After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’[b] Mal 3.1
28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7.24-28
I always thought of John as just a prophet. ”Just a prophet“ would indicate he brought a word from God. But John was “more than a prophet”, according to Jesus. Perhaps because he “brought” God.
You know what I mean, he didn’t invent the Lord’s coming but he certainly had the privilege of setting the stage for the arrival of the Christ. John, a cousin to Jesus, might have grown up together. We have evidence in the Gospels of cousins Mary and Elizabeth meeting together when Elizabeth was pregnant.
John prepared the way of the Lord. Many went out to him, to the wilderness and were baptized by him. He called out to all to “repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” And no sooner had he said this then Jesus, God in the flesh, shows up. Begins his public ministry by doing such fantastic miracles that people could not keep away.
So Jesus affirms John’s role and the Scripture in Malachi 3.1 supports it saying— “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” John certainly did that for Jesus. But Jesus said, “There is no on greater than John….” to which all the people agreed, v.29, but then he said, “yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he“ (John).
So John had an astonishing task in preaching repentance, holiness and “getting right with God” before Jesus came. But the least in the Kingdom is greater than John?
Jesus often says things that make no sense to our way of thinking. God’s hierarchy is upside down. Philippians 2 supports how Jesus came not to serve but to be served, and to become the servant of all. So I think in God’s kingdom, the greatest are the servants, those who sacrifice their lives for others and who deny themselves for the sake of Christ.
We live in a world ruled by the “prince of the air.” The devil has been given authority over this earth and dominion in every corner. So we can expect this world to be different than God’s Kingdom. But is should encourage us to be more like John, preparing the way, and more like Jesus, serving and suffering for the sake of others. As James 4.10 reminds us, “Humble yourself before the Lord and he will lift you up.”
Today practice serving others. Consider yourself not greater than anyone else, but the servant of all. Then you will know the heart of Christ and his Spirit will rest upon you.
“O Lord God, I am a vessel of flesh with a spirit of eternity. I am not destined for this earth. My spirit-person is at times ready to fly to heaven with you, to sit at your feet, to know the essence of your nature and the power of your love. Thank you Lord, for giving me the ability to walk with you. Even though I stumble, even though I slip, you are good and you are God. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen