Matthew 11:11 reads, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (NKJV). We need to answer two questions: 1) What made John greater than all those born before him? and 2) What is the kingdom of heaven (of which John was not a part of)?

1) John was the greatest of all men for it was his privilege to announce, to the nation of Israel, that their Messiah had come and was in their very midst. The Old Testament had foretold that a prophet would arise who would proclaim this wonderful truth. Malachi 3:1 says, “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts.”  John was that MESSENGER! Isaiah 40:3 states, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight the desert a highway for our God.” John was that VOICE! How can we be sure? Matthew 3:1-3 declare, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice on one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.’” John was been called the FORERUNNER of the Lord and these verses support that statement. There were many other great prophets who predicted the coming of the Messiah, but it was John’s great privilege to actually SEE HIM and to ANNOUNCE HIM to the children of Israel.

2) It is obvious that John did not live to enter the “kingdom of heaven” so we need to know what the kingdom of heaven is. There are TWO VIEWS that are espoused by very godly men.

In VIEW #1 the kingdom of heaven is THE CHURCH OF GOD, the “heavenly kingdom” that came into existence on the Day of Pentecost AFTER John had died. I would encourage you to read Acts chapter 2, which ends with these words, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” The church is made up of those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior and have been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13 and 1st Corinthians 12:13). As great as John the Baptist was, he was not given the privilege to be baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, thus the least member of the church is greater, in the POSITION they occupy, than John the Baptist. They are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

In VIEW #2 the kingdom of heaven is the literal “earthly kingdom” that will eventually be established by the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns to earth in power and glory. We read in Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” We then read that He will gather all men before Him and separate the saved from the unsaved (verses 32-33) and He will then say to those who are saved, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” John the Baptist had announced this kingdom, but he was never allowed the privilege of entering into that kingdom (for his message was rejected and he was killed…see Matthew 11:12-18; 17:10-14; 14:1-12). So, as great as John the Baptist was, he was not able to enter into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth. We saw from Matthew 25:31 that many will enter into that kingdom and enjoy all the blessings that Christ will bestow on them during His Millennial reign, thus their POSITION and BLESSINGS will be greater than John’s.  (412.1)  (DO)