In Matthew 11:11 Jesus portrayed the wonderful blessings of the kingdom, declaring, “Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” To be in the kingdom is a great thing. Of all the great personages throughout the Bible such as Abraham, Moses, etc., at that time none had arisen greater than John the Baptist. In fact, Jesus remarked that there had not been a man born of woman (by normal birth – not like the miraculous conception of Jesus) who was greater than John. Yet, the blessings available to Christians today (who are in the kingdom) make the least in the kingdom of heaven greater than John.
Instead of appreciating this truth, the disciples of Jesus were often involved in disputes regarding who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Mark 9:33-35). On one occasion they asked Jesus, “who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). Our Lord called a little child and set him in the midst of the disciples to teach them that they must be converted and become as little children; the one who humbles himself as a little child is greatest in the kingdom (Matthew 18:2-4). The disciples had not learned the attitude of humility they were to have. Their inclination to pursue the course of pride would creep up again. In the shadow of the cross, when Jesus ate His final Passover supper with the disciples, He revealed to them how one of them would betray Him (Luke 22:21). Their inquiry regarding the identity of the betrayer led to strife among them concerning who should be regarded as the greatest (Luke 22:23-24). Jesus reiterates His teaching about the greatest being servant of all (Luke 22:26-27). He even took this occasion to wash His disciples feet, even the feet of Judas who would soon betray Him (John 13:4-5). Jesus was truly great because He was consumed with serving others. He not only washed the feet of His disciples, but in a few short hours He would give His life for all mankind. Jesus did not live His life here on earth to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for others (Mark 10:45).
As Christians, do we follow our Lord’s example? Jesus showed the way to be the greatest in the kingdom is to be the greatest servant in the kingdom. Colossians 3:12 exhorts, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.” Regrettably, members of the church often become discouraged if others do not praise them for being great. Many are busy “tooting” their own horns. But the greatest servant is so busy serving that he does not think or care about being regarded as great in the eyes of men.
John pointed men to Christ instead of drawing men to himself (John 1:27; 3:26-29). His attitude regarding Christ was, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30). As members of the church, we are a part of God’s kingdom with blessings that make us greater than John the Baptist. Do we appreciate our blessings and live accordingly? Or are we like the disciples who, while the Lord is giving everything to them, can only think on how much better they are than everyone else?