If John appeared today, would you bother to go out to him to hear him speak? Between verse 5, where we find John baptizing in the Jordan River and verse 7 where we’re given his message, we find a peculiar verse inserted regarding his attire and diet. What may seem at first to be an odd comment in the middle of an important Gospel message and perhaps even an interruption to the flow herein, is indeed significance. Of particular consistency here in the beginning of Mark’s Gospel is that John, though a great prophet (Matthew 11:11), did not ascribe himself to the traditional trappings of his high office. His appearance (life) stood in stark contrast to that of the world, especially the “important” of his time.
Jesus, of whom John prophesies, appears in kind. Not born into wealth or social status, He appears as a simple infant without raiment. Jesus comes to identify in every way with us – even to the point of facing Satan himself and experiencing his full power of temptation to sin. Because of this supernatural power, we were lost in our sin, helpless as mere humans to overcome. Soon, and without sinning, Jesus will identify with and become sin on our behalf in order to take its power along with His own life. Jesus will metaphorically “drink our cup of poison”, nullifying its power to destroy us.
First order of His business is water baptism, publicly demonstrating a turning point from his former “secular” status to that of His new life in His Father’s ministry. To this, we hear directly from the mouth of God “…with you (my beloved), I am well pleased.”