Many preachers want to stay away from what they call negativism when they peddle their message of prosperity. Their desire for health, wealth, and the best life now has led them and their followers to a place where God is absent and hope is lost. The sad part is that they often do not even know it.
Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to [John the Baptist] and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1.5-8)
The verbs in verse five along with the word all communicate the idea of a steady stream of people from Judea and Jerusalem going out to John for baptism. The baptism was evidence of the fact that they had repented. The confessing of their sins means that they acknowledged the sin in their lives.
John’s baptism was unique. He preached judgment and condemnation upon the hypocrisy and sin of the Jews. This led many of them to repent. Negative aspects like judgment and condemnation need to be preached to bring hope.
Mark 1.6 parallels Elijah described in the same fashion in 2 Kings 1.8. Since Elijah is the quintessential prophet, this descriptor of John indicates his office as the last of the OT prophets. The rustic dress and diet of John set him apart from the religious leaders of the time. The streams of people coming to him are a harbinger of the fulfillment of God’s promise for Israel.
R. K. Hughes writes, “John’s dress and lifestyle were a protest against the godlessness and self-serving materialism of his day. It amounted to a call to separate oneself from the sinful culture, repent, and live a life focused on God.”
- John lived a life of repentance.
- John’s devotion was without compromise.
- John’s preaching was fearless.
- John’s humility demanded that people look to the One coming that was mightier than he.
When John preached, the truth was poured through his character, desire, and whole being. The Word of God came through him. This is the power of John the Baptist. If we will allow the truth of God’s Word to completely dominate and saturate our lives, we too can have great power in our ability to witness. The baptism of John demanded that his followers identify with the way being prepared for them!
 Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark : Jesus, servant and savior. Preaching the Word (21). Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.