A bit of a disclaimer first. I am studying both Luke and Acts for the year 2024 and these weekly writings will be reflections on something that I am picking up in my studies of these two books of Scripture. It may be a ‘big picture’ thing that I focus on for one week and the next week maybe something that might seem to be relatively minor but for some reason it jumps out at me from the Biblical page. I will simply go and follow where the Biblical text takes me. And so this will be a journey for all of us together.
This is the first edition of a weekly devotional that I will be writing for our local church community. Pastor Matt and I had some conversations about this and we both agreed that this having a weekly devotional is something that would be beneficial to us all. And so here we are and so we begin.
For our initial devotional I want to focus on something I discovered in Luke 1:15…just part of a verse where the angel Gabriel is revealing to Zacharias, John The Baptist’s father what sort of boy he and his wife Elizabeth will be blessed with. Gabriel says regarding John…”For he will be great in the sight of The Lord.”
That is the question I want to ask and answer. What does it mean to be great in God’s eyes?
I think we all know what it means to be great in the eyes of the world. Fame and fortune, power and prestige. Likes on Facebook and 5 stars on Yelp. Being able to dominate and have your name in the news. Be famous for being famous (hello Kardashians!)
But John had none of this. No formal education. No fashion statements (camel’s hair and a leather belt didn’t cut it). No life-style diet that caught on (again, dried locusts dipped in honey doesn’t get you on the Food Network). He did not found a college. Any great movement he might have started ended when his followers found someone else (Jesus)
So if there was nothing that made him great in the eyes of the world, what made him great in God’s eyes? First it is important to know that the word translated as ‘great’ is in Greek megas. It is where we get the word ‘mega’. John was a mega-star to God. And what megas actually means is ‘approved’. To be great in God’s eyes is to b approved by Him. The approval ofv man is not as important as the approval of God.
And I think it is important for us to understand that no one is ever approved by God, or seen as great by God, who does not have their sin covered. Someone who is approved by God has been justified by God. They are made righteous. They are saved. They are covered by the righteousness of God.
John was also great because he is the first one to publicly identify Jesus as the Messiah. He was the one tasked with getting things ready for the public arrival of Jesus. Do you remember that? John 1:32-34 says, “And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “Upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with The Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.”
I want to close this devotional with the encouragement that we can be greater than John. How’s that? Greater than God’s ‘megastar’? Approved by God more than he? The first one who could point to and publicly identify the long-awaited Messiah?
Yes. In Matthew 11:11, Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you, “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John The Baptist. But he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.”
How are we greater? John’s greatest task was being able to point to Jesus and say, “That’s the Messiah. That’s the Savior”. We can do that every day. We have opportunities all day long to point to Jesus and tell others that He is the One who can forgive sins. Do you want to be great in the eyes of God? It’s simple. Point out Jesus to others and say “That’s the Messiah.”