He shall be great - Behold the greatness of the man Christ Jesus:
2dly. In consequence of this, that human nature should be called in a peculiar sense the Son of the most high God; because God would produce it in her womb without the intervention of man.
3rdly. He shall be the everlasting Head and Sovereign of his Church.
Revolutions may destroy the kingdoms of the earth, but the powers and gates of hell and death shall never be able to destroy or injure the kingdom of Christ. His is the only dominion that shall never have an end. The angel seems here to refer to Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 16:5; Jeremiah 23:5; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14. All which prophecies speak of the glory, extent, and perpetuity of the evangelical kingdom. The kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory form the endless government of Christ.
He shall be great - There is undoubted reference in this passage to Isaiah 9:6-7. By his being “great” is meant he shall be distinguished or illustrious; great in power, in wisdom, in dominion on earth and in heaven.
Shall be called - This is the same as to say he “shall be” the Son, etc. The Hebrews often used this form of speech. See Matthew 21:13.
The Highest - God, who is infinitely exalted; called the Highest, because He is exalted over all his creatures on earth and in heaven. See Mark 5:7.
The throne - The kingdom; or shall appoint him as the lineal successor of David in the kingdom.
His father David - David is called his father because Jesus was lineally descended from him. See Matthew 1:1. The promise to David was, that there should “not fail” a man to sit on his throne, or that his throne should be perpetual 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 8:25; 1 Kings 9:5; 2 Chronicles 6:16, and the promise was fulfilled by exalting Jesus to be a Prince and a Saviour, and the perpetual King of his people.
But he was greeted with the joyful assurance: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.... And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.” DA 98.1
Zacharias well knew how to Abraham in his old age a child was given because he believed Him faithful who had promised. But for a moment the aged priest turns his thought to the weakness of humanity. He forgets that what God has promised, He is able to perform. What a contrast between this unbelief and the sweet, childlike faith of Mary, the maiden of Nazareth, whose answer to the angel's wonderful announcement was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”! Luke 1:38. DA 98.2
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. DA 98.3
To the question of Zacharias, the angel said, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.” Five hundred years before, Gabriel had made known to Daniel the prophetic period which was to extend to the coming of Christ. The knowledge that the end of this period was near had moved Zacharias to pray for the Messiah's advent. Now the very messenger through whom the prophecy was given had come to announce its fulfillment. DA 98.4Read in context »
From the day when she heard the angel's announcement in the home at Nazareth Mary had treasured every evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. His sweet, unselfish life assured her that He could be no other than the Sent of God. Yet there came to her also doubts and disappointments, and she had longed for the time when His glory should be revealed. Death had separated her from Joseph, who had shared her knowledge of the mystery of the birth of Jesus. Now there was no one to whom she could confide her hopes and fears. The past two months had been very sorrowful. She had been parted from Jesus, in whose sympathy she found comfort; she pondered upon the words of Simeon, “A sword shall pierce through thy own soul also” (Luke 2:35); she recalled the three days of agony when she thought Jesus lost to her forever; and with an anxious heart she awaited His return. DA 145.1
At the marriage feast she meets Him, the same tender, dutiful son. Yet He is not the same. His countenance is changed. It bears the traces of His conflict in the wilderness, and a new expression of dignity and power gives evidence of His heavenly mission. With Him is a group of young men, whose eyes follow Him with reverence, and who call Him Master. These companions recount to Mary what they have seen and heard at the baptism and elsewhere. They conclude by declaring, “We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write.” John 1:45. DA 145.2
As the guests assemble, many seem to be preoccupied with some topic of absorbing interest. A suppressed excitement pervades the company. Little groups converse together in eager but quiet tones, and wondering glances are turned upon the Son of Mary. As Mary had heard the disciples’ testimony in regard to Jesus, she had been gladdened with the assurance that her long-cherished hopes were not in vain. Yet she would have been more than human if there had not mingled with this holy joy a trace of the fond mother's natural pride. As she saw the many glances bent upon Jesus, she longed to have Him prove to the company that He was really the Honored of God. She hoped there might be opportunity for Him to work a miracle before them. DA 145.3Read in context »
Christ and the Law
[This article appeared in The Signs of the Times, August 2, 1905.]Read in context »