7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Today’s devotion continues on from yesterday’s passage. John’s disciples, at his instruction, had asked Jesus to confirm his identity, probably in the presence of others. Some in the audience – likely having seen or heard of John before – may have begun to second-guess who John really was, wondering if he might be a criminal of some kind (since he was arrested) instead of some bold prophet, and now that John (through his disciples’ question) seemed to be second-guessing himself.
After addressing John’s doubts by sending the message through the disciples in yesterday’s passage, Jesus turns to address those doubts in the audience’s minds. He reaffirms John’s status not only as one of God’s messengers; in fact, John is the specific messenger heralded by earlier prophet, and there is no greater human than he, elevating John’s status. He publicly acknowledges John’s dedication and service.
Then as if to pre-empt anyone from thinking John earned his credit in God’s eyes by doing all this stuff for Him and living a certain lifestyle, Jesus states clearly that everyone who wants to be considered great in God’s eyes needs to qualify for God’s kingdom, i.e. be saved. Thereafter, Jesus follows up on this point by teaching people about what the kingdom of heaven is like, and how to get there (salvation by trusting and following Him), and kingdom reward dynamics (sincere humility matters, lesser will be greater).
Thoughts for the day
- Know that God sees your service and your heart for him, regardless of whatever feedback you are getting or not getting from people. Remember God alone has the right to assess the eternal value of your work, that you serve God and seek His pleasure and acknowledgement, not that of others. How can you readjust your “feedback-receiving” antenna today?
- How can you pray for those who are in active service for God (paid staff and volunteers) today?
- Jesus lived out kingdom values – genuine humility – when He set aside His status as the Son of God, downgraded himself drastically, allowed Himself to be that wrongly condemned, humiliated, hurt and died, so that we could live eternally. He saw so much value in us that He stuck to this agonizing plan to the end, so that we, the truly unworthy and helpless in terms of achieving God’s standard of holiness, could enter the Kingdom. Take a moment to reflect on the price He paid and what He had to experience to get us our “entry tickets,” and let Him know how grateful you are.
Dear God and heavenly father, help me to continually and increasingly appreciate what you’ve done for me. As I go about my day trying to do the right thing(s), remind me that I live and carry out my duties and responsibilities the “right way” because of what you have done for me, not because I need to earn any credit.
Remind me that you’re the real reviewer of my performance. If you should send some human acknowledgement my way, I appreciate that and thank you. If you’re not sending it my way today or for a while, then help me not to go chasing for that; rather keep me steadily and faithfully following you, you let me know how I’m doing.
Also, thank you also for those who have made time and effort to serve you, power them up, keep them going, and love on them big time! Amen