- John is still in the womb at his first meeting with Jesus, who is also in the womb, working His first miracle of grace for John, who is sanctified in the womb, leaping for joy while his mother, Elizabeth, is filled with the Holy. This means that, unlike us, John is born holy, and the greatest among all those born of women for this reason. But Jesus says that the smallest in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. That would be Mary, who calls herself the Immaculate Conception. She was sanctified not just later on in the womb, but at the very moment of her conception. She was already transformed in grace from that very moment, when she is so very small, and so very humble, already rejoicing in the greatness of the Lord. She, as Queen of Heaven and Earth, angels and men, the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, is still the Immaculate Conception. Transformed in grace at that instant, she was already doing the will of God and continued that until now. Yes, she’s greater in her smallness, in her humility.
- The second meeting is the baptism of Jesus. John is the greatest prophet. He knows all the prophesies about the Messiah being the Suffering Servant. He knows all about the Lamb in the future that God would provide as the One to take away our sins. But he is stunned – in the moment – that Jesus would come down for his baptism, which was, after all, unto the remission of sin, and the Messiah would be sinless. Jesus’ explanation was brief, and John, being the greatest, understood. The symbolism of the baptism was that people were admitting that they were guilty of enslaving each other in sin, and should be punished with drowning just like the soldiers and charioteers of Pharaoh, pursuing the chosen people in the Red Sea, were drowned for having enslaved the chosen people in physical labor. If Jesus were to come down into the waters He would be saying to His Heavenly Father: “Father, treat me as if I’m guilty for having enslaved everyone in sin, from Adam until the last man is conceived.” John understood: Jesus is the suffering servant. Jesus was then baptized. But then Jesus said that now He longs for the Baptism for which He came, the baptism in His own blood.
- The third meeting between John and Jesus was by proxy. John was now in prison for having preached about Jesus and for having preached the commandments terribly out of season, to Herod. He would surely get his head cut off. So John has a snarky kind of rude question asked to Jesus by his disciples: “Are you really the Messiah, or should we look for another.” After all, it’s just fine for the Messiah to be the Suffering Servant, but – Hey! – what about John in prison?! Jesus lists off all the things that the disciples of John had already seen, the sick cured, the dead raised, all that. But Jesus doesn’t include freedom specifically for John the prisoner, but simply adds: “Blessed are those who take no offense at me” (the subtext being: even those who don’t get something for themselves in this world). John has to figure out what this means, and there is only one possible meaning, that Jesus considers John to be such a good friend that He is going to allow John to share in the Messiah’s sufferings. This is about friendship. It’s a privilege to witness to Jesus even unto death. John was then, of course, supremely happy. His was a happy death.
John is – dare I say it – a Co-Redeemer in the sense that he also belongs to the Body of Christ. When Christ lays down His life for us He also lays down our lives. Thank you, Jesus, our Redeemer alone, but with friends. “I call you friends.”