I was confronted by a man who asked the question, “If Jesus was the greatest man to ever live, why did He say that John the Baptist was the greatest man ever born of woman?” (Matt 11:11). Jesus went on to say, “yet he who is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.” According to the man who asked me the question, this would mean that John is greater than Jesus and that both are less than those who belong to the kingdom of heaven – at which time he mentioned his faith and his prophet who he claimed to be better than both. He further tried to strengthen his case by reminding me that Jesus was baptized by John and not the other way around.
A major problem with his argument is that a single text is being made into a doctrine without considering the greater context and the bigger picture. John the Baptist himself referred to Jesus as being the “one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am unfit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” In fact, when Jesus came to be baptized by John, John said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by You, and you are coming to me?” (Matt 3:15). It seems that John understood who was greater.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry He taught parables concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. In those parables, He was pictured as the ruler or king of that kingdom. So Jesus does not include Himself in the comparison when He declares John the greatest man born of woman because Jesus is establishing the kingdom of heaven thus He is already considered part of the kingdom of heaven, making Him greater than John. In fact, He is not just among the least in the kingdom of heaven, but is actually the greatest. He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords to whom every knee will bow and tongue confess that “Jesus is Lord.”
Any belief system or prophet that would reduce the role of Jesus to being just a mere man or a good prophet, is in error and cannot save anyone. Jesus died to pay the price for our sin, but He didn’t stay dead. He is risen, He is returning, and He’s reaching out to any who will put their faith in Him and receive His gift of salvation. “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Here’s the point to all this… Know your bible. The more you know your bible, the better you will know Jesus. And the more you know Jesus, the more you see (and experience) just how awesome He is – there is none greater. As disciples, our job is not to argue about His word, but to live it. You are the light of the world. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Know His word and let the heart of Christ govern your thoughts, your attitudes, and your decisions today.