus, the Lamb of God
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”