A PRIVILEGE AND A CALL EVEN GREATER THAN JOHN’S [MATTHEW 11:11-15]
Jesus praised John the Baptist in extraordinary terms, declaring that no greater man or woman had ever appeared. John had an exceptional calling. He was commissioned to be the Messiah’s herald, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). But, even though John was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15), he was not born with a full-blown understanding of what his mission meant or exactly how he should carry it out.
John sought God in the silence of the desert, praying and allowing God’s word to take root in his heart. As he did so, his natural intellect became informed and guided by the Holy Spirit. Sensitive to the Holy Spirit, John was able to recognize the One whose way he had come to prepare (John 1:29-34). And yet, as great as Jesus said John was, surpassing all the Old Testament prophets before him, Jesus announced that the least in the Kingdom of Heaven was even greater still (Matthew 11:11). How are we to understand this inverted equation, this unexpected flip-flop of the criterion for greatness?
In the Kingdom that John heralded and that Jesus inaugurated. God’s gift of grace makes even the least of those who faithfully receive it greater than anyone under the old law. All who believe in Jesus and accept His redemption become sons and daughters of God, a privilege and a call even greater than John’s. Because we are His children, God offers us intimate and eternal union with Him.
John had notable natural abilities, but it was his submission to God’s call and to the transforming action of the Holy Spirit that testified to God’s power working in him. Likewise, as we shed our old nature through repentance and obedience to God, as we allow His Spirit to pour a new nature into us, we become empowered to live as God’s children. Let us thank God today that as “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17) we share in the greatness that even the least in the Kingdom of Heaven enjoys!
Jakarta, 12th of December 2013
A Christian Pilgrim