John the Baptist was the herald of the coming of the Christ. He led the people of his age away from sin and led them in a return to goodness. Why then did Jesus proclaim that the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John?
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.
I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
Jesus loved John. He honored him when he said that no one born of women is greater than John. But because of his untimely death John never experienced the salvation brought through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He lived and died in the days before the advent of the Kingdom of God. He was a man of the previous age, a herald of the great age to come.
We are so fortunate to live in our age, in which the work of salvation has already been accomplished by Jesus!