Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on December 24, 2016
Open your Bibles to Luke 2:8-21. Tonight’s message is a part of a four sermon series that we have been going through at Cornerstone titled, “King of Kings.” For those who are joining us for the first time tonight, the purpose of this series is to help us understand the magnitude of what we are celebrating during the Christmas season.
The first sermon in this series was titled “Created for a King.” In this sermon we unpacked the reality that every human being was designed by God to be ruled by God. This is true, whether you believe it or not. The evidence of this truth is the moral code. Everyone that has ever existed has an understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Where does this come from? It comes from God. We have the decrees of our King, written upon our heart. Unfortunately, humanity has rejected their King. Instead of doing things God's way, we do things our way. This is called sin. And every person who has ever existed, including you and I, will stand before our Creator and will have to give an account for our rejection of God. If upon that Day of Judgment our account with God has not been settled, we will be cast into eternal damnation. And once again, this is true whether you believe it or not.
This all sounds dreadfully hopeless, and it would be, if we did not have such a loving and wonderful God. For from the moment that sin entered the world, hope also entered the world. And this hope took the shape of a coming King who would pay the debts for our transgression.
And this was the focus of the second sermon in the series, which was titled “The Shadow of the King.” From Genesis to Malachi, which is what we call the Old Testament, there is one singular theme, the coming of a King Jesus. Jesus says it himself, that the Old Testament testify about Him. This is why God created the nation of Israel, to write a story that revolves around the coming of his Beloved Son. Two weeks ago to show how God does this, we examined the mysterious figure of Melchizedek. He was the High Priest of God, and the King of Salem durign the time of Abraham. Melchizedek was a type of Christ, a symbol of Christ, a foreshadow of Christ cast by God to point forward to the true High Priest and the true and eternal King of Jerusalem. Melchizedek is one of dozens of people in the Old Testament that cast a foreshadow of the coming King, Jesus Christ. Adam, Noah, Abraham, the Judges, David, Solomon, the Prophets, all of them existed to point forward to the arrival of the true King. If you are not reading the Old Testament with this in mind, then you are missing the point.
It is Not About Tiny Trees
Tonight, we are going to focus our attention on the Birth of this King. This was no small event, as we will see in our text. So with this in mind, let us turn our attention to Luke 2:8-21.
You may not know this, but when this movie was released in 1965 the producer and the animator of the show confronted the creator, Charles Schulz, about taking out Linus’ quotation of Scripture. The stories goes that the animator said, “It’s very dangerous for us to start talking about religion now.” To that Charles Schulz responded, “Bill, if we don’t, who will?” What a great summary of the fundamental role of Christians. If we don't tell people about Jesus, and why he came, who will? The answer is no one. As David Platt says in his book Radical, the Church is Plan A, there is no Plan B.
Interestingly, last year for the 50th anniversary for Charlie Brown’s Christmas, ABC had a special and during that special President Barak Obama and his wife Michelle stated that these characters in A Charlie Brown Christmas “teach us that tiny trees just need a little love and that on this holiday we celebrate peace on Earth and good will toward all.”
Let us be clear about something tonight, Christmas has nothing to do with tiny trees. Christmas is about He who made the trees, taking on flesh and then hanging on a tree to bear the curse of our sins.
Unfortunately, the mentality of President Obama and his wife Michelle, are a dime a dozen in this world. Over this last month, my guess is that millions of people have focused on tiny trees, but have not once proclaimed the Gospel. This world is full of people who fail to recognize the eternal and universal and personal significance of what took place on this planet 2000 years ago in that little town of Bethlehem.
The Creating of the Characters
There is one group, however, that does understand the significance of the birth of the Christ, and they are found in our text tonight, Angels. As we strive to understand the magnitude of the Birth of Christ, I think it would be worthwhile to think about the perspective of an Angel. Because of who Angles are, and their vantage point in Heaven, they watch the history of the world unfold as if they are watching a play.
God begins this play that we call existnce by pulling back the curtain through creation. God says in Job 38:4-7 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” These sons of God where the angels.
Can you imagine what this would have looked like? God began by creating an angelic audience. Then as he started to speak things into existence, “let their be light”, the angels jumped out of their seats with excitement as light appeared. They were excited about what God was creating. They were excited about what God was displaying, namely his glory. In my mind I picture it something like a slam dunk contest. The arena is just packed with thousands upon thousands of angles anticipating the next dunk by God and then he steps up and performs a move that defies physics and the place erupts with joy.
These same angles would have witnessed God, on the final day of his creation, creating these creatures called man. Forming them out of the dust and breathing life into them. Psalm 8:5 says this about the creation of man, “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” This glory and this honor that the Psalmist is talking about is that we bear the image of God. This is a characteristic that we have, but angles do not. We image forth God.
The Tragic Fall of Man
Unfortunately, the angels would have also watched these image bearers of God rebel against Him. Declaring independence from his authority, and thereby plunging themselves into sin and darkness and death. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— “ The angels would have watched as the poison of sin began with Adam and infected all of his offspring, until the earth was covered with depravity. Until the world was full of rebellion and a war against God's rule. Genesis 9:5, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
I would assume that the shouts of joy that once filled the heaven's, quickly turned to tears of sorrow. This beautiful earth had turned into a graveyard. Because of sin, this is our destiny, to die. For some of us in this room, this may be our very last Christmas we celebrate. Why? Because as Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” This is the reality of a War against God.
And this is the pattern of this world. People are born, people sin, people die. And this would have been the play that this angelic audience was watching, it was a tragedy of epic proportions. Humanity, sheep without a Shepherd, going astray, being devoured be the wolf of sin and death.
Christ, A Game Changer
But this all changes the glorious night of Jesus birth. I cant help but wonder, what heaven looked like the night that Jesus was born. In my mind I m picturing the angels, like horses in the stalls before a race. Ready to burst through the gates of heaven and rush upon the pastures of Judea and sing the praises of God with all of their strength. Why? Because the King of Kings had finally come. Hope had taken on flesh. This was a dawning of a new day. This baby was a game changer.
700 years before Jesus was born, the Prophet Isaiah wrote in In Isaiah 9:6 which says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”
The day had finally arrived where the zeal of the Lord was manifested, was confirmed was ratified in the birth of Christ the King; the king of all kings. And this is why the Angles sang what sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Christ was the King who would end the war; the war of all wars, the war against God and man.
The Death of Death, through he Death of the King
So how does this peace come about? Does the existence of this baby in Bethlehem automatically end the war. Does it automatically satisfy the penalty of our rebellion against our Creator? No. This King who once lied in a manger, grew up and became a man, but he was more than a man, he was the God-Man. And his life was substantially different then our lives. Our lives have been lived in rebellion against God. His life was lived in obedience to God.
Philippians 2:6 says, “who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,b 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,c being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The peace that our hearts long for between ourselves and our Creator, is found, not in the manger, but on the cross. This baby that we are celebrating during the Christmas season came for one reason, and one reason only, to live a life that we couldn't live and die a death and we deserve.
And this is why the Angels sing. For without the coming of Christ, there is no hope for this wretched world. If there is no hero to the play, the tragedy ends in tears, not in joy. And this is what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown. This is what we must proclaim, for if we do not, who will?
I love the line in John 18:36 after Pilate asks the million dollar question, that I hope all of you are asking tonight, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
The question that I ask you tonight, is what Kingdom do you want to be a part of? Teh Kingdom of this World, or the Kingdom of the next world? Just because Jesus is THE King, does not mean that Jesus is YOUR King. You must choose this day whom you will serve. Are you willing to let go of your life so that you can have eternal life?
John 3:36 says this, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
Do you know what the angles do when someone choose to follow Jesus? Jesus tells us in Luke 15:10, “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” If you haven't repented and submitted to Christ the King, do so tonight, and give the angles something more to sing about.