And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
The preaching of the Baptist was —
1. Stern, as was natural to an ascetic whose very aspect and mission were modelled on the example of Elijah. The particulars of his life, dress, food — the leathern girdle, mantle of camel's hair, living on locusts and wild honey — are preserved for us by the other evangelists, and they gave him that power of mastery over others which always springs from perfect self-control, and absolute self-abnegation. Hence "in his manifestation and agency he was like a burning torch; his whole life was a very earthquake; the whole man was a sermon."
2. Absolutely dauntless. The unlettered Prophet of the desert has not a particle of respect for the powerful Sadducees and long-robed, luxurious Rabbis, and disdains to be flattered by their coming to listen to his teaching. Having nothing to hope for from man's favour, he has nothing to fear from man's dislike.
3. It shows remarkable insight into human nature, and into the needs and temptations of every class which came to him — showing that his ascetic seclusion did not arise from any contempt of, or aversion to, his fellow-men.
4. It was intensely practical. Not only does it exclude all abstract and theological terms such as "justification," &c., but it says nothing directly of even faith or love. In this respect it recalls the Old Testament, and might be summed up in the words of Balsam, preserved in Micah 6:8.
5. Yet, though it still belongs to the dispensation of the shadow, it prophesies of the dawn. His first message was "Repent"; his second, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
6. It does not claim the credentials of a single miracle. Without a "sign" it stirred to its depths the heart of a sign-demanding age. What enormous moral force, then, it must have possessed.
7. It had only a partial and temporary popularity. The lamp is laid aside when the sun has dawned.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;