How did he get away with it?
First, he wasn't a very promising at selling himself. He went places with very few people, dressed inappropriately, and his eating habits would make most people sick. Furthermore, when he got around the people with clout, he spoke to them in an almost-rude way.
He was the antithesis of political correctness.
And with all this, people flocked TO him. He didn't plead with them. He didn't chase them down. He didn't have any telemarketers. He didn't need any of it. He actually had people tracking him down just to listen to what he had to say. How did he do it?
There have been times when I have expressed my opinions. But unlike this man, sometimes they are looked at with disdain. I plead with people to see my point. I try to do the same things he did, in similar ways, and it is not respected, much less heeded.
So what is makes the difference?
Could it be that his message was one of being different? Instead of hanging on to what they had, he told them to share it. Instead of taking advantage of people in a business situation, he told them to act justly. He even told members of the law enforcement community to 1) don't intimidate, 2) don't accuse anyone falsely, and 3) be content with your pay. He spoke about a political leader's sinful marriage.
Was his message of being different the same as what people saw in him, someone who was different? Could that be what makes the difference?
Maybe I (we) need to look, act and be different so that our message will be heard. But not difference just for the sake of being different. Different in the areas that are truly important.
Oh yes, before I forget, John the Baptizer was not the 'great one' who was truly different. The Man who followed him was more deliberately different.