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In the eleventh chapter of Matthew, John the Baptist’s followers come to Jesus with a question: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3).1 Jesus responds in the affirmative, but I want us to look at the last few sentences of His response. After giving John high praise, He ends by saying these two challenging sentences:

“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).

The first sentence is quite a statement. I’ll let those who want to sift through, off in a corner somewhere, the possibility that John was greater than Abraham, Moses, David, or any of the prophets. My initial take on it is that God does not rank people in the way we do. God chooses insignificant people. Try ranking that.

However, another question looms large here. Jesus’ proclamation that no one born of woman—everybody, in other words—is greater than John, would include Jesus Himself.  We know this cannot be true. Jesus was and is God Almighty incarnate. That is the summit of greatness. There is none higher.

So, how do we solve this issue?

Jesus disentangles it for us with His last statement: “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom is greater than he.”

Ah. So, that’s who Jesus is. The least in the kingdom.

I know. This presents a problem. Jesus isn’t the least, He is the greatest.

Yes. And that’s precisely what He said. The one who is least in the kingdom is greater than John, and John is greater than anyone born of women.

So, how do we reckon that Jesus is least?

I hope that what I am to write next will be a source of wonderment for you, good Christian brothers and sisters. Here is the simple logic of it:

No being exists that is greater than the Lord God Almighty. He is perfect in power. No power exists that is more powerful. Nothing at all is impossible for Him. He is perfect in knowledge. He knows everything that is possible to know; after all, He created it. He is perfect in sovereignty. Nothing happens in the universe or on the earth that He does not cause or allow. He is the Creator of all that exists. Sustainer and Upholder of all that exists. There were no gods before Him. None beside Him. There will be none in the future.

Need I go on?

Therefore, when the most powerful Being imaginable takes on flesh, coming to this dark planet as a helpless infant, emptying Himself and not trying grasp at sovereign-over-all power, lowering Himself to the position of slave, even dying (Philippians 2:5-8), He has reached the pinnacle (or nadir, if you prefer) of “least-ness.” You, my Christian friend, cannot be “least-er” than He.

Therefore, the One who became least has been exalted:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).

So, when you lift up your voice to praise Jesus, include in your worship the acknowledgement that Immanuel, Almighty God incarnate, lowered and emptied Himself like a slave so that He could bring you eternal life through His sacrifice.

If that doesn’t inspire wonderment, then I’m not sure what will.

 

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

Gif courtesy giphy.com

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