What Sinners Must Understand

If there be any sinner in the world today, who would be saved, there is one chief thing they must understand.

Bear with me as I explain.

Matthew 11:11,

11. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…

Luke 7:28,

28. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist…

Note the parallel passages from the Synoptic Gospels. This is a direct quotation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In both instances, the Son of God tells us that John the Baptist was the greatest prophet to ever live. This means greater than Moses, than Elijah, than King David, than Isaiah, and etc. all the way down the list.

(Note, too, the ellipses at the end of each verse. I have done that for a reason. We will be coming back to these verses and the parts of them I’ve temporarily left off mentioning.)

Matthew 3:11,

11. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Mark 1:6-8,

6. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7. And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Luke 3:16,

16. John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John 1:26-27,

26. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;
27. He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

Now notice that from all four Gospels we have a set of different parallel verses. Here, John testifies of himself and says that, regarding Christ, he is not worthy to unloose the Master’s sandals/shoes, let alone even carry them.

So then, if the greatest prophet who ever lived isn’t even worthy enough to carry the Lord’s shoes or sandals (the Greek word can mean either or both), then what the sinner who would be saved needs to understand is that, since John far surpasses them in quality of character and morals, they have absolutely no right or worth to dare speak a word to the Messiah.

You say “What?!”

Slow down and let me explain. If a sinner is to reach out to the Lord for saving grace and mercy, they must do so with the understanding of their own unworthiness. They must come before Jesus utterly hopeless without Him, knowing they have no personal merit whatsoever, upon which they can even raise their voice to the King of Kings.

Isaiah 6:1-7,

1. In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
6. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7. And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Remember, the Lord is high and lifted up, sitting upon a majestic, immaculate throne of glory. No one has the right, within themselves, to approach such an August, Immense, Personage of Royalty. Isaiah realized this and pronounced a curse upon himself (i.e. woe is me, for I am undone), because he realized that to be in such a PRESENCE, as a sinner, meant he would be immediately destroyed (the Hebrew for undone is damah and means to fail or perish).

This concept is present in the teachings of the Lord Jesus, as well.

Luke 18:13-14,

13. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The sinner above distances himself from the Pharisee (see v. 12), knowing that he didn’t have the right to come near to or unintentionally associate himself with a class of people considered by all to be more holy and righteous than himself. Instead, he separated himself, to be by himself, and in his loneliness, uttered the only type of sinner’s prayer God will hear.

It’s this kind and level of humility any sinner who would be saved must have and demonstrate before the Lord if they hope for Jesus to save them. Too many sinners, interested in being saved, don’t display the proper reverence for Christ, nor the proper debasement of self needed to ever be granted repentance. They are casual, perhaps ignorant, or even indifferent to the position of Christ, relative to themselves.

Friend, there must be brokenness. The spiritual condition of the sinner and the wages of their sin, received at the end of life, must cause the seeker to fall down (in heart, if not in body) to find themselves in a place of despair, where they know that, unless Jesus saves them, they are totally and irrevocably lost! Short of that, nothing will do.

Now, back to those ellipses.

Matthew 11:11,

11. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…

Luke 7:28,

28. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist…

This is how I left the verses above. Let’s complete them.

Matthew 11:11,

11. … notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Luke 7:28,

28. … but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

Do you see it? Do you see how, though John is the greatest prophet to have ever lived, any and all of us who’ve been born again into the Kingdom of God are by default, greater than John?

Why is that?

It’s because unlike John, who died before Pentecost (Acts 2), all we who’ve received remission of sins and the baptism of the Holy Spirit of Christ, are part of the New Covenant, made heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Through the adoption of the Spirit (something John never received) we get to be made into the Sons and Daughters of God, which, as Jesus taught, means we can be, in God’s eyes, equal to, but never surpassing, the Lord Himself (Luke 6:40). Verily, we sit with Christ in heavenly places, in the very throne of His Father (Ephesians 2:6 and Revelation 3:21).

John never experienced this. That’s why, though he was great, we saints who partake of the Kingdom are greater. That’s why though he was unworthy to unloose/bear the shoes/sandals of the Messiah, we can personally, without reservation or shame, address the Lord in prayer, supplication, worship, and etc. Through the blood and Spirit of the Lamb, we sinners, who formerly were not, have now been made and are considered by God, to be worthy.

1 John 3:1,

1. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.


~ by votivesoul on 05/08/2013.

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Always seeking to know God more

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

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