TEXT: Matthew 11:7-15
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mary Fairchild said, “Through God’s direction, John the Baptist challenged the people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by turning away from sin and being baptized as a symbol of repentance. Although he held no power or influence in the Jewish political system, he delivered his message with the force of authority. People could not resist the overpowering truth of his words, as they flocked by the hundreds to hear him and be baptized. And even as he attracted the attention of the crowds, he never lost sight of his mission—to point people to Christ.”
John MacArthur used this story to describe John the Baptist’s greatness:
When the great Chrysostom was arrested by the Roman emperor, he sought to make the Greek Christian deny his faith and recant, but he was unsuccessful. So the emperor discussed with his advisers what they could do to this prisoner. “Shall I put him in a dungeon?” the emperor asked. “No,” one of his counselors replied, “for he’ll be glad to go. He longs for the quietness where he can delight in the mercies of his God.” “Then he shall be executed,” said the emperor. “No,” came the answer, “for he’ll be glad to die. He declares that in the event of death he will be in the presence of the Lord. “Well, what shall we do then?” the ruler asked. “There’s only one thing that will cause him pain. Make him sin. He’s afraid of nothing but sin.”
Isn’t that a great testimonial? That’s much like John. Scripture confirms the value of a person with conviction. James says, “Don’t be a double minded person, going whatever way is easy.” Paul says in Ephesians 4:14, “Don’t be blown about by every wind of doctrine.” Be a person of conviction. Now that is a mark of greatness. You go back in history, and just from the human perspective now, you mark out the great people of human history and you will find they were people who had convictions about something, and they pursued those convictions to the end. That’s a mark of their greatness. There are lots of people who can go in short spurts and then be intimidated out of that conviction or can’t sustain it for a lifetime. But the great ones, against all opposition, carry through.
In our last messages, we saw that John the Baptist was the greatest of all time because he stood firm in his message. He was the greatest of all time because he refused worldly comforts and political power to focus on his mission. And third, John the Baptist was the G.O.A.T. because he followed his call to point others to Christ. Now, let’s look at how we can be greater than John, according to Jesus.
After praising John, Jesus says this: “notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” In other words, Jesus was saying that the least Christian was greater before John the Baptist. This is not because we are more holy than John, far from it. This is because John only preached of Christ’s coming. He did not live to see Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and was still under the Old Testament dispensation. He did not experience the blessings of the new covenant. Those who have accepted Christ as Saviour under the New dispensation preach of a salvation already finished, rather than one yet to come. And by the way, if you are wondering how John the Baptist and the Old Testament believers were saved, they were saved the same way we are: through believing in Christ. The difference is that they had a hopeful faith in a Saviour that was still in the future, while we have a fulfilled faith in a Saviour whose blood has already been shed to cover our sins.
The meaning of “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” has been debated among scholars. David Guzik said, “Jesus’ reference to violence refers to both the intensity of spiritual warfare surrounding the ministry of Jesus and His herald, and also to the intensity required to persevere in following God and His kingdom. The exact sense of this has been greatly debated, and is made more difficult by complicated grammar. D.A. Carson probably gives the best sense of both expressions. ‘The kingdom has come with holy power and magnificent energy that has been pushing back the frontiers of darkness. This is especially manifest in Jesus’ miracles and ties in with Jesus’ response to the Baptist. The kingdom is making great strides; now is the time for courageous souls, forceful people, to take hold of it.’”
Let us all aim to be like John the Baptist. We need to reject compromise and hold no regard for the esteem of men, but work tirelessly to point others to Jesus Christ. Like John the Baptist assumed the office of the prophet Elijah, we need to preach the message of John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Second Coming of the Lord on the earth. We need to reject worldly measures of greatness and aspire to what is great in the eyes of God: to deny ourselves so that others may receive the great salvation.
Isaac Watts wrote:
Begin, my tongue, some heavenly theme
and speak some boundless thing,
the mighty works or mightier name,
of our eternal king.
Tell of his wondrous faithfulness,
and sound his power abroad;
sing the sweet promise of his grace
and our fulfilling God.
How would my leaping heart rejoice,
and think my heaven secure!
I trust the all-creating voice,
and faith desires no more.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 18:8: “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your Salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at [email protected] and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.