At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
- Luke 1:39-45
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’” …
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
- Matthew 3:1-3, 13-17
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps 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.
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 who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing 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 baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
- John 1:24-34
John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
- Luke 7:18-28
[Matthew 3:16-17]: ”In this scene John had just baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. And John recognized that he was the Son of God because the sign from heaven for which he had been told to look had been given. As Jesus came up out of the water, the Spirit of God descended on him in a visible form and rested on him. At the same time the dove descended and lighted on Christ, a voice from heaven identified Jesus. This was the voice of God the Father, who did not reveal himself in a bodily shape but uttered wondrous words such as mortal ears had never before heard. The Father revealed himself, not to the eyes as the Spirit did, but to the ears. And the words he spoke clearly indicated that it was God the Father bearing witness to his beloved Son. The entrance of Christ into his public ministry on earth was the chosen opportunity for the public manifestation of the intimate union between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Some seem to suppose that Jesus Christ is our Savior to the exclusion of God the Father and of God the Holy Spirit, but this is a most erroneous idea. We are saved by the precious blood of Christ, but God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have had their share in the great work of our salvation as well. In order that we might not fall into the error in which some have been entangled, it pleased God to give us, at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry, a distinct intimation that he did not come alone and that he did not undertake the work of our redemption apart from the other adorable persons of the ever-blessed Trinity.”
- Charles Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
What Do We Know about their Relationship?
Either their spirits or their souls recognized one another in the womb. It is recorded that Elizabeth and Mary were cousins, and whether closely related or not, they had a strong bond.
John the Baptist, prior to baptizing Jesus, recognized that Jesus was someone who should baptize him, but he knew for sure that Jesus was the Messiah once the dove descended.
Yet, John the Baptist (or Baptizer, since many scholars do not like the idea that “Baptist” is the name of a denomination) questioned whether Jesus was the One.
What Can We Infer about their Relationship?
With Elizabeth and Mary having a familial bond, Jesus and John could have met at family reunions, or whatever family gatherings they had in those days. They probably recognized each other. John could have known that Jesus was not your ordinary child growing up, and the reluctance to baptize could have been Jesus’ “piety” and not His “deity.” Thus, the point of knowledge then was when the dove descended.
We might infer that a limited number of people heard God the Father say that this was His Son. Jesus did not want that broadcasted until it was His time.
We do not have to infer that John the Baptist was a human being with all the frailties of that condition. His doubts, especially in prison and about to be executed, are a natural part of that condition. But Jesus does not directly answer John’s followers. He quotes Scripture, Isaiah 29, 35, and 61. We can infer that Jesus knew John was well instructed in the Scriptures.
In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?
If they had spent a lot of time together when Elizabeth and Mary visited one another, there could be volumes of books written about how those two played together. John could be the adventurous one, preparing himself to become the rugged man the Scriptures describe and Jesus may not have been tentative, but He would have not done anything His mother had told Him not to do. That could raise conflicts in two boys who were six months apart in age.
What Can We Learn from this Relationship?
I have heard various arguments about when Jesus knew He was the Christ. Since there is a comment in Isaiah 7:15 that “he” will know wrong from right when eating curds and honey, I have a feeling Jesus knew early on. I will agree that His earthly ministry started with His baptism.
And although James talks of doubts leading to being double-mindedness, we still have doubts at times. Satan loves that trick to throw us off from our goal of spreading the love of God to others. But just as we have our reasons to know for sure, John had his. First, he saw the dove and probably heard the voice. And then, Jesus quoting Scriptures that he knew reassured him that his task was complete.
We must have our promises of God’s Love, favorite Scriptures, or clear signs of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. When the doubts come, we can right the ship quickly by fervent prayer and reassurance from Jesus, just as Jesus reassured John with his message to John’s followers.
What Have We Learned thus far?
We have learned to:
- Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
- Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
- Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
- Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
- Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
- Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
- A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
- Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
- At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
- And to love, love, and love.
- Be trustworthy. Trust is required.
- And don’t worry. God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
- And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
- And never go against what God instructs us to do.
- And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered. Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
- Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.
- Understand that good cannot compromise with evil.
- And sometimes you have to weather the storms, both in the home and in the world of public opinion.
A Closing Prayer
We look to You for guidance. Sometimes we see Your mighty works before us, and we do not connect it with You. Sometimes we have proof positive that You are right there with us, and we fail to see it. And sometimes, after knowing that You are in our hearts to stay, we start second-guessing ourselves. Help us to stay in Your Word, for You speak to us most clearly through Your precious Word. You readily provide reassurance when we ask.
In Thy Name we pray,
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
Leave a Reply