John the Baptist appeared unexpectedly on the stage of world history. He was a rugged individual who sparked history’s most significant spiritual awakening. To fully appreciate John’s influence, consider that, even though his pulpit was in a secluded desert , thousands came to hear his sermons. His life and work touched every segment of society. Politicians, paupers, prostitutes, kings, commoners, heretics and religious leaders listened to his message. His delivery was so dramatic and his character so sterling that people asked him, “Are you the prophet Elijah?” (John 1:21) or the promised Christ (Luke 3:15).
Amazingly, John the Baptist had none of the credentials we often associate with great leaders. He had no formal education. He had no money. He didn’t have friends in powerful places. He did not impress anyone with his tact. And no one ever accused him of dressing for success. Yet, according to Jesus Christ, neither Moses, Abraham, David, Elijah nor Daniel were greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28). It’s reasonable to ask what made John such a great man.
First John knew the meaning of sacrifice. Matthew tells of his simple food habits and clothing (Matt. 3:4). His devotion to Jesus Christ resulted in loneliness – John spent much of his time in the desert. Why did John live this way? He sacrificed everything for the sake of pure life. If he was to call the nation to repentance and prepare the way for Jesus, John had to be attuned to God.
Secondly, John’s sole purpose in life was to elevate somebody else. After he completed years of training, John’s public service began, and it became immediately clear that God had prepared the nation for his message. John lived to exalt God, revelled in Jesus Christ and called people to live for common good promoting a life of truth, justice and peace.