Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, had an unusual flair for fashion, wearing wild-looking clothing made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He lived in the desert wilderness, ate locust and wild honey and preached a strange message and if he lived in today’s world he’d be sent to a psychiatric institution for all that he did. Yet, Jesus said this about his cousin:
I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
After John comes a shift of eras. The new era is so great that the lowest member of it (even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is) is greater than the greatest one of the previous era. Though John was great, he was not born again under the New Covenant. This is because he lived and died before the completion of Jesus’ work at the cross and empty tomb. Therefore, he did not enjoy the benefits of the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 8:6-13).
Now, one might think Jesus is just saying how great John is because he’s His cousin and He’s trying to make His family look good. But Jesus only cares about a person’s righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord Himself said this when someone tried to get His attention because His mother, Mary, and his brothers wanted to see Him:
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they couldn’t get to him because of the crowd. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.”
Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”
Jesus loves all, not just His blood family. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had no special favor with Jesus either then or now. She stands as a wonderful example of one who was privileged by God and stood by Jesus, but she is not on a higher level than anyone who does the will of the Father in heaven.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Jesus changed the order of relationships and showed that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood, race or nationality anymore; we’re all related to each other by true faith in the Lord now. He is the Lord of all creation and as such He loves us all equally. Blood relative or not, no one is more important than those that follow Him.
John the Baptist, a weird guy by today’s standards, but the best man to have ever been born up to that point in time according to the Lord. A man that in today’s world would be viewed as a weirdo and people would cross the street trying to avoid him as he would approach people and yell “repent!” as they passed by.
What’s the excuse of today’s people for not wanting to spread the Gospel? Fear of being rejected? Fear of being alone? Fear of being mocked? Fear of being labeled a crazy person? John the Baptist had his head chopped off because he refused not to speak out against the things that were wrong at his time, yet he was the greatest man ever to have been born up to that point according to the Lord.
Don’t worry about what others might think when you speak about the truth of the Gospel. Stop trying to find excuses to stop following God’s Word. Forget peer pressure, forget your family, forget anything that might stop you from fully committing to the Lord. Be as strong as John the Baptist and live for the Lord, no matter the consequences to your own life because even if everyone in your life abandons you, the Lord will always be at your side. Your days being alive on this Earth are insignificant when compared to eternity in Heaven, or Hell.
John’s message was a call to repentance. Some people think that repentance is mostly about feelings, especially feeling sorry for your sin. It is wonderful to feel sorry about your sin, but repent isn’t a “feelings” word. It is an action word. John told his listeners to make a change of the mind, not merely to feel sorry for what they had done. Repentance speaks of a change of direction, not a sorrow in the heart.
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.