And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
The evangelists dwell on the peculiarities of John's dress, food, and habits, as if the utmost importance attached to these, and they were an essential part of John's witness. To see the man was to apprehend his message. His peculiarities were not personal oddities, but designed ministry. How far his dress was the recognized prophet's dress cannot be decided; but it is clear that he designed to present an example of severe self-restraint as a marked contrast to the luxury and self-indulgence of that age. Illustrate by reference to Diogenes the Cynic, who testified against the gaiety and luxury of the Athenians. He limited his desires to necessities. He ate little, and what he ate was often the coarsest. His dress consisted solely of a cloak. A wallet and a huge stick completed his accoutrements. He lived in a tub. Note also the witness of the Quakers' plain garb; and the moral force of distinctive dress such as that worn by sisters of mercy, etc.
I. A MAN HIMSELF IS A POWER OF INFLUENCE. We are so constantly thinking of, and estimating, what a man does or says, that we are in danger of thinking that a man's power is exclusively his activity. Then we are likely to divorce character and work, and say, "It does not matter what a man is privately so that he does well publicly." But the fact is that the man himself does more than the man's activity. 'What he is is more important than what he does. His unconscious influence is more effective than his conscious. Here is the ministry of a man's words and works, but there is also the more searching ministry of the man himself. If John the Baptist had said nothing, he would have preached repentance by his clothes and by his food. From this impress the duty of making our dress and habits the simple expression of ourselves.
II. A MAN SHOULD CULTURE HIMSELF IN ORDER TO BE THE BEST POSSIBLE POWER OF INFLUENCE. Just this John did. He put his daily habits into severe self-restraint; reduced his clothes and food to the narrowest limits. And this because he intelligently set before himself a precise aim, and resolved to. secure fitness for accomplishing that aim. Impress the truth that a man is never his true self while he allows his personal influence to be a mere accident. Most men merely happen to influence. Noble men resolve to influence, decide how they will influence, and put themselves into holy restraints in order, to gain power. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.