Jesus said of John that “among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than [him]; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).
What did Jesus mean when he said that no one born of woman was greater than John the Baptist?
I see three very specific areas in which John was a great man.
First, John was known for his humility. When they asked John who he was, he pointed them to Jesus. John was the one preparing the way of the Lord. He was the one called of God to turn fathers to the children and children to the fathers. He was the voice crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord.
Yet John showed his humility when he said of Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). John’s humility showed the greatness of his character.
Second. John was filled with the Holy Spirit. God set him apart to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.
Like the Nazarites of the Old Testament (Numbers 6:1-8), John had been set apart for God’s service. The Nazarites did not drink wine, shave their head, or touch a dead body.
Those vows were often for a season; John’s vow was for a lifetime. John was not filled with wine (he was a Nazarite), but he was filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
God’s Spirit came upon him even in the womb to prepare him for his service.
Third, John was great because he gave his whole life to God. He was a Nazarite, not for a season but for life. All of his life was given over to the Lord.
John’s life ended by execution at the hands of the cruel and barbaric Herod the tetrarch. He had John beheaded to fulfill the whim of his stepdaughter.
John preached a message of repentance that prepared the people for the coming of the Messiah.
“Among those born of women, there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” May we be people like John who live our lives to glorify God and follow His will.