In reading Matthew 3, I considered John the Baptist. Here we have a 30-ish year-old man, living out in the wilderness away from society, wearing anti-socialite clothing made from the hair of camels, eating locusts and honey.
Was he grime-encrusted? Did he have oily, stringy hair? Or did he spend enough time in the Jordan to be sparkling clean? Was the Jordan muddy or clean where he did his immersing?
I have no idea how one would make clothing from camel hair. I wonder if it'd be course and scratchy, or smooth. I wonder if it would be light and airy and cool during the hot days, or warm and toasty in the frigid nights. Would it be heavy when wet from the Jordan, or would water drain off easily?
Hmm; locusts and honey. Yummy. I did a quick Google and discovered that although bees are not acceptable eating according to Jewish dietary laws, honey is fine. And locusts are one of the few insects that are also kosher.
And he doesn't exactly have social schmoozing skills, as evidenced by his ranting against the elites who come to be part of the party.
Just what attracted the masses to this fellow living on the edge of society?
Luke tells us what John's message is. It's not about going to church three times a week, or avoiding alcohol, or knowing the correct rituals to follow in synagogue. It's a continuation of the Old Testament message to treat others properly (see this blog entry about the sense I had of the OT's over-arching themes), especially in the financial realm. When I get to the book of Luke, I'll likely have more to say about this.
We never much think about John, but I find him to be a rather interesting character.