The Scriptorium

None Greater

None greater than John. Except perhaps you. Matthew 11.7-11

Matthew 11: Taking the Kingdom by Force (2)

Pray Psalm 126.4, 5.
Bring back our captivity, O Lord,
as the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap in joy.

Sing Psalm 126.4, 5.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
Restore our fortunes, Lord our King!
Let grace like flowing streams prevail.
All they with tears of joy shall sing
who sow while yet they weep and wail.

Read Matthew 11.1-12; meditate on verses 7-11.

1. What did Jesus say about John the Baptist?

2. Who is greater than John?

Jesus certainly did not think that John’s faith had faltered by sending his two disciples to ask Jesus whether He was the Coming One. Jesus knew the greatness of John the Baptist. But he was great in the eyes of God and Christ, not in the eyes of men. He didn’t wear the finest clothes. He did not alter his views or message to suit the shifting winds of morality. And he didn’t break under the pressure of being challenged by those who would ultimately murder his Lord.

Jesus said John was a prophet. Well, that’s some pretty good company: Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the rest. But Jesus said John was even more than a prophet. Not only did he proclaim the Word of God faithfully, but he was the appointed forerunner of the Messiah, the one concerning whom Malachi had written, the last of God’s Old Testament prophets (Mal. 3.1). He was more than a prophet because he, more than any prophets before him, prepared the world for Christ. He was more than a prophet because he saw Jesus, baptized Jesus, pointed the world to Jesus, and shifted the focus of those who followed him to following Jesus, Whom John had come to proclaim.

No wonder Jesus said that John is the greatest person to be born prior to the coming of the Kingdom. That, by the way, would include Abraham, Moses, David, all the prophets, and even Jesus’ own mother. Yet the coming of the Kingdom is an event of such qualitative distinction, that even the person who is least in the Kingdom is greater than John – and, by implication, greater than all those others, too.

How can that be? Because neither John nor any of the others who preceded him had the benefit of Christ living in them by the power of the Holy Spirit. We who know Jesus, who have entered His Kingdom and are in pursuit of His righteousness – we have the Spirit of Christ, Who is at work within us to will and do of God’s good pleasure in transforming us increasingly into the likeness of Jesus (Phil. 2.13; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).

When you think of John the Baptist, think greatness. Then thank our Lord and praise Him that your potential for Kingdom greatness exceeds even that of John.

1. Why was John so great? What can we learn from John about our own mission in the world?

2. What’s the difference between least in the Kingdom and great in the Kingdom (cf. Matt. 5.17-19)?

3. Should you care about whether you are least or great in the Kingdom? Explain.

But was it also the task of a prophet to recognize God while he was still implanted in the womb? It is the task of a prophet to receive prophecy in exchange for a worthy way of life and faith. But was it the task of a prophet to be made a prophet before being made a man and before receiving any reward? It is the task of a prophet to receive blessing from God. But is it the task of a prophet to confer the blessing of baptism on God? It is the task of a prophet to speak of Christ before his time. But is it the task of a prophet to stand face to face with Christ and point him out with his finger? It is the task of a prophet to give prophecies about God. But is it the task of a prophet that God should make prophecies about the prophet himself, as when he says, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face?”
Anonymous (no date), Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 27

Lord, You have saved me for greatness, greater than the greatness of John. Help me today to…

Pray Psalm 126.1-6.
How will you sow for the Lord and His Kingdom today? Commit your day to the Lord, to let your Kingdom greatness shine to the world.

Sing Psalm 126.1-6.
Psalm 126.1-6 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
When God restored our fortunes all,
we were like those who sweetly dream.
Our mouths with joy and laughter filled,
made Him our constant song and theme.

Then the astonished nations said,
“The Lord has done great things for them!”
Indeed, great things our God has done,
Whose Name we praise, Amen, Amen!

Restore our fortunes, Lord our King!
Let grace like flowing streams prevail.
All they with tears of joy shall sing
who sow while yet they weep and wail.

They who in tears of sorrow sow
and cast their seed on every hand,
with joy shall reach their heav’nly home,
and bring the harvest of their land.

T. M. Moore

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore