29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” His voice trembled as water dripped from his outstretched finger and scraggly beard into the river where he stood.
People might have dismissed this wild man as they would have any other tortured soul driven to live in the caves and wadis of the Judean wilderness—were it not for the fact that people knew his story. Or rather, they knew his parents Zechariah and Elizabeth.
…It wasn’t just minimalist living that brought John to the desert; it was his call from the Lord to proclaim the message he had been born to tell.
…Wild and fearless, looking like he had grown out of the banks on which he stood, he called to all who passed, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
…He was like the prophet Isaiah had said. “The voice of the one crying in the wilderness: Prepared the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.”
…People came from all over the world to the Jordan to step into that water with John the Baptizer.
…Israel was a nation with a story, a well-rehearsed narrative…John was part of that tale, and so were they. And yet, like so many of their countrymen, they had begun to forget the story of God’s promises to them…It was the story of how Jacob’s line came to be a nation—sometimes mighty, sometimes fragile, but always prone to wander and forget their God.