John’s Greatness: His Privileged Call

“‘But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell 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.” Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’” (Matthew 11:9–11).

God always calls the right person to the right position in the realm of greatness. In John, the greatest man and the greatest human assignment converged—God called him as the valedictory prophet, the most dynamic, articulate, confrontational, and powerful spokesman ever.

Jesus quotes Malachi 3:1 in declaring to the people that John’s privileged call meant he was more than an ordinary prophet. We could expand the Lord’s quotation this way: “Behold, I, Yahweh, send My messenger John the Baptist to be the forerunner of You, the Messiah, and to prepare the people for Your coming.” After centuries of divine preparation and prophecy, God gave John the unequaled privilege of heralding Messiah’s coming.

Jesus’ point here in calling John the greatest is that, humanly speaking, he was the greatest person who had lived until that time. With his superior human qualities, John was unequaled until the God-Man Himself came to earth.

John the Baptist was a spiritual giant, but his privileged call mainly concerned his historic role. In spiritual inheritance, every believer is the equal of John: “The least in the kingdom of heaven [the spiritual realm] is greater than he.” Average saints are greater than anyone in the human realm, including John the Baptist, the one called to be the messianic forerunner. That’s a reality for which we should be ever thankful as Christians.

Ask Yourself

How would you define the specific calling God has placed on your life? What duties and responsibilities go into your faithful performance of it? How is God employing your natural abilities in serving Him, while also providing you spiritual gifts as vehicles of grace to others?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.