NO GREATER PROPHET THAN JOHN THE BAPTIST
Luke 7:24-28 And 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? But what went ye out for to see, a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they, which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out for to see, a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Also See Matthew 11:7-11)
In the verses proceeding the lesson text Jesus confirmed to John the Baptist that He was the promised Messiah and the Son of God. This He did through John's disciples. They heard His teaching and witnessed the miracles He performed to establish that fact, and they returned to John, who was in prison at this time, with this news. Jesus proved that he had the same power as God, Himself, over sickness, disease, physical maladies, as well as the power over Satan's demons that possessed the minds and bodies of some men and women during that biblical era.
After John's disciples were departed, to return to him, Jesus began to speak unto the people concerning John. He told them about John's birth, his life, and his God-appointed mission on earth. Looking back to the first chapter of Luke, we find that John was born to Zacharias and Elisabeth approximately six months before the birth of Jesus. Luke also tells us that many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:14b-17). In similar language, Matthew gave us this information about John: In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight (Matt. 3:1-3). As the result of John's preaching, many Jews went out to him (people from) Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins (Matt. 3:5-6).
With this reminder of John and his mission, we can clearly understand why Jesus asked the multitudes this question: What went ye out into the wilderness for to see, a reed shaken with the wind? With this analogy, Jesus was asking them, what their reason was to go out to see John and hear his preaching of repentance and baptism. Did they expect to hear a preacher that would "tickle their ears" with what they desired to hear - a preacher that, like a reed always swayed in both directions as it was blown by the wind; a preacher that would vacillate from one opinion to another just to please his audience? Likewise, did they go out to see a man clothed in soft raiment? Did they expect to find John dressed in fine apparel that spoke with smooth words that would not offend anyone? Or did they go out to see and hear a prophet sent by God with a message of encouragement to obediently live a righteous life? Jesus then tells them that John is much more than a prophet. By having a greater mission, he is more distinguished than the prophets of old. This is the only reason acceptable to our Lord, that is, to see, hear, and obey this greater prophet of God.
Both Luke, in the lesson text, and Matthew in the comparable passage, say that the true mission of John the Baptist, as God's messenger, was to prepare the Jewish people for the coming of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And, in doing so, he became the greatest of all prophets of God. However, both Matthew and Luke add this prophetic statement by Jesus. He said about John, that although he is the greatest prophet of all times: he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Why? It was because the kingdom of God had not been established at that time. Although, he and many other messenters of God had prophesied about it, neither John or any other Old Testament prophet saw or was privileged to enter the church of Christ that was established on the Day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension back into heaven, following His death, burial, and resurrection.You and I have that privalege!