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Several years ago, the Lord began to develop the thought in my heart and mind that Jesus is not only the greatest in the kingdom of God but also the least. As with many of God’s truths, this seems self-contradictory. I can understand the resistance I have encountered about that truth. I wouldn’t have been able to accept it myself a few years back. Who wants to think of their Savior as the least? He can’t be. He’s the King. He’s the Master. He’s the Lord.

Yes, He is all those things, including the least, all wrapped up in who He is. To know Him fully, we must think about God the way He thinks about Himself, not the way we think about Him. Why? Because our human brains limit our understanding. God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).1 This seems like a rather great distance. So, to make this seemingly self-contradictory “He is the least” truth clearer, let’s look at Matthew 11. I don’t see any way we can escape the logic of Jesus’ thinking here.

“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).

When Jesus said that no one else born of women is greater than John, that includes everybody, including Himself. But there must be more to understand here. Am I to think that Jesus isn’t greater than John the Baptist? This can’t be. Jesus is the Lord God Almighty in human flesh. It is not possible that John the Baptist is greater than He. Thus, Jesus’ next statement leaves us with only one option and thus gives us the answer. He must have been talking about Himself when He said that “the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater” than John. “The one” must be Him.

I was pondering over this truth lately, and one morning this passage from the Book of Revelation popped into my head, although it was vague. It had to do with a slain lamb “in the midst” of throne of God. I looked it up. Here it is:

“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6).

Putting aside the strange image of Jesus as a slain lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, it seems apparent that this lamb occupies a place of authority. Reading on in Revelation 5, we see He is the only one worthy enough in all of heaven to take the scroll from the one seated on the throne, who must be God the Father.

A lamb, standing, who had been killed. I don’t claim to have understanding of all this, but it reinforces the truth that Jesus, first of all, is a vulnerable lamb that had been killed. However, we must keep in mind that Jesus made Himself vulnerable. Our King, Master, and Lord did this on purpose. No one took His life. He gave it.

So, it shouldn’t surprise us that we have difficulty wrapping our heads around the Creator of all things being the least as well as a lamb, one of the more vulnerable creatures on the planet.

This another of God’s upside-down truths, like the one about the rich being poor, and the one who is poor, rich. The one who humbles himself will be exalted. The one who exalts himself will be brought down. The strong are weak, and the weak are strong. This is how God does things. So, we must deal with the biblical reality that the one who spoke the universe into existence is a “I choose to be least” servant. And whom does He serve?


Well, hey, then, Jim, are you saying we can order Jesus around like a household servant?

Give that one a try. Of course not. Jesus is the Almighty God as well as the “least in the kingdom” sacrificial servant. This is His character, not just a position He took upon Himself more than two thousand years ago. He has been a servant forever, since before the foundation of the world.

“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:20–21).

What a glorious, mind-blowing, incomprehensible, loving God. What a blessing, honor, and privilege to know Him and be known by Him.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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