“Greater than John the Baptist” Matthew 11:2-11 Devotional

Christians are supposed to be humble.

And happy with the situation that God has bestowed upon them.

But in this passage, Jesus allows a hint of ambition for anyone who is following the way of the old rugged cross.

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.

Matthew 2:11 NIV

Everyone has heard about John the Baptist and his martyrdom at the order of King Herod the Great.

We all know John had a simple life, a suffering life, a life that had only one ambition – to point to the coming Messiah.

It’s not a resume most people would seek. Nasty clothes, weird food, social rejection, and finally death by a corrupt government.

But Jesus said JOHN was the greatest prophet!

That’s just like our savior – His economy of the Spirit was never about temporary success in this world. It was always the humble, the abused, the desperate, and the bizarre who merited praise.

So how can you exceed the “greatness” of John the Baptist? What does it mean to be greater than this lonely prophet?

When John’s movement gained momentum, it was short lived. The next prophet came on the scene and took his market share. That prophet we now know as Jesus the Christ.

When John spoke the truth to power, it was the powers that won the argument. His god-imagine head finally a trophy at a drunken dinner party.

Do you want to be like John? Do you imagine a greater path of misery.

Then remember the kind words of Jesus. The praise of our King.

Single minded devotion to Christ. The focused mission of God to make Christ known:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

Matthew 11:10

That leaves us with some simple questions:

Who are we preparing for the Lord?

Where are we going to blaze a trail for the coming of our Savior?

This is true greatness, but it’s not easy. It will always be a road less traveled.

Devotional Prayer


Remove the ambitions of the world,
focus my ambitions on your will.

Remove the praise of the world,
focus my ears on your words.

Remove the desires of my heart,
focus my desires on your mission.

Make me into a person who merits your praises,
so that I can show the world the way back to you.


Key Question for Reflection

Am I willing to follow God’s plan, even when the road is hard and the rewards don’t come in this life?

Matthew 11:2-11 (NIV) Jesus and John the Baptist

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

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? 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. 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:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

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.

Matthew 11:2-11 NIV on Bible Gateway

Bible Study on Matthew 11

See Matthew 11 on Wikipedia for background information. See Matthew 11 on Bible Hub for parallel chapter for your Bible studies.

Liturgical Reference

Revised Common Lectionary for THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT. Year A. December 15, 2019

Sunday School

See Matthew 11:2-11 children’s message and Matthew 11:2-11 Sunday School Bible Studies.

Are you willing to follow the path of Jesus’ cross? Are you willing to suffer for the Kingdom in the way John the Baptist suffered? Are you willing to become greater than John the Baptist?

3 thoughts on ““Greater than John the Baptist” Matthew 11:2-11 Devotional”

  1. I appreciate the single-hearted devotion to Christ present in this devotional.
    One brief point…I believe John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. Not Herod the Great. Herod the Great died while Mary, Joseph & Jesus were in Egypt. Hence the dream to Joseph that “those that seek the Child are dead.” It was also Antipas that had taken Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, thus incurring the ire of John, resulting in his imprisonment & ultimate beheading.
    We are doing a series on John the Forerunner so have been reading on my own for background & studying other devotionals. Thank you so much for your thoughts!!


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