After John’s disciples have left, Jesus talked more about John. He seems to like the fellow.
What John is Not
John is not a weak person, driven by public opinion. He is who he is. Neither is he a celebrity, famous for being famous, decked out in fine clothing. He is who he is.
John is a Prophet
John is the last in a long line of OT prophets. He gives out the message of God for no other reason but to please God and to serve God.
John is More than a Prophet
John is the messenger from Malachi 3 who prepares the way before God. He goes ahead. He’s the advance man. That can be a lonely position. No wonder John had questions.
John is Pivotal
John is at the junction of the old way and the new way. He is the harbinger of the Kingdom. He has a foot in both worlds.
Jesus says that the least in the Kingdom is greater than John. I don’t think that means that John is not in the Kingdom. Rather, it means that John will not get the opportunity to participate in the ministry of Jesus, because he is about to meet a violent death, just as Jesus will do the same.
There is a history of trying to force the God’s plan by way of violence. The Maccabees did it with the Hellenistic Syrians, and a variety of would-be messiahs tried to rally troops to throw off the Romans.
Jesus has a better way. The Way.
John is Elijah
Again from Malachi, Jesus says that John is the return of Elijah. The Kingdom has an eschatological component that people may not have expected. They need special ears to hear the message.