John the Baptist is one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible. From his miraculous beginning, to his beheading, this relative of our Lord led a very interesting life.
He was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were beyond child-bearing years (Luke 1). He recognized the presence of the Lord even before they were born. He was a Nazarite from birth (Luke 1:15). Very little is known of him from his birth to this first mention of him in Matthew 3, but we can learn a few things about him.
His vow of the Nazarite was taken by his parents from his birth. In Numbers 6:1-21 the specifics of the vow are spelled out: no grapes, raisins, wine, nothing, and his hair was not to be cut. So we have a man living in the desert, wearing dredlocks, and camelhair clothes, eating locusts and honey. This is a man who would be if not unwelcome in most churches in America today, at least stared at and shunned.
Jesus talked about him in Matthew 11:7-15 and described him as a prophet. He didn’t mince words either. His message: REPENT! and people flocked to hear him. They wanted to hear this; they needed to hear this. And they listened with rapt attention, accepted his message, confessed their sins, and we’re baptized. Even the religious leaders came and he rebuked them.
As the day of Jesus second coming looks ever nearer, we need men and women like John to rise up and remind people, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!”