When Did John The Baptist Know?

Q. The book of John says that John The Baptist told the disciples that he didn’t know how Jesus was until the Spirit came in the form of a dove, but Mathew says that John stopped Jesus before the baptism to say he should be the one being baptized. I’m confused…if John The Baptist new enough to stop Him before the baptism, then how is it that in John he doesn’t know who He is until the dove?

A. The Bible doesn’t go into this in any detail, but we can piece together a pretty good scenario. The Jewish concept of the Messiah was that he would be blessed by God but would be a man, like King David. John and Jesus were cousins, only six months apart in age, and their mothers were close. Both mothers knew their sons were special in God’s sight. There might have been some contact between them growing up, and John would certainly have heard about the circumstances of the Lord’s birth, and that He had come to be Israel’s King. But when John saw the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, he perhaps understood for the first time that Jesus was far more than a mere man. He was God in the flesh.

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