“The Best Man”
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Eli′jah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
John the Baptist played a major role in the life of Jesus. Not only was he Jesus’ cousin, he was one of His first disciples, leaping in his mother’s womb in His presence. He was full of the Holy Spirit and prepared the way for Him by proclaiming “the Kingdom of God is at hand” and he introduced Jesus’ public ministry through His baptism in the Jordan. But instead of making a name for himself, he became lesser by telling his disciples to go follow Jesus, and continued to point people to Jesus instead of himself. John the Baptist was arrested by Herod for pointing out his sins, and shortly after these verses was murdered by beheading at Herod’s daughter request from her mother’s prompting after provocatively dancing at her father’s birthday party (Matthew 14:1-12). When Jesus heard of his death, he went by boat to a deserted place by himself (Matthew 14:13). He left to mourn His cousin.
So, how could Jesus tell the crowd that there was no one greater than John, yet he was the least in the kingdom? How could such a great man be the least in the Kingdom of heaven? It all had to do with timing. John was still part of the Old Testament law, the last of the prophets begun by Elijah (ccc 719). He also died before Jesus’ ascension and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
In the context of the Church being the bride of Christ, John the Baptist could be considered the friend (probably His best man) of the Bridegroom. Just as a bride is greater than the friends of the groom, therefore we as Jesus’ bride, His Church, are greater than John the Baptist.
Dearest Bridegroom, please make me the spotless bride that you deserve. Help me during this week to point others to you, just as your best man had, standing up for you at the Altar. I look forward to enjoying the celebration of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb with you for all eternity. I love you! Amen.