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remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’”.
John collectedaround him a company of disciples who he instructed in the mysteries of religion, andmany of them seem to have remained with him after he was cast into prison, till he was beheaded by Herod.(…) The mind of John the Baptist furnishes a remarkable example, which we oftenmeet with, of partial divine illumination, the clearest knowledge on some points andabsolute ignorance on others. By the light of inspiration he shadowed forth in a fewwords the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven, whose approach he foretold, and showed itto be something entirely different from the expectation of the Jews, handed down fromremote ages; yet of its details his ideas seem to have been vague, and he appears to havehad no certain knowledge that Jesus was the Messiah, though he had baptized Him andreceived the heavenly sign of which they had been forewarned. »»
John had no certain knowledge about the Messiah
“John the Baptist appears to have had no certain knowledge that Jesus wasthe Messiah”
needs clarification. At the time Jesus was baptised, John the Baptist thoughtthat he had the certain knowledge that Jesus was the Messiah. Until then he had knownHim personally, and he valued Him more highly than himself, but only after the foretoldsign of the Holy Ghost had taken place, who descended like a dove on Jesus, and after the‘Bath kole’ - the Voice of God - had resounded from heaven with (Mt. 3:17):
“You are Mybeloved Son, in You I am well pleased”
, only then did John know that Jesus was theprophesied Messiah. In the certainty of those days he exclaimed (John 1:34-35):
“This isthe Son of God!, and the next day, looking at Jesus: Behold the Lamb of God!”
But later, when locked up in the gloomy and stinking cell of the tetrarch Herod, he realised that hisexpectations concerning a glorious and a triumphant Messiah had been belied. And he was thrown back and forth between the certainty of his expectation and the certainty of the signs that were revealed to him, which now seemed a distant memory, and he startedto have agitating doubts about the Messiahship of Jesus – Who, after all, was his nephew.
2 – God loves all people
«« One truth which John the Baptist announced bears evident marks of supernaturalorigin – since it contradicted the conceptions and prejudices of the age – that theMessiah and his Kingdom were not to be national, not belonging de jure andexclusively to the posterity of Abraham alone. There is a maxim, as common as thevery letters of the alphabet, in the writings of the rabbis, that
“All Israel is to partake inthe world to come”,
that is, in the Messianic Kingdom, merely by virtue of their descentfrom Abraham. They had not the slightest notion that it was to be a kingdom selectedfrom Israel and other nations, a new community by no means coextensive with the seedof Abraham. That it was to be a moral and a spiritual kingdom was just as far from their concepts.
“Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand! (…) Bring forth, therefore, fruitsworthy of repentance, and say not, we have Abraham for our father, for God is able toraise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
(Mt. 3:2, 9). Do not imagine that youare to belong to the kingdom of God merely because you are descended from Abraham.God is able to raise up children to Abraham from a source now as improbable to you asthe stones beneath your feet, from among the Gentiles even, whom you are accustomedto call dogs, and count as the scum of the earth. A discrimination is about to take place,not between the children of Abraham and other nations, but between the good and the bad, even among the Jews themselves.(…) But after all this knowledge of the nature of the kingdom, or Christianity, whichwas possessed by John the Baptist, and after baptising Jesus with his own hands, andreceiving the divine testimony of which he had been forewarned, so possessed was hewith the Jewish prejudices, of the temporal splendor and power of the Messiah, and so