John was the son of the priest Zacharias and of Elizabeth. Until its 30th year, he lived an ascetic life in the desert of Judaea completely devoted to prayer, contemplation and spiritual and moral perfection.
His clothing was of camel hair and he wore a leather belt and his food was locusts and honey.
With a figure that was tanned, serious, dignified and dynamic, John was immediately seen as a person who was extraordinary and spectacular. He had all the qualities of a great and imposing preacher of God’s word. So it is with great grace he preached to the multitudes.
Rained thunderbolts and hit hard down upon the arrogance of of the Pharisees, who underneath their external dress of false holiness hid the most disgusting wounds of hardness of the soul and filthiness. In general, his teaching can be summarised in his short phrase “repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand” thus preparing the way or our Lord Jesus Christ and his work of salvation. When Christ started his public ministry, the people gradually left John and started to follow Christ. This turn offence in a teacher or philosopher who was not of a Christian spirit. May well have caused great bitterness and brought forth thorns of jealousy and envy, however, for John this court was a source of great joy and delight. The Lord said that no man stand taller than John the Baptist. This feast was established in the fifth century.
From the Orthodox Synaxarion