Sally (not her true name) spent the summer after her sophomore year in college working in the same molecular biology laboratory where I was doing research with another classmate. She had no research position so she accepted the position of a laboratory assistant, washing the glassware for our lab and others. She was a year younger than I was and had never met her prior to that summer. Aside from the usual pleasantries, we did not regularly converse.
One day, our professor called myself and my classmate into his office. “Guys, it has come to my attention that Sally is interested in molecular biology. I want you to give her some small projects…help her out.”
My classmate and I obliged and oversaw the smaller projects that were assigned to her while we completed our project for that summer. Sally impressively completed her tasks with minimal assistance from myself or my classmate, a feat that was more remarkable since she had never taken a laboratory course in molecular biology. After I left the laboratory, I occasionally saw Sally on campus but never interacted with her again. Several decades later, this quiet student ascended to the heights of world wide acclaim, winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, recognizing her groundbreaking work in biochemistry. It is humbling to know that I was her senior, overseeing her work before she even began her career. I was in the presence of greatness and I did not realize it.
I wonder if the people who met our Lord Jesus Christ recognized His greatness when He was much younger, before He began His ministry? The only clue we are given is from the Gospel of Luke. Every year, Jesus’ earthly parents made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover. When He was twelve years old, their family made their pilgrimage, celebrated the Passover, and proceeded to return home. However, they did not realize that He was not with them and quickly returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. Dr. Luke records this memorable event.
Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Luke 2:46-47 (NLT)
The Bible does not reveal what conversations transpired between the religious leaders and Jesus but does give us the clue that the leaders were amazed at His understanding and answers. Somehow I am not surprised. Like my classmate, there were already flashes of brilliance. I wonder how many of them remembered Jesus when He began His ministry nearly twenty years later? I wonder if any could have predicted the impact He would have on the entire world?
Every day we find ourselves in the presence of greatness because every person is a gift from God. God gives everyone the potential to accomplish great things. Our accomplishments may not lead to winning a Nobel prize but God recognizes and honors all types of greatness. He sees a mother at the bedside of her daughter, comforting her as she battles a deadly cancer. He sees a firefighter rushing into a burning house that is about collapse to rescue the trapped family. And He saw the faithfulness of His Son, Jesus Christ, who allowed Himself to be falsely convicted and executed on the Cross for our sins.
God created us for greatness to serve Him.
Let’s celebrate this greatness in everyone we meet.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.