“He will be great” (Luke 1:32).
That’s what the angel said to Mary about Jesus before he was born. And in every respect it turned out to be true. His greatness was not like that of the Roman or Greek conception; his was the greatness of a servant.
Have we ever really stopped to consider that?
Think about it this way: Jesus came to be baptized by John in the Jordan river in A.D. 28 when he was about 33 or 34 years old. It was here the heavens were opened, the Spirit of God descended like a dove, and the voice of God was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17).
Notice, as of that moment in time Jesus had not yet healed a single person, he had not raised the dead, he had not made the deaf to hear, he had not said and done unprecedented things all throughout the region of Galilee and beyond. For all we know, all Jesus had done from his youth until that time was live and work as a carpenter in Nazareth, attend the synagogue each week and Jewish festivals each year, and just be human.
And with that normal life, His Father was well pleased.
The greatness of Jesus was not just all the miracles we read about or the unparalleled teachings or anything at all spectacular that He did. His greatness was primarily found in those thirty-three silent years, where he simply lived a normal human life in fellowship with His Father… deity and humanity co-habiting as one.
This is the kind of life which causes God to smile: a normal human life lived in fellowship with the Divine. So you and I may relieve ourselves this very moment of the pressure to be something “great” according to this world or religion’s standards. God just wants normal people doing normal things in oneness with Himself. That’s the goal of the gospel. That’s the heart of it all. That is what God has brought and is bringing us to “in Christ.”
And yes, in some small way, knowing the dates and times and places and the history behind the New Testament has helped me see this wonderful truth. 🙂