What did Jesus mean when He said, “ “He who is least in the kingdom is greater than John the Baptist” ”? Thank you.
These words of Jesus about John the Baptist are recorded in Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28.
Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (NASB) Matt 11:11
Most of us would agree that the least significant politician at the national level in most countries is more important that the most significant politician at the city level. We would agree, not because we know that one politician is better than another, but because a national responsibility is more important than a responsibility at the local city level.
Jesus makes a similar comparison. The realm called the Kingdom of Heaven (KOH) is greater than the realm of our universe which includes the earth. The KOH is where God dwells (Ps. 14:2). It is holy and will never cease to exist (Ps. 20:6). But the creation which includes our universe and the earth is in a fallen condition due to sin (Rom 8:19-22). It will be destroyed some day (Rev 20:9; 21:1). Those who live in heaven have new bodies that will never perish (1 Cor 15:50). But sinful men and women who do not believe in Jesus cannot live in heaven (John 3:16-18).
At the time Jesus spoke, John the Baptist was a local celebrity in that part of Israel. Yet, John the Baptist was still a sinner and still lived on earth. So Jesus said that the least person in the KOH was greater than John the Baptist. The least person in heaven was holy and had a new immortal body, but John was a sinner on earth. Yes, John the Baptist was going to heaven. But he was not there yet.
The same is true for each of us. The least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than any politician, any president, any king or queen, any pastor, or any church leader. Heaven is the place to be! You can get there by believing in Jesus Christ.