Both Greatest and Least
Father, You are worthy of praise. Your generosity is lavish, Your love unconditional, and Your joy overflowing. I worship You.
Read Luke 7:18-35
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Try to imagine what it must have been like to be the “voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord'” (Luke 3:4). It must have been tough!
Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, had a single-minded ministry. From the time that John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb in the presence of the unborn Jesus (1:41) to his death as a martyr, the direction of his life was clear. He was to be the herald and messenger of God’s Anointed One. So we can understand why he sent his disciples to check that Jesus was, indeed, this one. Yet, was this question necessary? John had been there at Jesus’ baptism. He had seen the Holy Spirit descend on him, heard the voice of the Father and knew about the miracles. Perhaps even John was expecting something else? Hadn’t he prophesied judgment in connection with Christ’s coming—that he would “burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”? Jesus’ answer was simply to point to the signs and wonders, and leave John to work it out for himself.
The same responsibility rests with each of us. Jesus leaves us with the witness of his teaching, life and death—and with the Holy Spirit. We have to weigh this against everything we know, not just against Old Testament prophecies but against all the contesting faiths and unbelief of our day. Christians believe the evidence that Jesus is indeed sent from God, and we need look for no other.
In pointing to John’s importance as a prophet, Jesus also leaves us with the paradox of v. 28. How can John be both the greatest born of woman and the least in the kingdom of God? It seems to point to the watershed between old and new covenants. As herald and messenger of the coming King, John was on the threshold of the kingdom. Christ brings in the kingdom itself, and we are the ones accorded the privilege of full citizenship.
In v. 35 (TLB), Jesus, responding to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, said, “But I am sure you can always justify your inconsistencies.” Think of this penetrating word as spoken to you. What would be your response?
Lord, I thank You for the faithful witness of those who have gone before me. Help me to point the way to others.
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