John the Immerser: Greater
Other than Jesus, can you think of any person in the Bible who would be greater than Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, any of the judges including Samuel, any of the Old Testament prophets and even greater than David, the man after God’s own heart? This is not a trick question. The Bible says there is someone who is greater than any of those righteous men just listed.
Hear the words of Jesus. “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). We may have overlooked the importance of this great man.
John had an immediate and far-reaching impact when he began his work. He obviously did not look like those religious leaders among the Jews who wore special clothing and designed their clothes so that would appear to men to be holier than others (Matt. 23:5). Their prayers were ornate and used as a public display of their pretended righteousness (Matt. 6:5).
What did John look like? Jesus asked the Jews of his day what did they see when they saw John in the wilderness. The Lord said he was not a man clothed in soft garments, for those who wear soft clothing live in the kings’ palaces (Matt. 11:8). You know his clothing and his diet. He was clothed in camel’s hair with a leather belt and ate locust and wild honey (Matt. 3:4). He did not look like any religious leader of his day, yet look at the impact he had. “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized of him, confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:5-6).
Some thought John was Elijah who had come returned to the earth, perhaps because his clothing was like that of the prophet (2 Kings 1:8). Some thought he was that Prophet who was to come and be like Moses (Deut. 18:18). Others thought he was the Messiah. John denied that he was any of these (John 1:20-21).
Who was John and what made him so great? Two Old Testament prophets foretold his coming and described the work he would do which made his so great. That testament ends with a prophecy about his coming before the Messiah, and Isaiah described him as the voice in the wilderness as the forerunner of the Christ (Mal. 4:5-6; Isa. 40:3-5). Jesus himself said that John was “…more than a prophet” (Matt. 11:9).
What made him so great? Almost all of those holy men of old talked about the coming of the Messiah in various ways. John not only talked about Him, John said He is here—”Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:29).
By the way, there is someone other than Jesus who is greater than John living on the earth today—read Matt. 11:11.