*Intro* – How do you measure greatness?
By someone’s position?
The size of their bank account?
It often comes down to size, doesn’t it?
Pastors are not immune.
One pastor went to a conference with an elder.
Asked the size of his church, he said, “Between 8 and 900.”
The elder pulled him aside: “How can you say that?
We don’t average more than 70 people a week” The pastor replied, “Yes, and 70 is between 8 and 900!”
That takes quite a spin doctor.
Most of us will never be great in the world’s eyes, but we have an obligation to be great in God’s eyes.
Lu 12:48, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him (or her) much will be required.”
And we have been given a lot.
The key to our passage this morning in Lu 7:28, “28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John.
Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
That is a loaded verse.
Jesus is saying, “No OT prophet, not Moses, Daniel or Isaiah, was greater than John.
But anyone who is part of the God’s kingdom is greater than John.”
That takes in every believer in this age.
We are all kingdom people, and so, greater than John.
So, in what sense could we possibly be said to be greater than John the Baptist?
Many say it’s because the HS indwells us, which was not true of people in the OT where the HS came selectively on people for specific purposes.
However, that wasn’t true of John.
Remember his father Zechariah was told in Lu 1:15, “and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”
So I take it that John lacked nothing of the Holy Spirit.
So, how are we greater?
The answer has to do with progressive revelation.
God did not just spill His whole plan of redemption from day one.
It was gradually unveiled over time.
Even great prophets like Moses and Isaiah and Daniel did not have the full picture.
They knew that a Messiah was coming and that an ultimate sacrifice for sin had to be made.
But the picture was fuzzy for them.
OT prophets could say at best, “An anointed one (Messiah) is coming,” John could say, “He’s here!
At long last, he is here.”
John knew more than anyone before him.
They had promise; he saw fulfillment.
In that sense, he could be said to be the greatest.
Jesus once told His disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Lu 10:23-24).
The fulfillment was happening and greatness attached to the privilege of seeing and announcing it.
But even John was limited.
His message was, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
He knew repentance was key, but John still did not know or see the whole picture.
He did not see the death and resurrection of Jesus.
He was killed before he saw how redemption would unfold.
But WE have seen it all.
We live, not in an age of promise, but in the age of fulfillment.
We have full knowledge of the person and work of Jesus.
We understand the separation of the two comings of Christ.
Thus, we are greater than John, not in terms of personal character or influence, but because we see and proclaim the fullness of the gospel.
John announced Jesus’ coming, but we are full-fledged ambassadors for Christ – representing all that He is and said and did.
Our issue now is to live up to our great, privileged position!
Now, back to Lu 7:24, “When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John.”
Think how encouraging this is.
John, filled with doubt from unmet expectations and personal adversity, bluntly asks if Jesus is really the One.
Jesus points to His fulfillment of Scripture and sends the messengers back to John.
But, lest these people think less of John for his doubt, Jesus gives a ringing testimony to John’s greatness.
You don’t have to be perfect to be great in God’s eyes.
That’s good news for all of us.
So, despite his flaws, what made John great in God’s eyes?
Unwavering Dedication to Truth*
Lu 7:24, “When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?
A reed shaken by the wind?”
This blows my mind.
This is not exactly John’s finest hour, yet Jesus commends him.
Wouldn’t you want Jesus to brag on you?
What Jesus thinks of us is far more important than what others think.
John is great because his whole life exalts His Lord who exalts him in turn.
Jesus reminds them they thought John was the first prophet in 400 years, and they were right to do so.
Reason 1 was John’s unwavering dedication to truth.
They believed him because there was no compromise in him.
Now having heard him question Jesus, they might conclude that John is fickle!
But character must be judged by the whole life.
They did not go to John because he was like a reed blowing whichever way the wind blew.
They went because he was like an oak tree – unmovable in the truth of his message.
Greatness is shown by dedication to the truth.
When I was a boy we lived on a farm about 7 miles from my grandparents.
I loved something Grandpa had that we didn’t.
He had an electric fence that I found out about the hard way one day.
He had umbrellas on his tractors which I loved.
He had a couple of tractors with hand clutches which were a lot easier than foot clutches at my size at the time.
He had an automatic milking machine.
And he had a big old red barn, on top of which was a metal rooster with an arrow pointing whichever way the wind was blowing.
That old rooster had no mind of his own – no backbone – no commitment to anything other than to go along.
He was not great.
Someone has well said, “Popularity comes from pleasing people; greatness comes from pleasing God.”
You can’t do that by following every human trend that comes down the pike.
That implies two things.
First, we must know truth; we must stand for truth.
Our culture has swallowed the lie that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
Like the rooster, the accept anyone’s belief as truth.
Just blowing in the wind.
It grieves me to say that many Christians are like that.
They can’t stand for truth because they don’t know it.
I often hear statement like this, “All religions are basically the same.
They are just different ways to get to God.”
I have heard cults, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism and Scientology defended because they revere Jesus.