Greater than John the Baptist
“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” NIV
John the Baptist. The one the prophets foretold would go ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for Him, the one separated from birth to do the work of the Lord, the new Elijah, the one who first declared to an astonished nation that the Kingdom of Heaven was near.
Jesus declared him to be the greatest man of God who had ever lived up to that time! Just think about it – Jesus was saying that John the Baptist was greater than Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon and all the other Old Testament prophets and leaders. That must have been a shocking revelation to the Jewish people because they held all these prophets in the highest esteem.
I confess I also find it hard to understand how John the Baptist could be considered greater than Abraham or Moses or David but such is the wisdom of God.
There is, however, another even more shocking revelation that Jesus mentioned. We don’t often hear much spoken about it. Perhaps it is as shocking to us as the revelation about John the Baptist was to the Jews of Jesus’ day. And that was Jesus’ statement that “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he [i.e. John the Baptist].”
Amazing! Incredible! Awesome! Mind-boggling! The least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John the Baptist, and by extension, Abraham and Moses and David! I confess again that my mind struggles to comprehend the awesomeness of that statement. Like the Psalmist, I can only exclaim: “What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).
What an amazing revelation – that in Christ, we are greater than all the Old Testament saints as great as they were! You see, John the Baptist was “born of women” whereas those in the Kingdom of Heaven are born of the Spirit through the work of Christ. We are not great because of anything we have done; we have been made great in the sight of God by the work that Christ has done in us. In Matthew 12:42, Jesus, referring to Himself, told the Pharisees that one greater than Solomon was in their presence. And that greater one now lives in us.
All this is not meant to puff us up (again, we are nothing in ourselves) but to remind us just how great the work of Christ in us truly is, what we have become to God because of Christ, how esteemed and honoured we are to God because of Christ in us.
People look at us and they don’t see anything special – at best we may be good people but certainly not anyone particularly special. Yet, to God, we are now greater than all the prophets of the Old Testament because Christ lives in us. We have found favour with God. We have become God’s treasure, the apple of His eye. Think of Abraham and Moses and David and all the other great prophets that you have read about, and then remember, that in Christ you have found even greater favour with God than them!
That is how God sees those who are in Christ. Let the Holy Spirit affirm this in you and let this revelation lift you up and be your defense against the lies and deception of the enemy that seeks to bring you down, make you feel unloved and unworthy. In Christ, you are seated in high places; you are loved, affirmed and esteemed by God! Hold your head up high, be bold, be strong; have faith in the work of Christ in you and the power and authority you have been given to do the work that God has called you to do.