Why is John such a big deal? Because Jesus is such a big deal.
If Jesus were only a man the hubris here would be unforgivable. Imagine that you introduce me next time I preach. I then begin my message by saying “Among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than you, for you have introduced me.” No man who says such a thing deserves our admiration. We all have a god complex. We all idolize and worship self, but the person who says such a thing wants everyone to recognize him as god.
With anyone else this is Usain Bolt like egomania, but with Jesus this is legit and loving. If you really see Jesus, you beg for him not to point you to others “greatness”, not even to your own, but to direct your attention only to Him. You don’t care for Jesus to boost your ego. You want Him to lead you away from the shallows of self to the depths of divinity.
Why is John so great? Not because of his person, but because of his office; not because of his character, but because of his function.
How are we greater than John? Not because of our person, but because of our proximity to Jesus. John was greater not because he performed more signs than the prophets before him (John 10:41), nor because he preached a different message. He was greater because of his proximity to Jesus. We have seen Jesus with greater clarity than John. We have experienced the kingdom to a degree that John never did. We are able to point more clearly to Jesus and with greater understanding say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
So often Christians want to establish their “greatness” with reference to their work, their giving, their intelligence, their preaching, their gifts, their courage, their discernment. But Jesus unhesitatingly affirmed that even the least believer is greater than Moses or John the Baptist, simply because of his or her ability, living on this side of the coming of Jesus the Messiah, to point him out with greater clarity and understanding than all his forerunners ever could. If we really believe this truth, it will dissipate all cheap vying for position and force us to recognize that our true significance lies in our witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. – D.A. Carson