You don’t have to take my opinion on who is the greatest man ever born. Jesus told us that it was John the Baptist.
Jesus challenged the crowd to think about John the Baptist and asked them two questions that didn’t need answers.
“What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind?
“What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces” (Luke 7.24-25).
People didn’t travel miles into the desert to watch tall grass blowing in the wind. They certainly didn’t expect to see kings in royal robes in the wilderness.
Jesus acknowledged their belief in the nature of John’s work.
He said, “What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet” (Luke 7.26).
John was a prophet, but he exceeded the prophet’s role, because his ministry prepared people to accept Jesus.
Jesus quoted from Malachi 3 and Exodus 23 to describe the effect of John’s work.
“This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you'” (Luke 7.27).
John is Our Example
If we pause and reflect about John for a moment, we see that we all can play a role like that of John.
I was brought to tears last Sunday, when I surveyed various people in church. Big tough men, who in a dark alley would be very scary, had their hands lifted in gratitude and praise to the Savior.
If I were to “call roll” on these men, they would have been former addicts, homeless, criminals, and fighters.
Praise God, I can paraphrase the old hymn and apply it to them: “When the roll is called up yonder, they will be there.”
Each man had something in common. The same is true for the numerous women we were worshiping God with their whole hearts.
Someone prepared the way for them to meet Jesus. They were like John and got these people ready for an encounter with the Savior of the world.
The Greatest and the Least
Jesus told the crowd that John was the greatest man to ever live.
He said, “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7.28).
This statement has puzzled me for many years. How can John be the greatest, but the least in the kingdom be greater than he?
I must confess that my answer is an educated guess.
No doubt, John was the greatest. However, his questions (Luke 7.19-20) reflected that he was still tied to the old patterns and expectations concerning God’s purpose.
This evaluation has nothing to do with John’s role or his eternal salvation. He fulfilled his role and was given the highest approval a person can receive.
However, the tax collector following Jesus and the leper were willing to trust God’s agenda through Jesus without question.
Pride and Humility
I have battled pride my entire life. I received a good education and had many privileges that were not afforded others.
I am frequently humbled by people with simple faith, who startle me with deeds of kindness.
I see addicts go to great lengths to assist the still suffering addict. They travel distances to help someone go to treatment or make amends to a person they have injured.
As a minister, I get a certain amount of recognition. I suggest that these humble and faithful servants are the true heroes.
Luke’s Editorial Comments
Luke ended this section with insights he received from Jesus.
He wrote, “And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism.
“But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (Luke 7.29-20).
John’s invitation was to align life with God’s purposes and to serve his agenda. The refusal to be baptized revealed an unwillingness to repent.
People who have been humbled by life are often ready to accept God’s assistance. They come to God to find forgiveness and end up becoming God’s partners in his work.
Some of the people who have received the most advantages in life don’t sense a need for God. They end up missing the opportunity to partner with God.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage in a YouTube video today. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. You will be blessed by his insights. The video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.