In Nazareth, Mary was told that the child to be born to her would be a great person. He would have a great birth — the highest of all stooping to such a humble entry into the world.
He would be great in his life, wholly free from selfishness, lust and greed. He would be great as a teacher. He would preach the Sermon on the Mount — Shakespeare never wrote anything as magnificent as that discourse!
He would be great in the wonders that he did, displaying his power over evil, over creation, over disease and over death. He would be great in his dying, praying for forgiveness for those who had driven nails through his hands and feet.
He would be great in his majestic resurrection, when on the third day he would rise from the dead, having defeated the power of the grave.
What a great triumph! He would be great in his exaltation to the throne of God, preserving his church through troubled times, answering the prayers of his dependant people, conquering sinners by the story of his love.
He will also be great when he returns the second time, to raise his people from the dead, and bring them into the new world. He will be great when he renews the sin-cursed universe before the wondering eyes of the redeemed, and brings them into their eternal inheritance.
He will be great in the songs of the redeemed, as they know more and more of the fulness of God and as they experience in their hearts the increasing depths of his love, joy and peace.
A mighty Saviour
And Jesus Christ won’t only be great in those general ways in the world-to-come, but he will be great day by day in the lives of all of us who are his people. As we face the most painful providences and are uncertain about the future, we must say to ourselves, ‘He will do great things for me and I shall be glad. He is able to bring good out of this trouble’.
As we look at situations about which we have prayed so often, we can remind ourselves that Jesus is great in wisdom and power and knows best when to answer our prayers. When we are concerned about the church and its prospects, we recall that the great helmsman of the church is a mighty Saviour.
When we come to die, we can remind ourselves that he will be great in our resurrection and comfort ourselves with the certainty of that event. Until then, he will provide for us in heaven.
Many think sport and making money and relationships are the greatest things in life, and they remain unconverted. They need to remember that Jesus will also be great on the Day of Judgement.
His great power will be seen in the perfect justice with which he judges the world and in the condemnation he hands out to those who refused to repent of their sins. He has created; he can also destroy. Christ is great — and yet unrepentant men and women will go to hell.
A very great offer
Here is a very great Saviour with a very great offer: ‘Come to me and I will give you rest’.
He can cope, however many come to him: every teenager with his despair; every man with his hang-ups; every woman with her troubles. ‘Come to me,’ says the Great One, ‘and I will give you rest’.
Jesus Christ can show his greatness in your salvation. In the name of the great Son of the great God, I urge you to come to him today!
Geoff Thomas has been pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth, for 50 years. He is a trustee of the Banner of Truth Trust and Visiting Professor of Historical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, USA.