John 1:19-34 Be Great

I would argue that the majority of us want to be great, whether great academically, or great in a sport, or great in a profession, or a great husband or father or business owner, or whatever your thing is. I think it is safe to say that most of us want to be great. Now outside these four walls “greatness” is typically defined by how much money you make, or the car you drive, or the letters you have before your name. But I don’t think thats how the scriptures would define greatness. As a matter of fact, if that is greatness than Jesus himself and John the baptist especially would not be considered great.

In Matthew 11, Jesus says that the greatest man to ever be born of a women was John the Baptist. How can that be? He was a man of poor dress, no home, a horrible diet and yet, no man has even been greater.

In John 1, you see the key to this staggering statement as John the Baptist is confronted by the religious leaders of his day. They ask him; "who are you?" and his response is truly great to all biblical standards. I essence, he tells them, "I am nobody." He doesn't go through his resume of great successes or his accolades or his moral and spiritual achievements; he simply says "I'm nobody, simply a voice preparing the way for the Lord."

We all have a voice, but for John, its almost like he is saying that his message and his identity are one in the same. In other words, He's saying. My whole life shouts: prepare the way for the Lord!” Everything in his being screamed, "Follow Christ, Delight in Christ, Look to Christ." And….The bible calls that GREAT!!


In the end, John's greatness is defined by his pursuit of humility.
Many Christians and Many Pastors would tell you that pursuing greatness and influence in your world, is bad. But Jesus never forbids or criticizes our desires to be great. He simply redefines it.
  • Sinfully defined: Greatness is individuals motivated by self-interests, self indulgences, and a false sense of self sufficiency and self ambition for the purpose of self glorification.
  • Biblically defined: True greatness is when we humble ourselves and leverage our influence for the purpose of serving others and pointing people to the Glory of God.
I encourage us all to be great, pursue greatness. Be great worshippers, great spouses, great parents, great students, great staff members or business owners. Be great. But find that greatness by pursuing greatness by humbling yourself and pointing people to that which is Greatest!! Jesus Christ.

Lastly, we need to answer the question "How?" How does one pursue greatness? how does one pursue humility? How do I practically apply this?

The answer is found in cross. John Stott says it the best…...

“Every time we look at the cross, Christ seems to be saying to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.” – John Stott (as quoted in Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney, p. 67)

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