“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matthew 11:11
Kind of an incredible sentence from Jesus here. No one born of women is greater than John, yet….the one who is the least in Heaven is greater still….
Humility…pass it on.
“A prophet…and more than a prophet” is how Jesus has just described John the Baptist (Matthew 11:9). He has referred to Malachi’s prophecy as a way of affirming John’s status (Matthew 11:10). That comment also serves as Jesus’ claim to being the “one who is to come” (Matthew 11:3).
Christ now adds that not only is John the greatest of the prophets, he is the greatest of every person ever born on earth. This statement, as with all Scripture, should be considered carefully in context. John served as the one man chosen by God to prepare the way for the Messiah. There is no more privileged position on earth than to point others to Jesus as the Messiah, and God gave John that mission first and above all. Also, John had a better understanding of who Messiah was than any of the prophets who came before.
Jesus is quick to add, however, that even the least person in the kingdom of heaven is “greater” than John the Baptist. Heaven’s kingdom will be filled with those declared righteous before God by His grace and because of their faith in Jesus. In Christ, their sins will be forgiven and God will give them credit for the righteous life that Jesus lived. Anyone forgiven for all sin and is declared righteous before God through faith in Christ will be better—”greater”—than John the Baptist standing only in his own righteousness.
John was the last of the prophets to point forward to the kingdom of heaven. This gave him greater status and knowledge than any who came before. Yet he is not greater in either status or knowledge, than those who will stand in the kingdom itself.
How are you practicing humility today?