If Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest born of women, why do we focus on Mary?


#1

Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! - Matthew 11:11

I understand that Mary is the New Eve and the Ark of the New Covenant, and that the Annunciation of Mary the word kecharitomene being a perfect passive participle (pretty much meaning “having been”), but why does Jesus say John the Baptist is the greatest of those born? Is this Him contradicting His Scriptures?


#2

What Scriptures would Jesus be contradicting there?

We focus on Mary because of Who Christ is. She gave birth to God, by God’s choosing.


#3

:popcorn:


#4

Jesus doesn’t always deal with always and nevers. What exactly did Jesus mean by great? He could be called the greatest prophet, which he could have meant. Mary was also called ‘full of grace’. I don’t believe John The Baptist was called that.


#5

I have always understood it to refer to prophecy. John is the greatest of prophets because to him belongs the singular honour of directly preparing the way for the divine bridegroom. What Moses and Elijah could only see in vision John saw in the flesh. Both Mary and John derive their greatness entirely from their relationship to Jesus. Objectively speaking the one who’s relationship, both spiritual and physical, is closest must be the greatest. And who can doubt that that position is preeminently occupied by our Lady?


#6

No, it’s not “Him contradicting Scripture,” but it is you selectively quoting Scripture! :wink:

Let’s look at the whole sentence, please: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Jesus is making a distinction between those who, while living on earth, will have seen the Kingdom of Heaven established, and those who did not live to see it established. Among those who did not, John is greatest; among those who did, all are greater than he. A couple of things are important to note, here:

[list]*]The notion of ‘greatness’ here doesn’t denote any personal quality of an individual, per se; rather, it seems to indicate a greatness in what a person has experienced – anyone who experienced the ‘kingdom of heaven’ is “greater” than the Baptist.
*]John died prior to the inauguration of the KoH; Mary died after it. Therefore, Mary is “greater than he.”
*]It does seem that Jesus is talking about John as a prophet, so it’s probably not unreasonable to suggest, also, that status as a prophet is meant here: John is the greatest of all the prophets, but even the greatest of the prophets is not greater than those who lived to see the messianic prophecy fulfilled.
[/list]


#7

oops! This doesn’t really quote what Jesus said
Jesus said, “among those born of women there is no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mt 11:11; Lk 7:28).
I see the preceding poster also pointed this out, and I presume you made an honest mistake.

And so Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and Catholic saints could be greater than John of Baptist before God.

Jesus is not saying John the Baptism is the greatest of all man and women. Most probably Jesus was saying that he was greatest of all the Old Testament prophets, or even that he was the greatest of those who lived before the time of the reign of grace, the kingdom of God Christ brought.


#8

D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 11. He that is the lesser, &c. Many understand this of Christ, who is less in as much as he is more humble, younger in age, and according to the erroneous opinion of men, of less sanctity than John. Maldonatus and Tolletus suppose the meaning to be, that he who is the least in sanctity in the Church of Christ is greater than John; not that John did not excel in sanctity many, nay even most of the children of the Church of Christ, but that those who belong to the Church, on account of this circumstance of their being under the new law, which is the law of children, are greater than those under the old law, which was the law of bondsmen, as the least among the children is greater than the greatest among the bondsmen. Now John in this respect did not belong to the Church of Christ, as he was slain before Christ’s death, before which time the gospel was not fully established. (Menochius) — There hath not risen … a greater, &c. This comparison, by what we find, Luke vii. 28, is only betwixt John and the ancient prophets, to signify that John was greater than any of the prophets, at least by his office of being the immediate precursor of the Messias. The comparison cannot be extended to Christ himself, who was both God and man, nor to his blessed Virgin Mother; nor need we understand it of his apostles. (Witham)


#9

Then by this way of thinking, is John greater than Jesus?


#10

And her consent!, God Bless, Memaw


#11

First off, Jesus did NOT say that “John the Baptist was/is the greatest of those born” of women, He said, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist”.

In other words, He did NOT say that John the Baptist was the greatest but that none were greater than John the Baptist.

You brought up Mary, what about Jesus, He was "born of a woman, wasn’t He?

Our “focus” should be Jesus and as far as “focusing on Mary”, that should be because Mary should point us to Jesus, not that Mary should point us to Mary.


#12

Since today is my day for revealing crazy heresies –

Yup, there have been folks who have taken Jesus’ line about John the Baptist to mean that they should worship or venerate John the Baptist instead of Jesus. (Hence the Gospel of John carefully explaining that “There was a man called John,” but “he was not the Light.”) The Mandaeans, for example, are a Gnostic-ish group that believes Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were false prophets, but John the Baptist and others were true ones.

These folks were different from the ones who were part of John the Baptist’s followers but who just didn’t believe in Jesus, and who went off and did their own thing. We don’t really know what happened to them.


#13

This was my thought as well.


#14

He was speaking of prophets under the old law. No prophet has risen who was born of woman greater than John. Jesus does not count himself, because he says those that have risen “among them”.

Amen I say to you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist: yet he that is the lesser in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he
Mt11:11


#15

It seems that you’re asserting that, by using the word ‘them’ – that is, by pointing to others in a way that’s not inclusive – Jesus is excluding Himself from consideration. Sadly, that’s the kind of error that comes from relying solely on an target-language translation; we can read too much into a Scripture verse by grabbing hold of an implication that isn’t in the source language.

Mt 11:11 reads, “ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐκ ἐγήγερται ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν μείζων Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ· ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστι.” Literally, “Amen, I say to you, not among the Baptist.”

No “them”, not even a “those”. Just “among women-born.” If you want to center your exegesis on a word, it can’t be the word “them”. :wink:


#16

For that matter, Jesus did NOT say that John was the greatest, as some seem to read into it, but that none were greater, could be that Jesus is pointing out the equality of ALL of us in the “Eyes of God”.

I have said before and I repeat, I think/believe that two of the things that I was taught in second grade are among if not the most important things I have ever learned.

  1. “God Is Love” which I came to the realization of the literalness of this statement when I met Dad.

  2. “We are all equal in the Eyes of God”, not that we are the same but that we are equal, some seem to look down on God for looking at us in this way, of course God is the One Who created ALL of us so I would think that God can look at each one of us as God wants, not how others think God should look at us.

One of the things about realizing that God Is a Being of Love, as opposed to love being an attribute of God, is that this changes one’s perspective in looking and thinking about God.


#17

Good catch :slight_smile:


#18

Thanks! :thumbsup:


#19

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.