Isn’t it striking to read these words from John the Baptist, when just eight chapters earlier he was saying to Jesus “I need to be baptized by You”? (Matt. 3:14, NKJV) We know from the book of John that he also proclaimed prophetically about Him at that time, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! …I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29, 34, NKJV).
So why was he now questioning what God had shown him?
John was now facing the cruel reality of prison. He was enduring the most painful time he’d experienced in all his earthly years. His life was hanging by a thread. I’m sure he knew that his execution was a strong probability. The Romans were merciless. This was not the way he had hoped the story would go. When God pointed out to him the longed-for Messiah, how his soul must have surged with joy! What glories he must have envisioned!
And now he was in chains and misery.
What strikes me even more, though, is what Jesus declared about him, right after John expressed his doubting question. In the very hour of John’s greatest struggle, Jesus proclaimed, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11, NLT).
Wait a minute, Jesus. Didn’t You hear John’s messengers correctly? He was doubting God’s word about You! How can you so emphatically proclaim his greatness to us? None greater than him?? But he’s waffling!
I can see Jesus smiling lovingly and repeating, “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” You and I can take great encouragement from this moment recorded in Matthew. Are you, too, going through a time when things have not turned out the way you dreamed they would? Are you questioning what you believed God had shown you? Are you struggling to hold onto what He has said? Is there a battle going on inside of you over the word of promise He gave you?
When His servant John was in that vulnerable place, His response was to trumpet his greatness. He saw beyond John’s struggle to the gold being purified on the inside of him. And He sees beyond your struggle to the glory being produced in you, too.
Stop and lean into Holy Spirit. As you quiet yourself before Him, you will hear Him proclaiming how amazing you are. In your lowest moment, He is your biggest Fan. He is your loudest cheerleader. He is your greatest, most passionate Encourager. As you continue to persevere and fight the good fight of faith, He is shouting your approval.
He is fiercely proud of you as He watches you. His heart bursts with delight in you. And you know what? He considers you even greater than John the Baptist! How do I know that? Look here, at the continuation of that verse: “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!”
When you received Jesus into your heart, you became a part of the Kingdom of Heaven… and you became great in Him. The very King of the Universe came to live inside of you. You are His home. You! That is mind blowing. Dear one, you are great in Him!!
Today, He lifts up His voice to announce your greatness to the four winds. But He also softens it to speak to your heart of hearts. Do you hear His whisper? “Don’t give up, My precious child. There is greatness on the inside of you! I am so proud of you!!”
Have you experienced God pouring encouragement into you during dark moments?