26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know,
26 John answered them,
John shifted the focus from himself to another. He cleared away misconceptions about himself to the One who could truly redeem Israel.
“I baptize with water,
To baptize was a claim for religious authority. John’s call was for Israel to repent of their ideas about the Messiah. Baptism was not an end in itself but was to point to the One who brought reality. The “I” is emphatic, making a contrast to the Messiah.
There is a great difference between what John did and what the Messiah would do. However, John acknowledged that he had the authority to baptize with water. John’s task was to usher Jesus in as the Messiah, the King of Israel who would reign over the nation. God charged John with the introduction of the Messiah to the world. This whole idea was an invasion into the religious domain of that day.
but among you [emphatic] stands one you do not know,
John indicated that the Messiah was already in their midst but they did not know it. “You” is emphatic. John said in effect, “Jesus is here and you don’t even know it!”
People reject Christ even though it is clear who He is.
The ministry of John the Baptist exposed the Jews to what they did not know about the Messiah and His kingdom. God exposes people to their sin and rebellion. That is why so many reject Him as truth.
It is possible for Jesus to be right in the midst of a situation and yet for people to remain blind to Him completely.