As I read through the One Year Bible passages, something surprised me. It was in John 1:29-51 particularly where John the Baptist declares two times that he did recognize Jesus as the Messiah (v. 31 and 33).

 29.The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30.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.’ 31I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33I 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.’ NLT

I was flabbergasted that both times, John shouted “Look!”, followed by his admission that he did not know that his own cousin was the Messiah. I thought how could that be? I mean he leapt in his mother, Elizabeth’s, womb. Elizabeth prophesied. Mary stayed with her for a while. Joseph knew, and I assume that John’s father, Zachariah, knew. It was pretty big news for Elizabeth not to have shared it with her husband.

Of course the revelation of Jesus was a guarded secret until the appointed time for the masses to know. I just thought that John would have been in on it, that he would have known all along. Apparently not. Can you imagine the irony of having the Answer in front of you all along, but not see it? A great portion of the life of John was making way for the Messiah and then when he finally sees him he's like I didn't know that He (Jesus) was the Messiah. My own cousin no less.

It brought to mind two things: The first one was how we, Gentiles, can have Jesus right in front of us and not recognize Him until God reveals Him to us. The second thing was how John’s life mirrors the Jewish experience with Jesus.

As I thought about the Gentile experience, I saw my own life. Growing up Muslim, I knew who Jesus was as a prophet. As a great man to be respected. He is in the Qu’ran along with many other Biblical figures. I knew that he was not a fictional character. But it wasn’t until God called me out of darkness that I could say like John the Baptist “Look! It’s the Messiah. He was there all along , but I did not recognize him.“

I also was reminded of how many people “grow up in the church”. They sing the songs. They memorize scriptures and say Amen. They are filled with so much head knowledge, but they are still lost without the revelation of God when He pricks their hearts. Opens their eyes. Removes the veil. It isn’t until God calls them out like he did Lazarus saying, “Come forth!”, that they see the Messiah. We don't, or rather can’t recognize Him until God calls us out in his timing.

Timing brought the second thing, Israel’s experience with the Messiah, to mind. It seemed to mirror John’s life. Here are the parallels that I saw. (1) At the beginning of John’s life (still in Elizabeth’s womb), he and a very small percentage of Jews including his parents, Jesus's parents and the prophet Anna, had it revealed to them who Jesus was. The Messiah.

During Jesus’ ministry only a very small percentage of Jewish population got the revelation and believed that Jesus was the Messiah. (2) There was a large time gap in John’s life where he was in the wilderness and he prepared the way for the Messiah (who was already with him, but John did not recognize Him, because It wasn’t the right time). And from the crucifixion until almost the end of the world, the Jews are in a time gap waiting and preparing for the Messiah. Trying to complete the rebuilding of Soloman’s Temple…searching for the perfect red heifer to consecrate it. They've been making preparations like John did.  (3) Towards the ends of John's life, he suddenly understood Jesus was the Messiah. The one for whom he had been striving to prepare the way. The same thing can be seen with Jews even now. By grace they are behind the veil blinded, and when that veil is removed they will see and declare like John the Baptist,who Jesus is. He's the Messiah.

by Tajmah Bailey, Women's Ministry Team

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