True Greatness

Christ gives his testimony of the greatest man born till date – John the Baptist. He confirms that he is Elijah who is to come. He commends him for his powerful advancement of God’s kingdom. He indicates what it takes to attain true greatness.


  • Bible Passages – Matt 11:7-15; Luke 7:24-35; 16:16

    The Great

    The Greater

    • Brand Ambassador
    • Blazing Trails
    • Better than Elijah

    The Greatest


To understand:

  • Greatness in the eyes of Jesus
  • How John the Baptist blazed trails of glory

Bible Passage

Matthew 11:7 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. 

Bible Passage

Matt 11:9 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; 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.

The great

Jesus dramatically introduces John in a manner replicated by the introduction to superman

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! it’s superman!!”

The Great

A “reed shaken by the wind?”

Reeds in Christ’s time looked externally feeble but were strengthened by many roots.

To some he is Captain Caveman, to others a prophet.. Jesus endows him with greater credentials than all great men of the past

The Greater

Why was he greater?

In addition to having the qualities of the greats that walked earlier, he had a personal encounter with Jesus.

He was:

  • Better than Elijah
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Blazing Trails

Better than Elijah

He is similar in

  • Attire
  • royal connections
  • wilderness life
  • Forceful messages, etc.

Brand Ambassador

Definitely not our stereotype, yet far more powerful.

Blazing trails

The “violence” in vs. 12 can be explained via the Luke parallel – implying the kingdom of God is powerfully advancing

Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 

What did John do differently to other religious leaders in his time and our time? What can we learn from this?

The Greatest

Matthew 11:11b yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Matthew 11:15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Why are subsequent followers of Jesus greater than John?

John’s was a physical encounter, ours is Spiritual – post Christ’s death, we have the privilege of being cleansed by His blood

Christ’s hierarchy of Greatness


The Great – prophets, nobles, etc

The Greater – John was greater than all those who came before. Yet so humble he did not project he was Elijah who is to come

  • Brand Ambassador
  • Blazing Trails
  • Better than Elijah

The Greatest – A believer washed and cleansed by the blood of Christ has an even higher status in God’s sight.


1.Why does John deny he is Elijah? (John 1:21) Does this conflict with Christ’s affirmation (Matt 11)?

2.What do we learn from Christ’s hierarchy of greatness?

3.What practical steps can we take to achieve true greatness?

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