John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stands one among you, whom you know not;
I. A STARTLING WONDER. Christ unknown.
1. Not from want of evidence then or previously.
(1) The world manifested its Maker;
(2) Conscience reflected His light;
(3) Prophecy and type shadowed His person and ministry. Abraham saw His day. Moses spoke of Him. To Him gave all the prophets witness.
(4) John proclaimed Him.
2. Not from want of evidence now. In addition to all the above,
(1) The Holy Spirit testifies of Him.
(2) The Christian consciousness of eighteen centuries fulfils the promise of His perpetual presence.
(3) His ambassadors declare Him.
(4) His sacraments embody Him. How strange that He should be amongst the children of His people, the hearers of His gospel, and yet not be known!
II. A STERN NECESSITY. In the knowledge of Him, and in that alone standeth our eternal life. That knowledge is the beginning, the middle and the end of Christianity.
1. The beginning. Christ's first invitation echoed by His first convert was "Come and see." Isaiah saw His glory, and was cleansed for service. When Paul saw Christ he became a new man.
2. The continuance. The development of Christian life depends on growing knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 12:2; cf. 3:1).
3. Its consummation is in heaven, where we shall see His face, and be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.
III. A BLESSED OPPORTUNITY. "There standeth."
(1) Stationary — not shifting, coming and going.
(2) Patient — not wearied by procrastination, but waiting to be gracious.
(3) Accessible. "Lo, I am with you alway." "Now is the accepted time."
2. What as?
(1) A sympathizer.
(2) A Saviour.
(3) A personal friend.
IV. A FEARFUL ALTERNATIVE.
1. To know Christ is to be known of Him. Christ knows His sheep. He recognizes us when our friends have ceased to do so; when it is difficult to do so; in poverty and obloquy; at the last day.
2. Not to know Christ is to be disowned by Him. "I never knew you."
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;