In any field of interest, the question of the G.O.A.T, or Greatest of All Time, inevitably arises.
Michael Jordan. Meryl Streep. Babe Ruth. Jerry Rice. Albert Einstein. Abraham Lincoln. Bugs Bunny. Galileo. Batman. Cormac McCarthy. Jimi Hendrix. Marco Polo. Anderson Silva. Steven Spielberg. Mother Theresa. J.R.R. Tolkien.
Pick a discipline and you will find the person whom many feel has bested all other competition.
This issue is has so permeated the DNA of humanity that even Jesus can’t resist entering the debate. But he is not concerned with the greatest actor, or chariot driver, or whatever discipline people followed 2000 years ago. These are not worth his time apparently.
Jesus is concerned with THE question, the only one that matters in the debate:
Who is the greatest person of all time?
For many people, the answer to this question is simple: the founder of whichever religion we follow. Buddha. Mohammad. Joseph Smith. Abraham. Jesus.
Christians would obviously say Jesus, but setting him aside for a moment, who would we then pick? Abraham? Moses? David? Paul?
A case could be made for so many in Scripture. But Jesus has one person in mind:
John the Baptist.
He says in Matthew 11:11:
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.
For Jesus, his elder cousin John was the greatest person who ever lived. He was the most righteous and pure hearted, self-sacrificial, compassionate and faithful person ever. According to Jesus, John is the man.
But he’s not good enough.
The least and lowest member of God’s kingdom is greater that this. No matter how much good John did, he could never be perfect or sinless or without blame. He was born of woman, he was a sinful man like everyone else, and unworthy of even the lowest spot in God’s kingdom.
This is because John’s righteousness was not enough to secure his salvation. That’s what Jesus means. John on his own is not worthy enough to enter God’s kingdom. He, like all of us, need Jesus.
He is the greatest over all creation, yet he laid that aside to ensure that we could become like the least in the kingdom of God, where everyone shares equally in the glorious presence of a holy God.
So as G.O.A.T. debates rage on, remember that striving toward that greatness won’t get us the greatest prize. That prize is Christ and pursuing Him ensures that what we get is the greatest of all.