What About John the Baptist?
Matthew 11:9 “But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Indeed I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10For this is of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face who shall prepare thy way before thee.’ 11Verily I say unto you, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist among them that are born of women. Notwithstanding, he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
What is less than the least?
Consider the following text, noting the underscored text:
Matthew 18:1 At the same time the disciples came unto Yeshua saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2And Yeshua called a little child unto Him. And He set him in the midst of them. 3And He said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven!”
Children take things literally.
Also, consider this passage:
Luke 7:15 And he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother. 16And there came a fear on all. And they glorified God, saying that “a great prophet is risen up among us,” and that “God hath visited His people.” 17And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea and throughout all the region round about. 18And the disciples of John showed him of all these things. 19And John, calling two of his disciples, sent [them] to Yeshua, saying, “Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?” 20When the men were come unto Him, they said, “John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, ‘Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?’” 21And in that same hour He cured many of infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits. And He gave sight unto many blind. 22Then Yeshua answering said unto them, “Go your way and tell John what things ye have seen and heard—how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the gospel is preached to the poor. 23And blessed is whosoever shall not be offended in me.” 24And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John: “What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 25But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they who are gorgeously apparelled and live delicately are in kings’ courts. 26But what went ye out to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet!”
John had a troubling problem. He was offended by Yeshua because he thoroughly expected Him to restore the Kingdom to Israel at this timeeven though many vital texts that had to occur before that time were yet unfulfilled. Since Yeshua didn’t restore the kingdom at this time, John became no longer sure that Yeshua was “He that should come”—the Messiah. Thus, even at his death, though “among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist,” he died not being sure of the identity of the Messiah. The disciples of John were also badly shaken at the lack of the Messianic Kingdom fulfillment in Messiah’s lifetime and John’s doubts. Yet John had had the very witness of the Spirit of God, as noted in this passage:
John 1:32 And John bare record, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove. And it abode upon Him. 33And I didn’t know Him, but He Who sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, ‘Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is He Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” 34And I saw. And I bare record that this is the Son of God. 35Again, the next day after, John stood, and two of his disciples. 36And looking upon Yeshua as He walked, he says, “Behold the Lamb of God!” 37And the two disciples heard him speak. And they followed Yeshua. 38Then Yeshua turned. And He saw them following. And He says unto them, “What do ye seek?” They said unto Him, Rabbi (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou?” 39He says unto them, “Come and see!” They came and saw where He dwelt. And they abode with Him that day. For it was about the tenth hour. 40One of the two that heard John and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first finds his own brother Simon. And he says unto him, “We have found the Messiah!”
John was truly offended at Yeshua because He didn’t fulfill the Messianic promises of the restored Kingdom. John’s disciples had fasted on account of this restoration, awaiting it as if it would be very soon.
While John was a prophet (which proves nothing about Salvation, since Balaam and King Saul also prophesied), he wasn’t fully convinced of the very things he had prophesied to Israel.
If one is less than the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, where does he stand?