The Greater Reward


Lose 15 pounds fast! Ask me how! How many times have we seen ads like this that grab our attention and then promise us the moon? We wonder if they are for real or if the celebrity hawking them is trustworthy. In Judea, John the Baptist was a bit of a local celebrity with a strong message from God, but his claims met resistance with the religious leaders. As the kingdom of God was talked about, a dividing line was drawn amongst the crowd. Who was trustworthy and what message were the people to believe?

  • How do you discern between competing ideologies?


24 When John’s messengers had gone, 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? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

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

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What kind of man did the crowds of Judea go out to hear (vss. 24-25)? 
  2. How did Jesus advocate for John? How did he describe him (vss. 26-28)?
  3. Why are those in the kingdom of God greater than John?
  4. What two divisions arose in response to Jesus’ kingdom talk in verse 29? How did Jesus caricature those who rejected him and John?
  5. Are there areas of your life in which you are rejecting the purposes of God? Though difficult, what would it look like to identify and align yourself with Jesus and the gospel instead?


Jesus affirmed John as a prophet, a man of conviction with a strong message. But, significant as his role was, those least in the kingdom of God would be greater than he. They were greater because God’s law would be written on their hearts (Hebrews 10:16-17). The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected this purpose of God, preferring to keep the Law outwardly. The crowds who listened had a choice; we, too, have a choice. The gospel is life to those who are perishing,and it is the power that continues to transform us as believers. It may lead us down the path of costly surrender. But, oh, let us choose the greater reward!

  • Pray that you would have strength to choose the greater reward of the gospel daily.