Please click here to read today’s passage through BibleGateway. The notes this week have been prepared by Bill.
Jesus is careful to tell the crowds what a great man John the Baptist was. He was not a yes-man, leaning with the wind, nor was he a posh man, living in a palace. He was a fearless prophet. More than that, the Old Testament spoke about him (Malachi 3.1), saying that one day God would send his messenger who would prepare the way (for the coming Lord). John had been a popular preacher in the desert, now he was in prison and was soon to be executed. Jesus calls him a very great man indeed.
What a privilege we have, then, to belong to the kingdom of God. The least one in the kingdom has greater knowledge and privileges even than John the Baptist. Our familiarity with the gospel blinds us to our privileges. John saw Jesus as the Lamb of God from his perspective before the cross. A child can appreciate what Jesus did for us on the cross in a way that John and the Old Testament prophets could only long to see (1 Peter 1.10-11).
What a great job John had done v29, preparing all the people’s hearts to incline towards God’s way, and acknowledge that it was right. The culture around has a great bearing on how receptive people are to the gospel. Jesus said we can influence the way people think. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5.16
What a good thing it was that Jesus spoke in praise of John. The fact that he was in prison did not lessen John’s greatness. Jesus was deliberately speaking just to the crowd, not to John’s followers. Speaking positively about other people is helpful.
Let’s live in a way that is counter-culture, loving one another and eager to do good. Let’s pray that many more people will praise our heavenly Father.