“I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.” John 1:31-32
Two things stand out to me in this passage. John said that he didn’t recognize Jesus, but was told what would happen when he encountered the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. It strikes me as odd as Jesus was part of John’s extended family. Mary stayed with John’s mother Elizabeth when she was pregnant.
“Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.” Luke 1:39-45, 56
Maybe they didn’t grow up together. I can. It imagine not recognizing one of my family members, even if so had not seen them for a long time. I didn’t seem my aunt and cousin for over two decades and I still recognized them when we reconnected.
The second thing that stood out to me, is that John saw the Spirit descend and remain, like a dove, but not a dove. John saw the Holy Spirit. I wonder if this was a discernment on John’s part or if it was something more. John leaped in his mother’s womb when she encountered Mary pregnant with Jesus. The scripture above says “and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
When Jesus ascended into Heaven after His resurrection, He sent His Spirit to remain with us. Holy Spirt empowers us to be His witness, just as John bore witness.
Lord, I admit there is a lot about this Scripture I don’t understand but I know John recognized You as Messiah. I recognize You as Messiah also. I know just as the Holy Spirit rested on You that You sent Holy Spirit to fill and remain in me. You empower me to do Your will. Help me to let Him.