There is an immediate connection made with the prophecy of Isaiah, who had talked of a messenger – “A voice of one calling in the wilderness” - who God would send to prepare the way for the coming of the promised Messiah.
This messenger is John the Baptist, who appeared in the desert of Judaea.
John’s role was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. He did this through telling people to repent as the Kingdom of Heaven was near.
Baptism was a Jewish ritual – people were totally immersed in water to symbolise cleansing. John’s baptism was a symbol of repentance.
John was a second Elijah. He dressed and acted almost exactly like Elijah. He ate wild locusts and honey, he wore clothes made of camel hair and he had a belt tied around his waist.
John was a forerunner to the Messiah. He said, “I baptise you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”