Written by: Bill Elliff
“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)
All of us want to fulfill our destiny and rise to whatever level of usefulness we can by the grace of God. Certainly John the Baptist achieved this as illustrated by Christ’s statement.
John was a prophet and the last in a line that stretched back through an entire age to the beginning of time. He was the final Old Testament prophet before the new age of the Kingdom of God that Jesus was announcing and bringing.
So what made Him great? What was it about John that made him so usable to prepare a highway for the coming Christ?
Greatness comes by being filled with the Spirit
John was filled with the Spirit in His mother’s womb. He had God in Him and on Him. He did His work in the authority of one who had the Spirit of God speaking through him.
The men we need for the revival we need must be men who see intimacy with Christ as their first passion. They are the first line repenters. The first intercessors. They must be men who are ruthlessly intent upon being filled with God. The modern-day prophets who see ahead and lead us there.
Greatness comes by unwavering convictions
John as no “reed shaken by the wind” (Matthew 11:7). He stood in the face of constant persecution and was undeterred in his convictions. He was unafraid to speak up, calling sin “sin” and leading men to repent so they would be ready for Christ’s coming.
We are in a day that is increasingly dark. We must have men who are willing, with grace and truth, to highlight the darkness and point men to the Light with no fear. Who have no reservations in their convictions and are unwavering in their proclamation of the Word of God. Men who have God’s truth burning in their hearts and preach it in the power of the Spirit’s anointing.
Greatness comes by choosing God’s work over personal comfort
John was not a “man dressed in soft clothing” but a wild man of the woods in skins that ate locusts! (Matthew 11:8) He did what needed to be done—refusing personal comfort and pleasure—in order to accomplish the work. This world did not matter to him.
If we are to be useful, we must die to a life of comfort, ease, and worldly pleasure. God will bring necessary rest, but we must not live a self-pleasing, self-focused life. We must remember that “whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25) And we must enter into the pleasure, the exquisite joy, that comes from the presence of Christ (Psalm 16:11).
Greatness comes by being a messenger who points people to Jesus
John said that he was merely a “voice crying in the wilderness” (Matthew 3:3). He had one agenda and it was not to point to himself. All of his attention was on Jesus. And his unceasing goal was to decrease so Christ could increase. He left a life of self-forgetfulness so that Christ could fill the scene.
Our hearts can deceive us. Even the best of leaders can subtly yield to the temptation to do right things for wrong motivations. We can easily live for our reputation instead of His. A usable man, a great man, has settled the issue of why and how he lives.
It is interesting to think that John was just a few months older than Jesus and was martyred at the beginning of Jesus’ life. This means he must have been 30 years old. A short life, but a life that completely fulfilled its destiny and lives forever as a model of true greatness by the grace of God.
Dear Lord, however many years I have left, may I be like John the Baptizer so that with a Spirit-filled, bold, unwavering voice, I may point men to YOU.
(copyright Bill Elliff, All Rights Reserved)
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.