A. WHAT DID JOHN THE BAPTIST KNOW ABOUT JESUS AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?
John's first encounter with Jesus was while both of them were still in their mothers' wombs, at which time John, apparently recognizing his Saviour, leaped for joy (Luke 1:44). Much later, while John is baptizing, he refers to Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world", and "the Son of God" (John 1:29, 36). Later still, John is thrown in prison from which he does not return alive. John's definite knowledge of Jesus as the son of God and saviour of the world is explicitly contradicted by Luke 7:18-23 in which the imprisoned John sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, "Are you the one who is coming, or do we look for someone else?"This dogmatic ignorance is getting a bit tiresome. Luke 7 and Matthew 11 tell us that John did indeed send two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the One who was coming. This proves what? Certainly not that Luke contradicted what the earlier records say. It only reveals the humanity of John who was battered by the treatment he was undergoing and the ambiguity of Jesus' behavior in light of John's expectations. Who doesn't declare in the day what is clearly true, only to doubt in the night when things are difficult? If this is the best our objector has, he would do far better to put up his writing materials and go out on the town.
B. WHY DID JOHN BAPTIZE JESUS?
John baptized for repentance (Matthew 3:11). Since Jesus was supposedly without sin, he had nothing to repent of. The fact that he was baptized by John has always been an embarrassment to the church. The gospels offer no explanation for Jesus' baptism, apart from the meaningless explanation given in Matthew 3:14-15 "to fulfill all righteousness." Other passages, which indicate that Jesus did not consider himself sinless, are also an embarrassment to the church (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). Luke, who claims to be chronological (Luke 1:3), tries to give the impression that John did not baptize Jesus. Luke's account of Jesus' baptism occurs after the account of John's imprisonment (Luke 3:20-21).Anyone who can read can tell that even John was puzzled by Jesus' insistence that John baptize Him (Matthew 3:14). Our objector's claim that Jesus' baptism by John has always been an embarrassment to the Church is pure hogwash. I don't know which "church" this objector is sympathizing with, but it isn't any of the many I know. The claim that Jesus' explanation of why He wanted John to baptize Him is meaningless only proves one thing: our objector can make no sense of it. Apparently he doesn't realize that by this he has doomed his claims to omniscience and intelligence and erased any reason whatsoever for us to believe anything he writes.
He goes on to claim that Jesus did not consider Himself sinless and proves it by citing Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19. But it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that these verses don't prove that Jesus didn't consider Himself sinless. All they prove is that He believed that only God was good. Now, if He believed Himself to be God, He believed Himself to be good, not sinful. The only way these verses could argue that Jesus didn't consider Himself sinless is if it can be proved that He didn't consider Himself to be God in the flesh. The plain truth is that both texts are in a context of a man who had a relative sense of goodness that let him believe he was qualified to inherit eternal life. Jesus' question simply forced him to junk two things at once: 1) his own self-confidence in his own goodness; and 2) his weak-kneed identification of the Son of God as a Good Teacher only.
Then there is the ludicrous statement that Luke gave the impression that Jesus was baptized after John was imprisoned so that Luke, being so horribly embarrassed about Jesus being baptized by John, slipped in a sleight of hand to throw off this horrible embarrassment! The further this tripe continues the worse it gets! Luke used an aorist tense in telling us that Jesus was baptized. This meant that he was referring to a time in the past when it happened. That he went from John's ministry to his imprisonment before he took up Jesus' ministry has nothing whatsoever to do with embarrassment. He simply finished up the material on John before he embarked on Jesus' ministry. His use of the aorist indicates that he was falling back to an earlier time, so he was not inconsistent at all with his declared intent to write things in order.
C. WHY DIDN'T JOHN THE BAPTIST BECOME A FOLLOWER OF JESUS?
If John knew that Jesus was the son of God, why didn't he become a disciple of Jesus? And why didn't all, or even most, of John's disciples become Jesus' disciples? Most of John's disciples remained loyal to him, even after his death, and a sect of his followers persisted for centuries. The gospel writers were forced to include Jesus' baptism in their gospels so that they could play it down. They could not ignore it because John's followers and other Jews who knew of Jesus' baptism were using the fact of his baptism to challenge the idea that Jesus was the sinless son of God. The gospel writers went to great pains to invent events that showed John as being subordinate to Jesus.This is pure fabrication with not one ounce of evidence. Note: pontification does not a truth make. There is not one shred of evidence that the Gospel writers went to great pains to invent events, but there is plenty of evidence that our objector fabricates on an almost non-stop basis. John was Jesus' greatest supporter. The question as to why many people didn't become Jesus' disciples, even from among John's group is easily answered: why hasn't our objector become a disciple of Jesus? Because he doesn't want to. It has nothing to do with facts. It has to do with coming under the authority of Jesus--something that most people flatly refuse to do. It is no surprise that many of John's own loyalists were in that group. The Gospel writers were not forced to include Jesus' baptism. If they were the liars and fabricators our objector has made them out to be, they wouldn't feel compelled to write anything that went against their case. Come on, be consistent. Either our Gospel writers were men who would lie and be plumb stupid (like saying Jesus sat on two donkeys at the same time)--so that they would have no compunctions at all in denying Jesus was baptized by John--or they were honest witnesses who wrote the truth so that we could make up our own minds about what they said instead of being told by some late 20th century pseudo-scholar what is and isn't the case.