Daily Word

Big shoes | Matthew 11: 7-15

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 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. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 11:7-15 (ESV)

John reprise

Remember John the Baptist from Matthew 3:1-6? As this passage from Malachi 3:1 states, John was the messenger to proclaim the coming Messiah. In yesterday’s passage, Jesus responded to his disciples’ question about His own identity. Today, Jesus talks up John – how great he was among all the OT saints. But He compares John to those “in the kingdom of heaven”.

Big shoes

In all human history, Jesus says no one is greater than John the Baptist! Wow, what big shoes to fill. That’s referring to Abraham the man of faith (Galatians 3:9) and all the patriarchs, Moses the friend of God (Exodus 33:11), David the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) down through the prophets – including Elijah (v14). But based on yesterday’s passage and John, himself, wanting to know if Jesus was the “the one who is to come” (v3), it seems that this John was not a superman. He was actually quite awkward; certainly not a prince let alone a King. None of these guys were perfect or sinless – even (especially) David who indeed was a king.

Greater than John?

With this great setup of John, who could ever be greater? “As we may say, as a rule, that the darkest day is lighter than the brightest night; so John, though first of his own order, is behind the last of the new or Gospel order. The least in the Gospel stands on higher ground than the greatest under the law.” (Spurgeon, pp 92-93) So, even the least in the new covenant times (after the death and resurrection of Christ) is greater than the old covenant (based on the law) since the one is saved – and that, by grace; the other relied on works of the law. 

Violence in the Kingdom

Verse 12 is quite complicated with many differences of opinion. It seems to me that the violence is those who have been called to repent and accept the Messiah but do not. Those who “take it by force” do repent and come to believe in the Messiah. In this way, the Kingdom of Heaven comes.


  • Have you repented of your sins and asked the Messiah to forgive you as you by faith trust in Him alone? If not, click here.
  • If you have, thank God for His grace that saves us. We were born in the new covenant times and have been called and enabled by faith to receive salvation in Christ by grace.
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