This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.
Amazingly John was not in on the secret. Even though he was a cousin of Jesus he did not know who he was. Undoubtedly he recognized him as his cousin, but he never knew him as the Christ until he baptized him. In some of the apocryphal gospels Jesus is reported as doing miracles as a child. For example, making a pigeon out of clay and then making it come alive. These stories do not carry the ring of truth and John would certainly have thought his cousin a bit out of the ordinary if they had have been.
John's message was to Israel, but Israel didn't listen.