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The least in the Kingdom

Matthew 11:2-11 – The least in the Kingdom


John Baptist 05 smUpon hearing about the nature of Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist, locked up in prison, wonders if Jesus really is the Messiah whom John had proclaimed would come. Jesus’ response points to all he has done: the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor. That which had been foretold of the Messiah by the prophet Isaiah had been fulfilled superabundantly. There can be no doubt: Jesus is the ‘one who is to come.’

As John’s messengers depart, Jesus turns his attention towards the virtue and courage of his forerunner, John, and then, in contrast with John, speaks of the dignity and grandeur of all those who are privileged to share in the riches of God’s Kingdom.

 Until the coming of Jesus, John was the greatest of all human beings. This is high praise indeed. As we look back over the great heroes of the faith who lived during the Old Testament period, we are told that they pale into insignificance before the figure of John the Baptist.

 Yet, astonishingly, as great as John was, he does not even compare with the humblest member in the Kingdom of heaven. This is because John, in his capacity as the forerunner, was still a part of the old order, which was in the process of being superseded by the new. For in the coming of Jesus, the messianic age had dawned.

As we continue our journey through Advent to Christmas, may we live our lives in the light of God’s Kingdom which has burst into history. May we rejoice in the wonder of knowing and making known, Jesus, ‘the reason for the season.’    

Matthew 11:2-11

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Messengers from John the Baptist

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Jesus Praises John the Baptist

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then 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,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.