The Least and the Greatest
October 29, 2020
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).
There’s and old saying that goes, “The darkest day is lighter than the brightest night.” John the Baptizer was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets because his ministry was unlike the prophets who came before him. John MacArthur said, “He was the greatest human being who had lived until that time. From an earthly perspective, John’s character and calling made him the greatest man yet born besides Jesus Himself.”
The prophets before John directed the attention of the people to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was yet to come. John directed the attention of the people to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who had come. They could speak of Him, John could speak to Him.
As great a prophet that John was, he was inferior to the apostles that succeeded him. John got to speak to and baptize Jesus, the apostles got to know, be trained by, and commissioned to carry on the ministry of Jesus. “Those who are in the kingdom, who are brought nearer to God and have clearer spiritual knowledge of God, have higher privileges than the greatest of those who lived before the time of Christ” (Arthur Carr).
While that may be true, the point Jesus was making is this, John is greater than all others in character, but the least in the kingdom of heaven surpasses him in privilege. John the Baptizer marked the end of an age - the age of Mosaic Law. He also marked the beginning of a new age - the age of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. That age continues on today and will continue until Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom on earth. “John is the mountain peak between the old and the new” (A.T. Robertson). “The least in the Gospel stands on higher ground than the greatest under the law” (Charles Spurgeon).
Although the days we are living in are troublesome, Christians can and should rise up to greatness in the Kingdom of God, not for our sake, or for greatness sake, but for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of His Kingdom. We have the greatest news to share. We have the greatest future to experience. We have the greatest Lord and Savior of all. We should be like John and fearlessly declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone we come in contact with.
“Lord Jesus, help us to set aside our fears and frustrations and be bold in sharing Your Gospel with others, especially as we are on the eve of the holiday season. May we not only enjoy the fellowship of one another as we celebrate the season, may we also enjoy the company of new believers as we tell them the reason for this season. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”