Meditating on Luke chapter one this morning. Preparing my heart for the holy season ahead. One phrase stood out so very clearly: He will be great.
The angel Gabriel is referring to Jesus, of course. He’s informing young Mary of this amazing assignment God intends for her. A son. A child of the Most High. Jesus. He will be great.
Some of Mary’s thoughts and questions are recorded in Luke one. I’m sure there must have been more . . . so many more. When I pause to imagine myself in her place, I wonder how I would have reacted to the angel’s grand pronouncement.
The Messiah finally coming. The Father fulfilling His long-awaited promise in my life-time. Victory over Rome. If I had been Mary listening to that angel I think I may have secretly mused, “This is great!”
But that’s not what Gabriel said. He said, “He will be great.“
So much reading between the lines, trying to interpret God-thoughts with my finite mind. Reading His Word. Remembering His promises and yet so often it doesn’t play out like I expect.
The birth of Christ would not usher in a political kingdom of God. Rome would still dominate. The Savior would suffer, even die. So much Mary would not have understood as she received the message of the coming babe that day.
Not everything about her adventure could be described as great. Only Jesus. He is the One. He will be great . . . and He was . . . and He still is.
Mary probably didn’t think this way. Most likely that’s why the Father chose her and not me to be the mother of His Son. But, if I had been Mary that day, I’m pretty sure I would have toyed with the tempting thought that I will be great.
Out of all the women in the world. Out of all the women ever born. God chose me! He sent Gabriel straight from heaven to give me this message. I must be great. Everyone will know my name. Everyone will admire me, even envy me. The mother of the Messiah – I will be great!
I know that’s bad. I’m just being honest. It would have entered my mind. That corrupt perspective would have been mine. Just saying. Oh what an enemy pride continues to daily be. In so many little, selfish ways preferring me. Thinking of myself first, most, best.
But the angel said, “He will be great.”
And He was. And He still is. He is the great One. He must increase. I must decrease.
Possibly Mary, in that glorious, angelic moment, unassumingly believed that because of Gabriel’s announcement life will be great.
We do that, don’t we? At least I do. I refer to it as my Normal Rockwell syndrome. I step through new doors envisioning Jesus and me in happy harmony with all circumstances. I subconsciously paint a rosy picture of expectations that are not only unrealistic; they are completely unbiblical.
Could Mary have foreseen the manger? Could she have anticipated the division in her own home while some of her other children chose for a while not to believe that Jesus was anything special? Did she imagine His persecution – the lies they told about Him; the mock, midnight trials? The fleeing disciples? The garden agony? The cross? The tomb?
I have to remind myself often that Jesus spoke of the trouble we are sure to have in this world so that I’m not blindsided or demoralized by it when it comes. I cling to His encouragement to, “Take heart,” because He has overcome the world.
Life won’t always be great, even when we’re walking with the Lord.
But, “He will be great.” Gabriel got it right. And He was . . . and He is . . . and He forever will be!