“Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him ….”
Though he was in the wilderness of Judea and he was proclaiming “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” heads were turning! He was not attired in a smartly tailored camel hair sport coat, but a tunic made out of camel hair and girded with a leather belt. He was also eating a strange diet, not barley cakes and curds, but locusts and wild honey. Those passersby, whose attention was captured by this wild and wooly man, told others so that soon a crowd gathered most likely out of curiosity.
After the novelty of his appearance wore off, they began to listen intently to this man who was calling them to repent and to be aware that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. It was as if he held up a mirror to them and they saw themselves for the first time for what they were, namely sinners. They recognized the error of their ways. They were convicted by the truth he spoke.
Once they acknowledged their sins, they confessed them. They then submitted themselves to be baptized by the John the Baptist in the river Jordan. Their baptism was one of repentance, to symbolize the washing away of their sins. While the people submitted to this baptism, John told them that another mightier than he was coming and would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. He was referring to Jesus.
Whenever we become convicted of our sinfulness, we likewise are called to confess our sins, trusting that God will forgive us. In I John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, [God] who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
O God, we praise and thank you that we can confess our sins and that you will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.