John the Baptist | Part 3: The Greatest Born to Woman
May 26, 2020
May 26, 2020
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)
These are two stunning statements! He is the greatest born of women AND lower than the least in the kingdom of heaven? What did Jesus mean by this? How can this be? I can give you many reasons why he would be referred to as the greatest born of women. But why would the least in the kingdom of heaven be greater than he? That is a difficult question.
My thoughts are this: at that point in time even the least in the kingdom of heaven understood what was going on and John the Baptist did not. He was a great man, the greatest born among women, but he really did not understand all that God was about to reveal. However, the least in the kingdom of heaven would understand it.
After this, Jesus and his disciples went to the Judean countryside, where he spent time with them and baptized. John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. People were coming and being baptized, since John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then a dispute arose between John’s disciples and a Jew about purification. So they came to John and told him, “Rabbi, the one you testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing—and everyone is going to him.” John responded, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of him.’ He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:22-30)
John the Baptist understood his place. He doesn’t have a tombstone, but if he did, his epitaph would be “He must increase, I must decrease.” He was the Groom’s friend. He was always pointing back to Jesus.
This is a severe test for John. His disciples are also being tested. They come to him and say, “Teacher, are you aware that your popularity is diminishing and the one you testified about it, His crowds are growing?” John passes this test. He points back to the one he was most happy to see and rejoice with: the Groom.
Jesus talked about John the Baptist more than anyone else. He understood his role in preparing the way of the kingdom. In John 5:35, Jesus says John the Baptist was a burning and shining lamp.
Church father Augustine wrote: “John does not enlighten every person; Christ does. And John recognized himself as a lamp, in order not to be blown out by the wind of pride. A lamp can both be lit and be put out. The word of God cannot be put out; a lamp always can.”
John the Baptist’s lamp was blown out. He was eventually beheaded by an evil king. But He was pointing to the light of the world that could never be blown out.
John the Baptist is always mentioned in connection to Jesus. Even before he was born, he leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary and Jesus were in close proximity. Every time you see John the Baptist in Scripture, he is connected with Jesus. Oh that the same were the case for us! It’s your relationship with Jesus that matters. Nothing else matters. John the Baptist was 100% connected with Jesus in everything he said and did. He was obedient until death.
Kevin is a Pastor at Blackman Baptist Church.