Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
1) Matthew 11 - Verse 9 and following
There hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.  In the estimate of earth's Judge, John is the greatest of the
race, greater even than the prophets ("more than a prophet") but in what sense?

John's superiority also lay in the function he performed in the Messianic planning.  His was the unique glory of being
the immediate forerunner of the Messiah.  Though a great prophet like Moses and Elijah, he not only prophesied,
but lived to see and point out to others the Messiah of whom he had spoken.

Yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  This bewildering amendment is a paradox and
calculated to keep His audience seeking its meaning for a long time to come.  Our vantage point on this side of the
cross, the empty tomb and Pentecost not only removes the mystery in His apparent inconsistency, but also proves
the truth of His assertion.

What phase of the kingdom of heaven is meant here?  If by the kingdom of heaven (or of God) we mean "the rule of
God," then in no sense can John the Baptist be excluded from the kingdom.

The Church of Jesus Christ is the highest earthly expression of the Government of God, so that one might say that,
wherever the Church goes, there is the Kingdom of God in action.  While no thoughtful person will confuse the
Church for the Kingdom, yet there is this important, undeniable sense in which the whole concept of it's Jesus
Christ, otherwise known as His Church.  His inferiority is not calculated in reference to his personal confidence in
Jesus or dependence upon God, as if he were to be thought of as a man of wavering faith merely because of his
question sent to Jesus.  The problem here centers not around his faith but upon his function, his position in the
messianic scheme of things.

So the interesting paradox is true:  "He that is less than John is greater than John."  The least born of the Holy Spirit
(John 1:12-13, John 3:5) is greater than the greatest born of women.

Matthew 11:12 - and from the days of John the Baptist until now kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and men of
two views are generally held in regard.  In a good sense, only violent men could gain entrance to, or possession.  
Men, who seek it with burning zeal and having found it, force their way into it.  They give all they have to enter it, a
struggle that is viewed favorably by the King.

The energy and the force with which the kingdom comes (or is brought) instill a similar energy and force in those
whom the kingdom wins for itself.

Always my Kingdom will suffer violence; always savage men will try to break it up and snatch it away and destroy it;
and therefore only the man who is desperately in earnest, only the man in whom the violence of devotion matches
and defeats the violence of persecution will in the end enter into it.  It may well be that this saying of Jesus was
originally at one and the same time a warning of violence to come and a challenge to produce a devotion which
would be even stronger than the violence.
Back to Matthew 11 Study Index Page