John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Ablutions in the East have always been more or less a part of religious worship — easily performed, and always welcome. Every synagogue, if possible, was by the side of a stream or spring; every mosque still requires a fountain or basin for lustrations. But John needed morn than this. No common spring or tank would meet the necessities of the multitudes who resorted to him for baptism. The Jordan now seemed to have met with its fit purpose. It was the one river of Palestine, sacred in its recollections, abundant in its waters; and yet, at the same time, the river, not of cities, but of the wilderness; the scene of the preaching of those who dwelt not in kings' palaces, nor wore soft clothing. On the banks of the rushing stream the multitudes gathered — the priests and scribes from Jerusalem, down the pass of Adunimim; the publicans from Jericho on the south, and the lake of Genesareth on the north; the soldiers on their way from Damascus to Petra, through the Ghor, in the war with the Arab chief, Hareth; the peasants from Galilee, with ONE from Nazareth, through the opening of the plain of Esdraelon. The tall "reeds" in the valleys waved, "shaken by the wind"; the pebbles of the bare clay hills lay around, to which the Baptist pointed as capable of being transformed into "children of Abraham"; at their feet rushed the refreshing stream of the never-failing river. There began that sacred rite which has since spread throughout the world.
Parallel VersesKJV: John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.