A Glimpse of John the Baptist: Mark 1:4-8
“4) John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5) And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6) John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7) And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8) I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”” Mark‬ ‭1‬:‭4‬-‭8‬ ‭
Each of the four Gospels describe John the Baptist and his influential ministry. God used him to spark a revival that prepared the way for the Messiah. After years of relative silence, his public ministry was like fresh air to the mundane spiritual routine and fog that overshadowed Palestine. What caused him to stand out?
First, his message stood out. He came preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He called people to repent and baptized those who responded. This message and method was not part of Old Testament religious ceremony.
Second, his appearance stood out. he was a rugged man clothed in a garment of camels hair with a leather belt about his waist. What a contrast to the robes and costly garments of the religious elite that paraded about Jerusalem.
Third, his diet stood out. He ate locusts and wild honey. Some say he dinned on the locust plant, others say it was grasshoppers and wild honey. I can imagine the stinging ritual of locating and gathering wild honey. This guy qualified as a hermit. His diet was accommodated by the Law but by no means prescribed by the Law.
Fourth, his physical address stood out. He dwelt in the wilderness of Judea. He may have been homeless or more accurately, he made the wilderness his home. He did not abide in a palace. He was unknown among the high society of Jerusalem.
Fifth, his appeal stood out. People started going out to him from all across Judea and the whole city of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River to confess their sins and be baptized. There was a definite shift in traffic flow from Jerusalem to the Jordan River. I can start smelling serious jealousy from the religious leaders in Jerusalem.
Sixth, his purpose stood out. He came to prepare the way for the Messiah. He pointed to the One who would come after him and baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)
Finally, his loyalty to Jesus stood out. When the public focus shifted to Jesus and His ministry, the disciples of John came in a panic wanting John to do damage control. His classic response is recorded in John 3:30; “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
So what can we learn from John the Baptist? Be yourself. Fulfill your calling. Uphold biblical righteousness. Call people to repentance. Point everyone to Jesus. Know when to get out of the way.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global