I’ve always been amazed at how quickly crowds surrounded John the Baptist and Jesus. Of course a lot of it most likely had to do with the fact that God was, at that very moment, acting in a great way. But there was something more.
The people were filled with expectation, and everyone wondered whether John might be the Christ. (Luke 3:15).
It really is no wonder the people were filled with expectation. Look at all that had gone on before this point.
1. Zechariah is rendered mute coming out of the Temple, and there was a crowd to see this fact.
2. When John is born and Zechariah can speak once again, a great crowd was around and heard the prophecy concerning John.
3. When Jesus was born, the shepherds were explicitly told the Christ had been born, and they told everyone around them what they saw in the fields.
4. When Jesus is taken to the Temple for the purification rites, Simeon and Anna both proclaim to all who would listen who the baby was and what God was going to do through him.
5. When Jesus was twelve he attracted a huge crowd in the Temple as he asked questions and answered other questions.
6. Not in Luke’s Gospel, but according to Matthew all Jerusalem was in an uproar when the magi arrived from the east and consulted with Herod about the King of the Jews being born.
Fast forward thirty years, and it really is no wonder people were full of expectation! Most of the people in the region would have either seen or at least heard of what had happened years earlier and expected God’s redemption to begin with power. The reality that God was about to act was palpable and everyone knew something great was about to happen. So it is no wonder when someone like John shows up hearkening back to Elijah, someone who was supposed to precede the coming of the Lord, that people would remember just thirty years ago and anticipate God’s action.