This is the Son of God!
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And would not have known him, except that 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 the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)
Having been told what would happen, John the Baptist recognizes and takes note with reflection and acute interest the Holy Spirit descending from heaven and manifesting Himself in the form of a dove and abiding on Jesus. So certain was he of what his ears had heard and now his eyes beheld that John the Baptist exclaimed with great assurance:
“I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God”(John 1:34).
It must be overwhelming to experience what one has only been told and believed through faith and then subsequently be given the privilege to actually see it. At the end of the book of Job we find a similar situation where faith becomes sealed with sight:
Then Job replied to the LORD: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)
I am reminded of Peter’s response to Jesus’ question about who the disciples thought He was: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
And then Jesus replied to Peter:
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16-17)
Just as with John the Baptist and Job, it was the Father in heaven who revealed this truth to Peter. It mattered not to them that Jesus was not clad in external pomp and grandeur; they were not ashamed to confess freely that Jesus was God’s Son.
Just as the prophet Isaiah had prophesized:
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:2-5)
John tells us that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. John’s cleansing with water was one thing, but the cleansing that would be produced by the Holy Spirit would be totally different. After His suffering and resurrection Jesus gave convincing proofs to His followers that He was indeed alive and commanded them to wait for the gift of the promised Holy Spirit. Just as John identified people with himself through the baptism of water, now Jesus would identify His followers through the Holy Spirit bestowing upon them His gifts and graces and comforts. This is a confirmation of the John’s words “I baptize you with water. But after me comes one who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Jesus confirms John’s message in the book of Acts:
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:3-5)
Take It to Heart
Jesus’ appearance was not what the people expected–they were looking for pomp and splendor. Likewise, as a believer in Jesus I am to be not what the world expects, empowered by the Holy Spirit and showing forth the humility and love of Jesus through my words and deeds.