Before beginning his public ministry, St. John the Baptizer lived as a religious hermit, or an anchorite. But at the age of 30 he began preaching around the Jordan River against the evils of the times, calling for penance and baptism. The sincerity and strength of John’s preaching attracted great crowds. When Christ came for baptism, John recognized Him as the Messiah and said, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?”
Later, John publicly denounced Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Perea and Galilee, for Herod’s adulterous and incestuous marriage with Herodias. Fearful of John’s moral authority with the crowds, Herod imprisoned John. Eventually, Salome, daughter of Herodias, asked Herod for John’s head on a platter at the prompting of her mother. Reluctantly, Herod agreed.
Through his ministry, John inspired many of his own followers, among them Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, to become disciples of Christ. John is said to have declared, “Behold the Lamb of God,” as Christ stood in the distance.
The New Testament presents St. John the Baptizer as the last of the Old Testament prophets and the precursor of the Messiah.