The next few weeks we hear more about John so we learn a bit more about the forerunner. John the Baptist before his public mission lived as if he was a cave man of the ancient world. He wore a wild animal skin made of camel's hair and leathered belt and lived in the wilderness. Apart from having locust and wild honey for daily food he was nourished with the spiritual food which was much more important than his daily intake. He inherited the spiritual food from his pious elderly parents. John was son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, who were of a priestly family (Lk. 1:5). The couple was righteous before God. John's conception was about six months older than Jesus (1:26). It was foretold that this child would be filled with the Spirit of God, even from his mother's womb, and that his role was forerunner and prepare the way for Jesus. The Scriptures said nothing about the death of his father- Zacharias - though legend tells us that Zacharias was slain by Herod the Great that forced Elizabeth to flee with her babe into the wilderness area of Judea. Luke said about the hidden life of John as follows:
Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel. Lk1:80
John's vocation was calling people to change their way of life towards God. He held no high profile in the society and yet his message made home to thousands. They flocked in to listen to him and receive baptism from him. He was popular but had never lost sight of his mission. His popularity earned him high respect amongst the people but John himself was humbly to say:
I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptised you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Lk 3,16
John knew of his vocation- going before Christ and preparing the way for His coming. John set out with one singular purpose in mind and had spent the entirely life completing his vocation, which was the mission to advocate for Christ. He preached about repentance of sin with youthful force and boldness and he practiced what he preached. He shed blood for what he believed. His skills and talents and honesty accompanied the message he preached and that had drawn all walks of life to make the conversion of their hearts to be his disciples. Seven centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah had foretold that John come to prepare the way for Jesus.
A voice cries, Prepare in the wilderness a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain and the ridges a valley; then the glory of Yahweh shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it. Is 40,3
And the minor prophet Malachi 3,1 in his short book also declared:
I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his temple
The message refers to John and Jesus. The former refers to John who went before to prepare the way and the latter refers to Jesus who entered the temple during his public ministry and the final temple was his cross.