As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
When we think of great prophets, we probably think of people like Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah. They are without a doubt a handful of the most famous prophets in the Bible. And yet here Jesus tells us they weren't as great as John the Baptist.
And at that time, John was not only greater—he was the greatest—not only of the prophets but of anyone born of a woman! Why? Well, for starters, another prophet named Malachi prophesied about John! On top of that, John was the only prophet to, not only prepare people for the Messiah’s appearing, but to also call him a peer. Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah all pointed God’s people to the Savior God promised to send. But they only pointed to a promise. John was the only prophet who actually got to see God’s promise in the flesh!
And yet, as great as John was, he had one thing in common with Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah. Although he had the privilege of living while Jesus walked this earth, he died before Jesus carried out his saving work. So, just like Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, John died with only the promise of the full and free forgiveness that Jesus would win for all people. John never got to see how that forgiveness would be won. John didn't get to see Jesus suffer and die. John didn't get to see Jesus defeat death when he came out of the grave that first Easter Sunday morning. Like Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, John didn't know the WHOLE story.
But you do! You know the WHOLE story. All Christians do! You know what Moses knew and what Elijah knew. You know what Isaiah, Jeremiah and John the Baptist knew. You know that we’re all imperfect people who simply cannot please our perfect God. And you know our God promised to rescue us from our imperfect state.
But you know more! In simply knowing who Jesus is and what he has done, you know more about God’s plan to save all people from their sins than all of God’s prophets combined! You may not think of yourself as one of God’s prophets. But armed with the simple knowledge of the full and free forgiveness that Jesus has won for all people, you really are greater than the greatest of prophets! Not because you’re a better person, but because you know the WHOLE story!
Blessings on the rest of your week!