John himself had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. Matthew 3:4-6 HCSB
I was one of the co-leaders of the Follow-Up Committee for the Billy Graham Crusade in Nashville, Tennessee. Each evening people from the area would flock to the stadium to hear Billy Graham speak. At the end of the message he would challenge the people to get up from their seats and come forward to the platform to confess their sins and accept Jesus as Lord. The people who came forward were counseled concerning their decision. It was our committee’s job to process the information gathered by the counselors, send a letter to the one making a decision, and send a letter to a local pastor so he could follow-up with the person making the decision to help him get involved in a church and be baptized.
Many people flocked to hear the message of the “crazy man” in the wilderness. John wore different clothes and ate unusual food. John lived differently from other people to show that his message was new and different. He not only preached God’s law, he lived it. Certainly, some people came to hear John just out of curiosity but ended up turning from their sins as they listened to his powerful message. Baptism was used as a symbolic expression of repentance and forgiveness. The people were turning from their sins, changing behavior, and turning to God. The Jews used baptism to initiate converts, so John’s audience would have been familiar with the ritual.
Challenge: Baptism does not save a person, but it is used as a public expression of what has happened inwardly in the life of a person. Have you confessed your sins and accepted Christ as your Lord? Have you been baptized as an expression of your faith?