Wouldn’t you agree that the word “great” is greatly overused and abused in the English vocabulary?
What would a sportscaster do without the word? No longer could he say:
“What a great play… great catch… great throw… great stop.” Or the talk show host. No longer could he introduce “a great actress” or plug “a great book” or listen to “a great song” or watch “a great performance.”
You get the point. The word “great” isn’t so great anymore. Too bad. It used to be a noble word. It meant distinguished, preeminent, elevated, remarkable, of large scale and stature. The Greek word Luke uses to describe the angel Gabriel’s word to address Mary, is megas, from which we get megaton, megalopolis, megabucks. Basically the Greek word means the ultimate of whatever it is you’re talking about.
When the angel Gabriel made his startling announcement to Mary, he was talking about a person. “He will be great.” Mary was not only to become great with child, she was to become great with a great child. Very few people in the world would deny the greatness of Jesus of Nazareth.
He was a great teacher. He had a mastery of simple parables to convey profound spiritual truth, and a phenomenal insight into the longings, fears, hopes and needs of others. He was a great healer and miracle worker. He was a great prophet, with the seer’s insight into the times and course of events. He was a great lover of people, always with time for the individual and a special place in His heart for society’s outcasts.
Wherein lies the greatness of a man? By accident or fortune of history some men rise to positions of importance, but they are not great men. Great men are men of simplicity and humility. They have the ability to see through the complex maze of life to the basic realities, and they live before those realities with great reverence and humility. Jesus was such a man.
But there is more to be said about Jesus’ greatness. It was the greatness of God incarnate. He interpreted His own life on earth as an act of God.
In Jesus we see the greatness of a Savior. It seems that the parents of the Bethlehem Babe had no choice about their Son’s name. As His destiny was fixed, so must His name be fixed to suit it: “You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Have you in your life met this true greatness? If you haven’t, make the acquaintance. Meet Immanuel—God with us. And you’ll never be the same again.
Philip D. Needham, The War Cry