He Shall be Called Great!
And if I ask who has made the greatest contribution to religion, the answers will be equally varied.
Because it's me asking the question my guess is that you will think I am hoping that you'll say: "Jesus!"
But not everyone will—at least not at first.
Gabriel, God's messenger angel, appeared to Mary. He announced to her the coming of the Christ child. He told her: "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end" (Luke 1:31-33).
This is greatness. But Gabriel only told Mary the end of the story, the final chapter. He did not tell her that the path to greatness for her child, for God's Son, would be paved with sacrifice. Did that first whisper of "bastard child" at the well in Nazareth become her first clue? By the time she returned from attending Elizabeth, her pregnancy may have been getting obvious. Did a dirty cave and a manger in which to lay her newborn surprise her? Simeon's words, "...a sword will pierce your own soul..." (Luke 2:35) may have caused a shiver down her spine. Did having to run away to Egypt to escape the coils of that snake, Herod, give her pause for thought?
This is the One who is great, the Son of the Most High, the heir to the throne of David, and the King of an eternal kingdom?
By the time Mary got to the foot of cross, her faith may have been sorely tested. The angel said one thing, but the path her Son took had apparently led in a completely different direction. It would only be later, in the upper room after the resurrection, that she would understand that greatness sometimes takes us down unexpected paths.
Poet Robert Frost wrote about having to make a decision at a place when two paths diverged. He ended the poem this way:, "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
I have no idea what happened in heaven before the beginning of time as the Father and Son considered how they would deal with the sin problem, how they would restore the relationship between God and man that humankind would smash so willfully beneath their feet. But Christ's greatness, His reign, His Kingdom was established long before Bethlehem. It would continue long after Calvary. The path He chose, the detour that would take Him from heaven through Bethlehem to Golgotha before His return home, was a path of greatness even though it was an odd one from a human standpoint.
Philippians 2:5-11 reminds us: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
To us who believe, the path that Jesus took was one, "...that has made all the difference." An eternal difference. It was a path, though it would seem to portray the opposite, that was a sign of His greatness. It is our example to follow.