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John the Baptist was the final prophet, the one blessed to introduce the long-awaited Savior to the world. And, like most prophets, he was martyred for the truth.
The Gospels describe him as a thin man living in the wilderness and clad in a rough camel-skin garment. It also describes him as sustaining himself on locusts and wild honey. To the modern mind, that seems like the most humble and penitential meal a person could have.
But to ancient people, they were both considered delicacies. It would be like a person claiming they only eat lobster and caviar. It showed how God took care of the Baptist's temporal needs, providing the best food for him.
He preached repentance and conversion to the people of Israel, revealing that the time of Israel's salvation was near. He baptized the repentant, symbolizing their desire to detach from sin and be worthy to receive the Savior.
"Indeed, I baptize you with water for repentance," he told them. "But He who will come after me is more powerful than me. I am not worthy to carry His shoes. He will baptize you with the fire of the Holy Spirit."
When the self-righteous Pharisees came to him, the Baptist did not hold back his tongue:
You progeny of vipers! Who told you to flee from the approaching wrath? So then, produce fruits worthy of repentance. And do not begin to say, "We have Abraham as our father." For I tell you that God has the power to raise up sons to Abraham from these stones. For even now the axe has been placed at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that does not produce good fruit shall be cut down and cast into the fire.
When Our Lord approached him for baptism, St. John was confused, asking, "I ought to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?"
The Lord answered, "Permit this for now. For in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all justice." It was the first time the sinless Lord took upon himself the sins of mankind by publicly doing a penitential act.
With His ablution, it can be said that Our Lord baptized baptism. And so, afterward, His disciples and the Apostles would go on to do the same, adding the trinitarian formula, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."
Once Our Lord's public ministry commenced, people would follow Him, with the Baptist saying, "He must increase and I must decrease."
At the end of the day, all people must also say that because St. Paul made it clear:
"Because of this, God has also exalted Him and has given Him a name which is above every name, so that, at the name of Jesus, every knee would bend, of those in Heaven, of those on earth, and of those in Hell, and so that every tongue would confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."
Learn more by watching The Download — Voice in the Wilderness.