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(Part 29)


December 14, 2017

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 41:13-20
Psalm 145:1,9-13
Matthew 11:11-15

There have been many great personages made known to us in the Bible, and one of them is John the Baptist. In fact, Jesus says of him, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist” (Mt 11:11a). Then Jesus follows that up with an astonishing statement: “yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Mt 11:11b). That is us!

Why was John the Baptist great? Why was he the greatest of all? John’s greatness lay in his being sent as God’s messenger to prepare the way for the coming of His Son Jesus. He was the forerunner of the Messiah. John also preached in the spirit and power of the great prophet Elijah. Like Elijah, he called a nation to repentance, rebuked a king, and endured persecution.

Further, John as prophet broke the 430 years of silence since the prophet Malachi. He was the bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets but did his ministry in the New Testament dispensation. He was the last in a long line of prophets that predicted Christ, but was the only one who actually saw Christ, whom he even had the privilege to baptize.

So John the Baptist was the greatest. But no. Jesus says the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Those who are least in the Kingdom are we. How are we greater than the great John?

It is about who we have become. John was privileged to prepare the way for Jesus and to actually know Jesus. But he was no longer there to witness the saving act of Jesus on the cross. He had great honor in being the herald of the coming of the Savior, but that is not as significant as the honor we are given as disciples of Jesus and co-inheritors with him in his Kingdom. John announced the coming of the Kingdom, but we are in the Kingdom.

It is also about what we are called to do. John prepared the way for the coming of Jesus; we prepare the way for his second coming. John baptized with water, proclaiming a baptism of repentance; we are used as God’s instruments to baptize with the Holy Spirit. John preached in the whole region of the Jordan; we are sent to the ends of the earth.

Thus we are sent. We must be among the faithful who “speak of the glory of your reign and tell of your mighty works, making known to the sons of men your mighty acts, the majestic glory of your rule.” (Ps 145:11-12). We do this by proclaiming Christ, as we do the work of evangelization and mission.

How can we do such great divine work? God Himself sends us and so helps us. “It is I who say to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” (Is 41:13b). God will not only help us, but He will empower us. “I will make you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, full of teeth, to thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff.” (Is 41:15). What awesome power! And for what purpose? God uses us as His effective instruments, “that all may see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Is 41:20).

Indeed, God intends for us to be greater than the great John. Given such a privilege, we must act on our destiny.

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