When I was young, there were many heroes to look up to. One of them was the American boxer, Muhammad Ali, who raised his gloved hands in victory and declared, “I am The Greatest!” As a child, I wondered what made him great. Was he a great athlete, a great dad, a great citizen, an all-around nice guy? What did being “the greatest” mean? How can anyone really claim to be “The Greatest”?
I believe that the greatest man who ever lived was the Lord Jesus Christ, as described by the writer to the Hebrews:
“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:14-18 NASB1995)
Jesus is not great because He was a published author, an acclaimed artist, an ingenious inventor, a general of a victorious army, or a politician elected to a parliament. Jesus is the greatest human being because of Who He is: the Son of God Who became the Son of Man in order to be truly human and fulfill God’s plan for our redemption. He did this without sin, and by living an actual human life, He showed us what people are supposed to be like. He is what God designed us all to be from the very beginning, and what those of us who trust in Him will be when we enter eternity and become like Him, as God intended for us.
Jesus is the greatest because He lived a perfect life, without sin, in order to be the perfect sacrifice, to save those who could never be made perfect in any other way. By His death for us, He rendered the enemy powerless, and by His resurrection, He freed us from death and the fear of it that enslaves us.
There were many great characters in the Bible, but they did not always live exemplary lives. In His grace, God worked wonders through them, but not because they were great people. In His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus showed us that great things can be accomplished in our lives through His power, even though we may not be great people.
We, His people, can’t hope to be perfect or to be the greatest in this life, but we can dream ahead to the day when we see His shining face in our new bodies and know that we will be like Him when God’s mighty plan is completed. When voices around us claim greatness, let us look in faith to the One Who is the greatest, Who was resurrected and freed us from the fear of death, and Who calls us to faith in Him.
Prayer: Sing with me (and Fanny Crosby): “To God be the glory, great things He has done. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life-gate that all may go in.” Amen.
Copyright © 2021, by Shirley Moulton <[email protected]>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada