Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to [John], and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. (Matthew 3:5-6)
Why did people flock to John? Some came out of curiosity, to be sure, perhaps even many or most of them. Yet, even they were drawn by something deeper, because their visit resulted in repentance. Surely this can only be the result of the supernatural hand of God, stirring hearts in need of repentance towards a desire for repentance!
After all, John is not portrayed as a particularly eloquent or crowd-pleasing speaker, so the delivery wasn’t the key. He was in the wilderness, not a lovely temple, so the environment wasn’t the draw. He was dressed in rough garments, not in fine clothes that signified authority or appeal, so that wasn’t it, either.
No, it was simply a Spirit thing.
John served as a focal point for something God already wanted to do. He was not the cause, only a catalyst, and even that was not because of his own noble choice. It was because God called him.
So, here is the deep question for us today: if we want to see people come to faith in Christ and rally to repentance, what should we do?
Here are three suggestions…
- We should “Make every effort to make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) by focusing on our personal walk with God. It is doubtful John thought of making the desert his home base on his own. Surely this must have been revealed through his intimate relationship with God. This is why prayer is vital.
- We should pay attention to the times and seasons of the world around us. What is God already doing? How is He already stirring hearts and preparing them to respond to a catalyst?
- We must obey God when He tells us what to do, no matter how uncomfortable or unorthodox the instruction may seem. I doubt locusts, wild honey, desert life and came-hair clothing would have been at the top of John’s list of goals for his life, but there he was, being faithful…
And God responded in amazing ways.