The Holy Land is not a big place. Israel is about the same size as the state of New Jersey in the U.S.
The Holy Land is not a big place. Israel is about the same size as the state of New Jersey in the U.S. But when you are walking or riding a camel or a mule, travel can be grueling. John taught and baptized east of Jericho at the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea.
It was a long, dry walk from Jerusalem, over the mountains and then descending a long way. Jerusalem is about 2,500 feet in elevation, but the Dead Sea is minus 1,300 feet (so below sea level).
Still, curious people and even Jewish leaders flocked to hear John teach from as far away as Galilee in the north and from Jerusalem, about 25 miles away. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho looks like this:
So why were so many people attracted to John that they would make this kind of journey to hear him?
Some had received spiritual promptings when they heard about John
John was a Levite, but he had nothing to do with the rituals in the temple
He performed a strange kind of baptism (See Did the Jews Baptize?)
He taught that the Messiah had already come and that he was preparing the way
He sought to “overthrow” the learning of the Jews
He had rejected all the luxuries of city life to teach in the wilderness
He insulted the lifestyle of the Romans
He was fearless; neither the Jewish leaders nor the Romans intimidated him