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It Is All About Him - His Kingdom

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12-19-99

IT IS ALL ABOUT HIM - HIS KINGDOM
LUKE 1:19-38; MATTHEW 2

In March, 1999, in Newsweek Magazine Kenneth Woodward wrote, "For believers, He is the hinge of history. But even
by secular standards, Jesus is the dominant figure of western culture."

Historians did not record His birth. Nor for thirty years did anyone pay Him much heed. A Jew from the Galilean Hill
Country with the reputation for teaching and healing, He showed up at the age of thirty-three in Jerusalem during
Passover. In three days, He was arrested, tried, and convicted of treason, then executed like the commonest of
criminals. His followers said that God raised Him from the dead, but except among those who believed in him, the
event passed without notice.

Two thousand years later, the centuries themselves are measured from the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. At the end of
this year, calendars in India and China, like those in Europe, America, and the Middle East, will register the dawn of
the third millennium. It is a convention, of course: of fiction and function of western culture hegemony that allows the
birth of Jesus to number the days for Christians and non-Christians alike. For Christians, Jesus is the hinge on which
the door of history swings, the point which eternity intersects with time, the Savior who redeems time by drawing all
things to Himself. As the second millennium draws to a close, nearly a third of the world's population claims to be His
followers.

But by any secular standard, Jesus is also the dominant figure of western culture. Like the millennium itself, much of
what we now think of as western ideas, inventions and values finds its source or inspiration in the religion that
worships God in His name." (Kenneth Woodward, Newsweek, March 29, 1999.)

It is indeed all about Him! It is all about His place in history, even His kingdom.

As we turn back to the Christmas record again, we find a witness from the beginning that He was born to rule over a
kingdom. He is indeed the designated King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I want us to take a survey this morning and look at the Kingdom and His relationship to the Kingdom that is set forth
in the Christmas story and the witness of His life.

I. HIS INTRODUCTION AS KING
In Luke's account of the Christmas story, it is the angel Gabriel who brings the news to Mary that a king is to be born.
The record reads like this, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give
birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; His
kingdom will never end." This is the introduction to Jesus as the King.

1. He is introduced as the Son of God.

In this announcement given by Gabriel two statements are set forth in a parallel form. In the first Gabriel declares,
"He will be great." This is stated as an absolute. There will be unquestioned greatness in everything related to this
child to be born to Mary. In the parallel statement we have an explanation for this greatness, "And will be called the
Son of the Most High." In the language of the Old Testament God is the only one set forth as the "Most High."
Obviously, Gabriel intended Mary to understand that the one to be born to her was to be uniquely the Son of the
Most High God. It would be this unique relationship to God that would serve as the explanation of the greatness of His
life.

So when we talk about Him as King, He is the rightful King because of this relationship to the Most High God.

2. He is introduced as the heir to the throne of David.
Gabriel continued his explanation to Mary by saying, "The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David." In
our study of His genealogy we have already looked at the evidence that He is a direct descendent of King David on
both his mother's side as well as on the side of Joseph, His adopted father. So, legally He was the heir to the promise
that God had given to David that there would be a descendent of his upon the throne of Israel throughout the ages.
Gabriel introduces this king by indicating that it is the sovereign purpose of God to give to Him the throne of David.

This would have been great news to any Hebrew in that first century. The prayer of the faithful in those years was for
the fulfillment of the promise, the sending of the Son of David to sit on the throne. This brings before us the
uniqueness of the person of Jesus. As Paul stated in the Roman Letter "Regarding His Son, who as to human nature
was a descendent of David, and who through the Spirit of Holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by
His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:3-4). So we have heaven and earth coming
together in His person. Deity and humanity made one in his flesh. Could there ever be anyone more qualified to sit
on a throne than the one who is after the flesh the descendent of David and who is after the Spirit the Son of the
Most High God? Gabriel introduces Him in this Christmas Story as the only legitimate ruler that there is for human
kind.

II. HIS REJECTION AS KING.
From the very beginning of His life it began to be obvious that the citizens of earth did not want Him as king. It is here
in the Christmas Stories. The familiar stories that we tell at this time of the year confronts us with the sad reality that
He became the rejected king.

1. He was rejected by the ruling class.
Matthew records for us the beautiful story of the coming Magi. These wise men came from the East searching for the
one who had been born the King of the Jews. Their following the star that God had placed in the heavens brought
them to the logical place to find the King of Israel - Jerusalem. But when they arrived in Jerusalem, they found no one
there who knew anything about a king being born. Rather, they found a king sitting on the throne of Israel who had
no desire for another king to be born in his kingdom. He acted toward the wise men deceitfully thus hiding his own
evil motivations, but when the opportunity came in an attempt to get rid of the new born king he had every child up to
the age of two in Bethlehem put to death. This was an omen of things to come. The ruling class of His day
unanimously rejected Him as king.

Thirty-three years later you will find Pilate who represents Rome; the Sanhedrin that represents Israel; Herod who
also represents Rome, all in agreement that there is no place for Jesus as king. In mockery of His claims to kingship,
Pilate gives instruction that there is to be a placard put on His cross that declared Him to be the king of the Jews, but
the ruling class led the common people in saying to Pilate, "We have no king but Caesar! We have no king but
Caesar! No sadder words have ever been uttered. They had standing in their midst the Son of God - Son of David.
He was the appointed heir to the throne of David, but they concluded that they did not want Him to reign over them.

Peter Marshall, the famous Presbyterian minister of a generation ago, said one Christmas, "At Christ's birth the high
and mighty was unaware that a miracle was happening beneath their upturned noses!" We do not want to be guilty of
the misjudgment of the high and mighty of that first century.

2. He was rejected by the religious class.
Not only did the ruling class reject His claims to kingship, the religious class joined in that rejection. The priests who
received the inquiry of the men from the East did not have enough interest in the birth of the new king to make the
trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to see if something had really happened. They went about their regular religious
routines as though nothing of any significance was taking place around them.

Even though the names and the faces were different, 33 years later the religious class of Jerusalem had almost
unanimously concluded that Jesus was an imposter, a fraud, and that He had no claim to the throne of David. It was
upon their recommendation that Pilate actually put Him to death. So when you look at the record it is most
discouraging.  Even though He was introduced by the angel from heaven as being God's appointed ruler to sit on the
throne of Israel, those in charge of the society of that day decided to put Him to death rather than to crown Him as
the king.

There was not only no room for Him in the Inn at Bethlehem, there was also no room for Him on the throne of Israel.

What is your reaction to His claims to the throne of the universe and the throne of your own heart? Are you in
agreement with that first century class of people that decided that they would rather have Caesar than Jesus as their
ruler? Have you decided that you have found the better alternative, someone with better claims to your life than
Jesus?

III. HIS RECEPTION AS KING
It would be unfair to the Christmas record to end the record talking about rejection. There were some who received
Him as a king should be received. Both Matthew and Luke leave for us a record that the rejection of His claims was
not unanimous.

1. He was received by the lost.
However you define these wise men from the East you will have to identify them as representing lost Gentiles. They
were not descendents of Abraham in search of their national ruler. They were Gentile astrologers. Their lives had
been dominated by false religious ideas and idols. But God had broken in to their world through this strange
phenomena of the star in the sky. To their eternal credit it must be said that when God spoke to them in language
they understood, they said "yes." They made the long journey from the East all the way to Jerusalem in search of the
king.

When the found the one that God had designated as the king of Israel, they bowed before Him in acknowledgement
of His right to rule and presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh - gifts that were worthy of a king. Isn't this a
surprising thing? The people to whom He came in fulfillment of the words of the prophets rejected Him. But people
who had no reason to know anything about Him received Him as King. It is still that way. Some that we would expect to
become devoted subjects of Jesus reject Him. Then some that we would never anticipate that they would have any
interest in Jesus choose to become subjects in His kingdom.

2. He was received by the lowly.
The other group that received Him that first Christmas was from the lower strata of society. Luke tells us about them.
They were shepherds who were taking care of the flocks in the fields of Judea. Through our Christmas pageantry we
have idealized these men but actually in that first century they were considered unclean. They were not able to live
by the religious rules that the Pharisees had imposed upon the polite society of Israel. They lived out in the world of
nature and could not keep all of those rules. Many of the shepherds had a reputation of being somewhat like the
caricature of Gypsy -- they had sticky fingers and were often guilty of common thievery. But to the credit of these
lowly shepherds, it must be remembered that when they received the message from the angel that the king had been
born in Bethlehem, they went in search of the king.

When the shepherds found this new born king, they bowed before Him and worshipped.  They offered to Him the kind
of response that a shepherd was capable of making to a new born king.

The response of these two groups - the lost and the lowly is basic to the gospel message of the New Testament.
Jesus came and brought His kingdom to those who were counted insignificant by all the kingdoms of earth. He
opened the doors to the Kingdom of God, to the lost, lonely, and lowly of earth. If they were willing to open their lives
and receive Him, to them He gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name.
Luke reports that Gabriel assured Mary that of his kingdom there would be no end. What a word this is. He brought
into human history the kingdom that the world has never been able to destroy. Those impacts listed by Kenneth
Woodward in my introduction this morning were only one indication that He introduced into history something that
requires God as an explanation.

Some years ago the communist ruler, Nikita Khrushchev delivered a boast that by the year 1965, he would parade
the last Christian in Russia before Russian television. It was his confident expectation that he would eliminate all
Christianity from Russian society. Almost before the remains of Khrushchev were cold in the tomb, God had over
turned the whole governmental system of which he had been a part. There was then a mass turning of Russian
people back to faith in the despised Jesus of Nazareth.  Khrushchev is now just a faint memory in history, but the
kingdom of Jesus Christ is still exercising its influence in the world. It is best that we never forget that when we are
speaking of the kingdom of Jesus Christ that we speak of a kingdom that will never end.

If Jesus Christ is indeed the king of the ages, then what should your response be? Some years ago a man came to
Whistler, the famous artist, and asked him to help him accomplish a project. He purchased a beautiful but unusual
painting and he was attempting to find a place for it in his room. After the famous artist had made a survey of the
room he said to his friend, "Man, you are beginning at the wrong end. You can't make that painting fit the room.  You
will have to make the room fit the painting." If Jesus Christ is king, it is not a matter of finding a way to fit Him into your
present life. Rather what you do is receive Him into your life as king and then rearrange everything in your life in light
of this reality. In light of this reality, you rearrange your personal life, your family life, your business life, and your civic
responsibilities.  In other words, when you place Him in your life as king He becomes ruler and you become the
subject. In this relationship you begin to enjoy all of the powers of the age to come; all of the realities of the Kingdom
of God in this present time.

Let me urge you to give Jesus rightful place in your life as king over your heart.

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