Sunday, March 27, 2011

Didn't John the Baptist Know Jesus?

Anonymous asked: When John the Baptist meets Jesus to baptize him, Jn 1:29, he states and it certainly sounds like he does not know him. But they were related, were they not? John's mother, Elizabeth, is one of the first to acknowledge Mary as "the mother of my Lord", Luke 1:36,43. It seems like Mary and Elizabeth would have seen each other later with their boys. And wouldn't Elizabeth have told her son, John, about his relative, Jesus, and the circumstances of his birth?

I believe John knew his cousin, Jesus. But I don't think it surprising that John didn't recognize the office Jesus was about to enter into.  And even though Elizabeth and Mary surely conversed often about the circumstances of both pregnancies, and most likely talked about the angelic visitations and such in front of the children, it appears even Jesus' kinfolk didn't know who Jesus was in His role as the eternal Son of God, Messiah, Redeemer, Lamb of God. For example, see John 7:1-10 , Mark 3:20-21, and Mark 6:1-6, especially verse 4.

Furthermore, Scripture says fairly often that Jesus' words were 'hidden' from even His disciples (for example, see the Emmaus Road event in Luke 24:13-31; Luke 9:44-46; Luke 18:31-34.

And so, for these reasons it does not surprise me His mission was also hidden from people -- even His family -- until the time set by the Father.

Good question. Hope my answer helps.



  1. Rich, I see what you are saying but don't you think that given what Zachariah said about John in Luke 1 "You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins." And if he was with his mother I find it hard to believe that she wouldn't have told him of her encounter with Mary after the Annunciation. It seems to me that he is more surprised at the way God is revealing Jesus' mission when he says "I need to be baptized by you." Pete in Connecticut

  2. Ah, yes. You also make a good point (you are referring, of course, to the text in St. Matthew 3:13ff). In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think you are closer to the truth than I am. I was too focused on the passage in Luke, and forgot about the parallel passage in Matthews. Thanks for the feedback, Pete.