In speaking of Jesus at his baptism, John the Baptist said, “I did not know him,” which I find interesting, because John and Jesus were cousins and certainly would have visited each other during childhood and early adulthood. John goes on to say, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” In effect, John knew Jesus as his cousin, but did not know him as Son of God until the baptism. This made me think of the difference between knowing someone and really knowing someone: an acquaintance vs. a good friend, or knowing about someone, as opposed to having a personal connection.
For Christians it’s knowing Jesus vs. really knowing him. It’s the story of our experience of Jesus. There’s the intellectual knowing of Jesus, the definitions and concepts of Jesus as Son of God, the Promised Savior, the baby in the manger, the preacher and teacher. This is one way of knowing Jesus, which is really knowing about him. It’s the basic level of knowledge we get from our Christian formation programs. It’s also the level of further theological education and studies to improve our understanding, as much as we can, of the person of Jesus and the nature of faith, the concept of vocation, etc.
There’s another level of knowing, a deeper level, a more mature level, where we make a personal connection. This is not dependent on the level of our theological education. John the Baptist didn’t deeply know Jesus until the baptism revealed who he was to John. Perhaps there are times in our own experience when who Jesus really is became clear to us, and we connected with him on a personal level.
Perhaps it was a sense of the Lord’s closeness to us at a significant event, such as the death of a loved one, or the birth of a child, or the celebration of a milestone event in our life. Perhaps it was in a more quiet manner during a sunset walk along a beach, or experiencing a natural wonder (maybe a trip to the Grand Canyon), or sitting in quiet reflection in our home with a cup of tea in front of the fireplace–times when we didn’t know just about Jesus, but came to know him as he is for us, in a much more personal way.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)