Few episodes in the early career of Christ Jesus are related by all four Gospel writers, and fewer still are treated in as much detail as is his contact with John the Baptist. John's work is fully described and attention is focused upon it by the arrival of Jesus at the Jordan River.
Jesus was about thirty years old, most scholars agree, when he came to John for baptism. Speculations about the period before this—just where the Nazarene had been since his attendance at the Passover in Jerusalem at the age of twelve—have never been supported by authoritative evidence. Many legends have arisen. Jesus is said to have traveled to various parts of the world and studied with religious teachers of various backgrounds and traditions. However, all we know from the Biblical record confirms the natural assumption that these so-called "silent years" were spent in Nazareth in Galilee. It seems clear that the deep spirituality so characteristic of him derived directly from constant and very close communion with his heavenly Father, and that the religious background on which he drew was that of the Hebrew people.
When Jesus came to John for baptism, he came to one who was a prophet in a new tradition. The Old Testament prophets had cried out for religious and social reform by the nation, but John's wide appeal to the individual for regeneration, with a symbolic ritual to be performed as outward evidence of putting on a new mind, was unique. Nor was there record of crowds coming to the Old Testament prophets for advice, as "the people," the publicans, and the soldiers came to John (see Luke 3:10-14). Yet here was one who spoke with all the authority of a prophet, whose very clothing was reminiscent of what people recalled about Israel's great prophet Elijah (compare Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6; II Kings 1:8).