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Verse 5

Matthew 3:5. Then went out to him Jerusalem That is, the citizens of it, famed as they were for wisdom and virtue: and all Judea, &c. The preacher being described, the evangelist proceeds to tell us what auditors he had. All sorts and ranks of persons, and the generality of the people there, flocked to hear him. The uncommon circumstances of John’s public appearance could scarcely fail to awaken the attention of the people to his person and ministry, which would be yet more excited by the time of it: for the Roman yoke began to bear hard upon them, and their uneasiness under it raised in their minds the most impatient desire of the Messiah’s arrival, by whom they expected not only deliverance, but universal monarchy. No wonder, therefore, that they flocked to the Baptist from all parts, and listened attentively while he proclaimed this long-expected Messiah’s approach, and denounced the divine vengeance upon such as rejected him. Add to this, the novelty of a prophet’s appearance in Israel, (for it seems they had had none among them since Malachi’s time;) the family of John, the circumstances of his birth, and the extraordinary character he had no doubt maintained for strict and undissembled piety; the new doctrine he taught, and his fervent manner of urging it, together with the new rite of baptism which he brought in; all concurred, with the cause mentioned above, to draw such vast multitudes after him. And, it appears, great numbers of them were brought under very serious impressions by his faithful remonstrances, expostulations, and warnings. Here we observe a remarkable difference between John and Jesus. That the people might hear John they were under the necessity of going out of the city, and travelling to him into the desert: but Jesus, of his own accord, went to his hearers.

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