According to Jesus Christ, John the Baptist was the greatest man to have ever lived. Matthew 11:11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
He is saying here that John was greater than Adam, Abraham, David, and all of the Old Testament prophets. And we can take this further and say that he just said that John was greater than Paul the apostle and Mary his mother plus Joseph his human father figure. And we who are the least are greater the John the Baptist and all the rest.
Jesus himself was born of a human mother but not of a human father, because God was his biological father so he does not count when he says that John is the greatest person ever born of a women. John could never be greater than Jesus who is the only Son of God and would die for all humanity. But John could be greater than Moses or Samuel because he came to announce the arrival of Jesus Christ. Mark 1:2-8 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
In John the Baptist we have a very strange phenomenon in that the greatest man who was ever born among women, died by having his head cut off because of a belly dancer. Another strange event in the life of John is that he did no miracles even though he was a prophet and outside of the few times he is mentioned in the gospels he wrote nothing about Jesus and nothing more is heard of him once he is killed. For a man who was thought of so highly and was related to our Lord Jesus Christ this seems like a strange ending.
Can you imagine John sitting in a filthy prison cell without water and light after having just announced the arrival of the Savior of the world? He must have known that Jesus could have helped him escaped or even talked to the king about letting him go. After all he had just said that John was the greatest man alive. Do not great men live in palaces and wear fancy clothes. Do they not have Gulf Stream jets and drive BMW and Mercedes Benz?
Matthew 11:7-10 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9 Then what 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: NIV
When I am feeling down I like to think about how John the Baptist would have felt as he waited for some relief from his misery. He saw Jesus, was related to Jesus and was a mighty prophet according to Jesus. He knew that Jesus was the Son of God after God the Father spoke to him and told him who Jesus was. Matthew 3:16-17 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
And yet when his spirit was broken and his faith had vanished he sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was really the Christ. Matthew 11:2-3 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"
I wonder how much confusion this poor man had in his head knowing that he would soon die from one form or another because he had to decrease while Jesus would increase. He was not divine, he was just like us so we know that he must have suffered a great deal. Understand that the greatest man alive had his head served on a platter to satisfy the urges of a crazy woman. This I sometimes refer to as the black hole of God that the greatest die such nasty deaths and live such humble lives. In the human world the great are full of pomp and ease but in God the great are made to suffer and are hated by the society. Luke 16:15."Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men, is abomination in the sight of God." KJV-
I think that John suffered so much that he went mad and finally had to ask if Jesus was really the Christ. At some point he also had to ask himself if God was really who He claimed to be and if so, how this could have happened to him. After living in the desert all his life with no human comfort to speak of he surely would have thought of having a decent life after his work was done. But God could never have let him live because he would have been made an idol by the people just as God hid the body of Moses lest the people make an idol of it.
That the gospel has taken such a turn in this modern world is still a wonder to me. Men now work very hard to be seen as great men of God and modern Idols. The very foundation of Christianity is to be a servant and not a master.
Matthew 18:3-4 And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
John 13:12-17 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
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