He who is least in the kingdom of God
Luke 7:11-35 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. 12 Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” 17 This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district.
18 The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19 Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” 20 When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” 21 At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
24 When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ 28 I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.
31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ 33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
John 1:29-34 says: The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” Yet in today’s text, when John was imprisoned and facing death, it says: The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” Even John needed reassurance and encouragment. Later in the text Jesus says: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John…” When John asked for reassurance, Jesus did not respond with a rebuke for a lack of faith. Instead, Jesus praised Him, then pointed to the evidence, the things that could be seen. Indeed as 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, we are to walk by faith not by sight. We are not to depend on the evidence of our circumstances, but rather we depend on our belief in Christ, that He has overcome the world (John 16:33) and that we are overcomers through Him. (Romans 8:37) Like John though, if we need assurance and encouragment, Jesus says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) Sometimes we need to look beyond our own circumstances to see with eyes of faith. There are miracles happening every day, all around the world. If we ask and seek, Jesus will reveal Himself to us even in the most difficult circumstances. In Matthew 28:20, He promises: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Romans 8:35-39 says: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or word? … In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Look what Jesus says about us in today’s text. He does not rebuke us rather as He did John, He praises and assures us: “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Isn’t that really the greatest miracle of all, that through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we are those who are in the kingdom of heaven? We who are least are great in Him and nothing can separate us from His love.
May the words of the psalmist be our declaration and prayer:
The Lord is
my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths
of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before
me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.