As the priests commenced their service at thirty, it was probably at that age that John began publicly to teach. He commenced with a message most appropriate to the coming of the Saviour.
He was dressed as Elijah had been, and lived a self-denying, ascetic life, in keeping with the ministry of repentance.
Matthew 3:5, 6
All ranks and classes came to him; he stirred the whole south of Palestine with his energetic ministry. To all men he addressed suitable words of rebuke and warning.
He bade them lay aside their boastings, and seriously give themselves up to repentance. This bold address would be sure to make them very angry, but John, like Elias, feared them not.
There was to be an end of all pretence and hypocrisy. For many years formalists and boastful professors had been great in Israel; the new dispensation would destroy all this, and require truth in the inward parts.
Matthew 3:11, 12
Thus the forerunner pointed to the Coming One, and bade the people look for one who in the power of the Spirit would scatter to the winds all the vainglory of learned Sadducees and boastful Pharisees, by proclaiming a spiritual religion in which repentance and faith would far outweigh external religiousness.
Perhaps six months after John had commenced, when Jesus would be himself thirty years of age. Our Lord came after the people had been baptized, and offered himself for baptism.
Matthew 3:14, 15
Jesus would set an example to all his disciples, and would in a figure set forth his own sufferings, death, burial, and resurrection, in which all righteousness is comprehended.
Matthew 3:16, 17
Thus while in the act of prayer, and while yielding obedience to his Father’s will, the Lord received his first great public attestation from above, and the anointing with which he should discharge his work. Let no believer neglect the ordinance which his Lord so highly honoured, lest he lose some special sealing and anointing.
Didst thou the great example lead,
In Jordan’s swelling flood?
And shall my pride disdain the deed
That’s worthy of my God?
Hast thou for me the cross endured,
And all the shame despised?
And shall I be ashamed, O Lord,
With thee to be baptized?