We continue with our study in the Gospel of St John
Text John 1:23-28
He said, I am the voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness [the voice of one shouting in the desert], Prepare the way of the Lord [level, straighten out, the path of the Lord], as the prophet Isaiah said.
The messengers had been sent from the Pharisees.
And they asked him, Why then are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?
John answered them, I [only] baptize in (with) water. Among you there stands One Whom you do not recognize and with Whom you are not acquainted and of Whom you know nothing.
It is He Who, coming after me, is preferred before me, the string of Whose sandal I am not worthy to unloose.
These things occurred in Bethany (Bethabara) across the Jordan [at the Jordan crossing], where John was then baptizing.
John answered his questioners by saying, I am a voice of one crying loud and forcefully in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, just as the prophet Isaiah has prophesied. Those who had been sent to question John were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, why then are you immersing if you are neither the Christ nor Elijah nor the Prophet? John answered them saying, I am immersing in water: in your midst is standing One whom you have not recognized, the One coming after me, Whose sandals thongs I am not worthy to untie. These things came to pass in Bethany which is on the eastern side of the Jordan river where John was immersing.
In summary John’s answer to the Jew’s question is: “I am the prophecied ‘way-preparer’ for the Lord.” Then John intimates that the Christ they seek stands unrecognized in their midst.