Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
Everyone knows preachers can be on the strange side, but John was in a different category of strange. He never had a haircut or a shave, not once his whole life. He lived out in the wilderness as a recluse, that alone can drive someone nuts. He dressed like a prophet from hundreds of years before his time, a camel skin of all things. And what about his diet, locusts and wild honey (isn’t a locust kind of like a giant grasshopper?). That all just sounds to weird, even for a preacher.
Jesus Himself called John the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Have you ever wondered why Jesus considered John the greatest? He never had miracles like Elijah, never wrote volumes like Isaiah, never fathered a nation like Abraham. John never instituted a religion like Moses, he never wrote psalms like David, he wasn’t a king like Solomon but still John was the greatest of all. Why is he the greatest, simply because of his revelation of Jesus. That was all John was about, he was the forerunner. “I am not Him,” John proclaimed, “there is one mightier than I coming after me”. He had a twofold revelation of Jesus as the Messiah. First, he saw Him as the Lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world. That is powerful, He saw Jesus as the sin offering for man. The second revelation was just as stunning. John said “I baptize with water, but the one coming after me shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit”. John actually saw the heavenly ministry of Jesus. He would be the offering for sin and then He would baptize, immerse totally, His followers into the Holy Spirit. That is a stunning revelation. While most everyone was looking for a powerful political messiah, John saw the Suffering Servant and the heavenly High Priest.
Many people today have ignored the second part of that prophesy. All Christians will acknowledge the work of Jesus at the cross, but many want to minimize or ignore the baptism in the Holy Spirit part. That is just too strange for the modern man, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is just for strange people. Maybe that is why John was so strange! He was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb.