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Jesus Lifts Us Up

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) … “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

The verse above is a statement given by Jesus about the great preacher we know as John the Baptist. What you may not know is that this great statement about John the Baptist was given to him at one of the lowest points of his life. John was in prison. He was in prison in the fortress of Machaerus because he had courageously denounced the adulterous marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias (Luke 3:19–20). Furthermore, he was beginning to have doubts about Jesus. In this chapter, we find John the Baptist sending one of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Discouragement and danger can often cause our faith to be somewhat shaken. What we find is at the lowest point of John’s life, Jesus reaches down and lifts him up in the highest of spiritual ways. As John Philipps puts it, “the Lord pays tribute to John’s sterling character, moral fiber, natural ability, spiritual stature, and unflinching resolve. Born into the priestly line, John had renounced a career in the priesthood to become a lonely, ascetic, wilderness prophet. He was a true visionary, a spiritual giant.”[1]

It is not difficult to sympathize with John as he suffered in prison. He was a man of the desert, yet he was confined indoors. He was an active man, with a divine mandate to preach; yet he was silenced. He had announced judgment, and yet that judgment was slow in coming (Matt. 3:7–12). He received only partial reports of Jesus’ ministry and could not see the total picture.

Our Lord’s reply to John revealed both tact and tenderness. He reminded John of the Old Testament prophecies about the works of Messiah (Isa. 29:18–19; 35:4–6). John’s disciples had already told him what Jesus was doing (Luke 7:18), but Jesus asked them to “show John again.” John had come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17), and even Elijah had his days of discouragement! Jesus assured John that He was fulfilling the Father’s will.[2]

The lesson is this, Jesus sees our low moments just like he sees our high moments of faith. When we need Jesus most, He is there to lift us up and set us higher in faith and fortitude in Him. While we might at times be tempted to give up on Jesus, we must remember that Jesus will never give up on us!

[1] Phillips, J. (2014). Exploring the Gospel of Matthew: An Expository Commentary (Mt 11:11a). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 40). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.


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