“Of those born of women no one is greater than John the Baptist, but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From John until now the kingdom of God suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” Matthew 11:11-12
John the Baptist was marked by a spiritual hunger that was willing to do anything to live close to God. He lived in the desert separate from all the contaminating forces of this world. He embraced a life of simplicity and was committed to pleasing God and speaking what God wanted, even if it resulted in prison and death.
How could the least of us in the kingdom of God possibly be greater than John? John prepared the way for the kingdom but couldn’t enter it himself. He lived under a covenant that could only restrain evil behavior but lacked power to redeem the human heart. Even though John had an anointed birth and led an exemplary life that made him the best there ever was under the old system, that system could only get him to the doorway of the kingdom of God.
The least person born into this kingdom immediately has greater privilege before God, and greater access to God than anyone in the Old Covenant could ever reach.
John approached God on the basis of the annual temple sacrifices of sheep, goats, and bulls while we approach the throne of grace with a confidence based on the once and for all sacrifice Jesus made of Himself. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
Isn’t it tragic when we as Christians live as though we’re still on the outside trying to get in? What if we combined confidence in what Jesus did for us, with the spiritual hunger of John? What if we lived hungry in the kingdom and used that hunger to easily access all those things that were out of John’s reach? I think we’d change our world!