Daily Devotions


Day 21

A Brief Description of John The Baptizer

Text: Matthew 3:1-17

Who was this great forerunner of the Messiah? John recorded a brief description of the attire that John wore.

“And John himself was clothed in camel’s hair,
with a leather belt around his waist…”
Matthew 3:4

It is likely that Matthew described the clothes that John wore, on purpose. John’s clothing was similar to that worn by Elijah of ancient times.

“Then he (King Ahaziah) said to them, ‘What
kind of man was it who came up to meet you
and told you these words?’

So they answered him, ‘A hairy man wearing
a leather belt around his waist.’ And he said,
‘It is Elijah the Tishbite.'”
2 Kings 1:7-8

The attire chosen by the prophet Elijah was most down to earth and practical. If one were to live in the wilderness, what better clothes could be chosen than the ones described?

In ancient days, the garment that a person wore marked him out as a prophet. This may be understood from a text found in the Book of Zechariah.

“And it shall be in that day that every prophet
will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies;
they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive.”
Zechariah 13:4

The context of this verse is that of a stern rebuke of false prophets. They tried to disguise themselves as true prophets by wearing “robes of coarse hair”.

The garment that John the Baptizer wore was of great symbolic meaning. He was identifying himself as a prophet of the most ancient tradition – going all the way back to Elijah no less!


Like his ancient predecessor, John lived in the wilderness. How easily we dismiss the hardship that John (and Elijah of old) had to endure, all for the sake of serving the Lord.

1. Enduring loneliness

John had to endure great loneliness. God had His own reasons why He shut Elijah and John in the wilderness. The only company that they kept would be with the Lord Himself! How hard it must have been to live in such solitude.

2. Great physical discipline

John had to content himself with whatever food he could find in the wilderness. Matthew noted this fact about John’s diet.

“And His food was locusts and wild honey.”
Matthew 3:4

It would take a man of tremendous mental and physical discipline to have survived in the wilderness as John did!

Matthew’s description of John’s physical attire and diet was written out of admiration for this servant of God!

3. In close communion with God

To be a prophet of God was no easy task! To be a forerunner of the Messiah was twice as difficult. Who would believe a person who lived in the wilderness, dressed as John did?

John would need all the spiritual power he could obtain from God to do the work that he was called to perform. He would have to be very courageous in his speech. He would have to know his message very well. He would have to wield tremendous spiritual might in order to be successful.

No rabbinic school would have been able to produce a man like John the baptizer. Indeed, he could not be associated with any of the religious schools of thought existing in those days! John just had to be in the wilderness, in close communion with the Lord, awaiting the day when he would commence his role as the forerunner of the Messiah.


How effective was John’s ministry? It is one thing to describe how a person may attempt to serve the Lord, it is quite another to assess his ministry.

“Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the
region around the Jordan went out to him,
and were baptized by him in the Jordan,
confessing their sins.”
Matthew 3:5-6

John the Forerunner was a resounding success!

1. A great multitude of people came to John (Note the geographical description)!

2. Hearts were touched! People were confessing their sins.

3. People were seeking baptism, as a sign of repentance.

Success of this nature could only mean one thing. John was confirmed as that special servant of the Lord. He was found faithful in his life and ministry, and God was blessing the word he preached with obvious fruit!