The Old Testament verses that prophesy John’s ministry call him the “voice of one crying in the wilderness”. That word “crying” doesn’t just mean that he was loud. It means that his crying out was a manifestation of feeling; the outward expression of what was going on in the heart of the man. He wasn’t just saying some words, fulfilling some obligation to preach. But he was releasing what was burning on the inside of him.
Matthew 3:5 tells us “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him” – the people knew that there was something different about John. He wasn’t like the rabbis that they listened to each Sabbath, who gave lifeless instruction, but there was a quality present in John’s preaching that was unique. And it drew people.
If you went to hear John preach and took your notepad, you would probably come home with a blank paper. You wouldn’t have a list of five ways to be a better law-keeper, or ten ways to be a better Jew. But you would have come away with a heart on fire for this God that John preached.
All those years shut away in the wilderness seeking God had produced a man whose heart burned for God. He was passionate for God. And when he spoke, you knew it.