32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
1. Gabriel tells Mary that her Son will be great.
2. He will be called "Son of the Highest".
3. The Lord God shall give to Him the throne of David.
4. David is His father.
5. He shall reign upon the house of Jacob forever.
6. There shall be no end of His kingdom.
1. The phrase "he shall be great" is written by Luke in 1:15 (John), in 1:32 (Jesus), and in 9:48 (the least among you).
a. Greatness means "significantly beyond the norm".
b. Greatness can only be signified if there exists a standard of measure and it can only be recognized if that standard of measure is known.
1) It is not possible to even speak of "greatness" without some measure of comparison to the norm.
2) When speaking of 'the norm', there must be a clear identification of what is being considered as 'normal'.
a) If a voice is 'great', it is loud in sound beyond most vocal utterances.
b) If a mountain is 'great', it is either taller or more massive than most mountains.
c) If an experience of joy is 'great', it is an experience that, by definition, goes beyond the experience of joy that most folks have as an on-going experience.
3) The 'greatness' of John, Jesus, and 'the least among you' must, therefore, signify that there are relative degrees of 'great' and that there is a specific measure that is being applied.
a) In John's case, 'greatness' is followed by several explanatory phrases...
i. It is measured by the "sight of the Lord".
ii. He shall drink no wine nor strong drink.
iii. He shall be filled with the Spirit all of his lifetime.
iv. He shall turn many to the Lord their God.
v. He shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare people for His coming in the spirit and power of Elijah.
b) In Jesus' case, 'greatness' is also followed by several explanatory phrases...
i. He shall be called Son of the Most High (God).
ii. The Lord God will give Him the throne of David, His father.
iii. He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.
iv. His kingdom will never end.
c) In the case of 'the least among you', the phrase is applied in this context...
i. Jesus has announced His coming death and the disciples do not have even a foggy idea of what He is saying.
ii. The disciples are arguing among themselves about which of them is the 'greatest'.
iii. After Jesus' statement about 'greatness' John announces that 'they' have tried to stop a man from casting out demons in Jesus' name because that man was not 'one of us'.
iv. Jesus' statement about greatness has two features that stand out... First, He identifies an 'action' that leads to greatness -- receiving a child. Second, the action that He identifies has nothing to do with the appearance to men of something particularly 'great' ; rather, it has only to do with seeking to be a need-meeter for someone whose needs are significant and cannot be met by that one himself.
d) Clearly, the conclusions that we must draw are these...
i. Greatness is measured by God not in the way it is measured by men.
ii. For men, greatness has to do with the exercise of power over another; for God, greatness has to do with the exercise of power for another. Interestingly, the disciples, who cast out demons with the result that the possessed was extended the tremendous relief of freedom (the exercise of power for another) were not as concerned by the difficulty of the possessed as they were with their ability to command demons (the exercise of power over another). [This very phenomenon has been recreated in our generation by 'evangelism' where people 'witness' because they are "commanded" to do so and where converts are a testament to the power of the evangelist instead of witness that has the need of the lost front and center and 'success' doesn't mean anything about the power of the evangelist but means rejoicing because the great need has been met!]
c. The greatness of Jesus must, therefore, be understood in terms of His work as the ruler of Jacob on the throne of David without the corruption of man's thinking that His work is an exercise of power over His subjects rather than an exercise of power for the sake of His subjects.
1) The issue involves power over others -- because all power that is exercised has to do with introducing changes to things that have been put in place by the decisions and actions of others.
2) The exercise of power to change things has some significant implications, not the least of which is that if nothing needed to be changed, what would be the point of exercising power and, if things need to be changed, what does that mean about the status quo?
a) The very act of creation introduces a very fundamental reality: the created must be sustained if the act is to have any endurance.
i. Creatures never become self-existent.
ii. Creatures never possess autonomy of existence within themselves.
iii. Thermodynamic's Second Law (degeneration) is an inevitable aspect of creation in alienation.
iv. But, even creation in union, apparently, requires a continuing infusion of "something" for the creature from the Creator in order for the creature to endure without disintegration.
b) The biblical statements about an on-going Kingdom for creation, therefore, are statements which require a continual infusion process from Creator to creation.
i. This "flow" from Creator to creature is, apparently, pretty much what we could call 'automatic' when alienation is not a factor.
ii. But, automatic, or deliberately 'decision-guided' on a case by case basis, the "flow" is not necessarily immediate as opposed to mediate -- i.e., God can, apparently, do things mediately or immediately, and the Kingdom is a "mediated" process which allows for creatures to not only have the necessary "infusion" by God and/or His mediators, but to also have a part in the mediated aspects of the process. In other words, to "reign with Christ" means that there are a host of mediated processes that are required by the nature of creation and there will be a host of mediators who will carry those processes forward. This would be true even for a "static state" creation where "going forward" is not an issue because the destination has already been reached. It is even more true if the creation has an eternally developing process ahead of it so that the destination is forever "already, but not-yet" [one can 'already' possess eternal life, but 'not-yet' have experienced the reality in a myriad of its specific details and experiences].