“Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (v. 11)
It is doubtful whether these words of Jesus are true when compared to the lifestyle of the Baptist. I am not worthy to take off his sandals (Matthew 3:11), he must be baptized by Jesus (Matthew 3: 13-14), and he must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). this was the attitude of John. Then why does Jesus portray the Baptist as great?
John’s greatness refers to his great place in the history of salvation, not personal abilities, merit or holiness. The greatest sign of His glory is the fact that God chose John the Baptist to be the prophet who announced the coming of the Messiah. He was the Prophet who came into the world only to call out to the world that someone greater was coming after him. His mission was to prepare the world for the coming of the Saviour. The prophets Isaiah (40: 3) and Malachi (3: 1) foretell the ministry of the Baptist. John also presents the Saviour to the world as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1: 35-36).
That is why Jesus testifies in the Gospel today that John is Elijah who was to come. Like Elijah, John had to call people to repentance, raise his voice against the king’s wickedness, and he was persecuted as a result. John breaks the 430-year silence of divine revelation that ceased after the prophet Malachi. Only John was fortunate enough to see in person the Savior whom many prophets from Moses had been waiting for. That is why he is lucky.
Yet the words confuse us that the smallest in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. John could not experience the fruit of the Savior’s work on this earth. His eyes did not see the salvation made possible through the crucifixion of Jesus. He could not experience the glory of the resurrection of Jesus. We, his followers, were able to take part in all this. It shows us the blessed position of Christians. This time of advent is a time when we, who have been elevated to the status of children of God through baptism, must count the great value of our lives. Our glory is in the fact that God chose us. Let us pray today for the blessing of living according to this great grace.