John the Baptist

Zechariah and Elizabeth were childless and advanced in age when Gabriel announced that Elizabeth would bear a son. The baby would be named John, and he would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). John the Baptist lived and preached in the wilderness of Judea, where he wore clothes made of camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey (Mark 1:4–6). John prepared the way for Jesus the Messiah by calling people to repentance, as the OT prophets had predicted (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1). Those who accepted his message were baptized as an outward sign of their inward cleansing from sin. Although Jesus needed no repentance or cleansing, he was baptized by John in order to identify with the sinful people he came to save. After angering the royal Herod family, John was imprisoned and eventually beheaded (Matt. 14:6–12). (John 1:29–34)