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Courage and Obedience: Women of the Old Testament, Part Two - A gray stone wall, arched window, red drape. Courage and Obedience: Women of the Old Testament, Part Two - A gray stone wall, arched window, red drape.

Questions and Answers | Greater than John

Why did Jesus say John was great but the least of men would be greater than John? Since John was martyred, wouldn't he get special approval?

When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:3). After giving evidence for His being the Messiah (vv. 4–6), the Lord Jesus affirmed John’s greatness (vv. 7–11). Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (v. 11).

The issue of John’s martyrdom is unrelated. Jesus was identifying John as the greatest prophet, not the greatest man. John fulfilled Malachi’s prediction of the one who would announce the Messiah (Mal. 3:1). As a rule, the greater the revelation, the greater the prophet.

But why would the least in the kingdom be greater than John? We who have come to know the Messiah Jesus have been given much more revelation than John, including the whole New Testament. This greater revelation makes even the least of us greater than John. It’s like this: Eddie Rickenbacker was the ace of all U.S. World War I pilots. Yet, today, the lowliest pilot of an F18 Hornet would be greater than Rickenbacker.

We can take heart that even when we experience doubt and discouragement, the Lord Jesus has affirmed us because of the far greater revelation we proclaim today. The revelation we have been given through Scripture is even greater than what the greatest prophet was given.

BY Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Dr. Michael Rydelnik is a professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the host of Moody Radio’s Open Line with Michael Rydelnik. He is the author of 50 Most Important Bible Questions inspired by both his radio show and his columns for Today in the Word. Michael served on the translation team of the Holman CSB Bible and contributed to several other books and study Bibles. Michael also appeared in the Lee Stroebel video The Case for Christ. Michael and his wife, Eva, have two adult sons. The Rydelniks live in Chicago, Ill.

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