John the Baptist and the Least in the Kingdom

I find the words which Jesus spoke about John the Baptist to be some of the most amazing words in Scripture.

Here’s what Jesus said about the greatness of John the Baptist. “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11a).

Think of what this means. The Old Testament is filled with great people. They met God, preached His word, stood in the face of great adversity, and lived faithful lives.

John was indeed a great man.

At that point Jesus continued the thought, “Yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11b).

What does this mean? I see four answers to this difficult question.

First, this statement of Jesus shows us the magnificence of the new birth. To come into the kingdom of God a person must be born again (John 3:3). To be born again puts us in a different place with God. Those least in the kingdom of God (who have been born again) are greater than John the Baptist. What an amazing blessing to receive God into our lives and to be changed forever!

Second, the least person in the kingdom of God has participated in the once for all forgiveness of sin that comes through faith in Christ. The writer of Hebrews noted the ineffectiveness of the Old Testament sacrificial system (Hebrews 10). It had to be repeated again and again, but the work of Christ is once for all.

Third, the new believer in Christ has immediate access to the very throne of God. There are no barriers and no physical requirements. God invites us to boldly approach Him and His throne.

Finally, the person who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John because of the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ within him.

Jesus, in His incarnation, had voluntarily limited Himself. He could not be in two places at once, but His Spirit is with all believers. Sometimes we forget the amazing significance of the coming of Christ into the world. The statement of Jesus about John the Baptist reminds us of the magnificent blessings we have in Christ Jesus the Lord.

Would like to read more about Matthew 11 and John the Baptist? Click here and here to do so.

Thank you for reading. May God bless you.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Verse of the Day

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. — Colossians 3:15 (NIV)