Read January 28-February 3 lesson here.
Mark 1:6 “And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey.”
Locusts and grasshoppers were not a typical food during John’s time. Locusts and grasshoppers would have been consumed by the poorest classes of people. Preparation consisted of putting the live locust in boiling salt water or boiling butter. The wings, legs, head were then torn off, it was laid in the sun to dry, and then eaten. See Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage, Notes to Chapter 10, 136 here.
“On any given day, people may forget to pray or neglect to work or worship, but they seldom forget to eat. Since one purpose of the law of Moses was to provide continual daily reminders to the Israelites of their duty to God, the law included instructions concerning what the children of Israel could and could not eat. Leviticus 11 contains these instructions. The rules and instructions are commonly known as “kosher laws.” Kosher comes from a Hebrew word that means “religiously clean.” Like the Word of Wisdom revealed in our day, the kosher laws promoted good health, but their major purpose was to teach obedience. This law of health, like the Word of Wisdom today, helped set God’s people apart from the world in habits and practices, which was another purpose of the law of Moses, and helped them become clean and holy.” “Leviticus 11: A ‘Word of Wisdom’ for the Israelites,” Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide (2002), 58–59.
Leviticus 11: 21, 22 “Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.”
Side note: The only other place John the Baptist is mentioned outside of the scriptures is in The Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus. See Book XVIII, Chapter 5.
If you were describing someone, would you include a description of what they eat? Why do you think the authors of Matthew and Mark included the fact that John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey? What clues do the food give us about John’s life?
John the Baptist spent his time fully devoted to bearing witness and preparing the way of the Lord. This was a paramount objective for him. The locusts and wild honey mentioned in these scriptures further emphasize this extraordinary characteristic found in John the Baptist. The locusts and wild honey, found in the wilderness, demonstrate the time he spent tirelessly traveling to “Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan” to spread the word of Christ’s coming. The food also demonstrates John’s understanding and strict observance of the law of Moses, thus, his desire to follow God’s commandments. We can deduce all that (and more) about John the Baptist just from the mention of locusts and wild honey.
Consider who is preparing the way for the second coming of Jesus in our day. Are you listening?
I’m all about doing anything you can to bring the scriptures to life. Get your hands on some human grade edible grasshoppers (It’s a thing…you can order them online!) and natural honeycomb for your family or class members to eat.