We study through the books of the Bible here at The Village Chapel. And we do have some extra copies, if you didn’t bring one with you, and you’d like one to follow along, raise your hand up real high, and we’ll make sure somebody gets one to you.
In the announcements in Kim’s prayer you also heard about Room in the Inn, which I think is such a great ministry. We’ve been doing that for a number of years on Super Bowl Sunday. And, evidently, this year, a lot of us have some free time or around that particular [event]. Some of you know what I’m talking about.
We are studying the Gospel According to Matthew. And I love that we’re in Matthew Chapter 2, not too long after Christmas, because I usually have to preach this passage during the Christmas season. I love what Jickett Jackson used to say. He says, “You know, we get all excited on the ramp up to Christmas and nobody talks about Christmas much after Christmas.” I think there is that tendency.
I’m really glad we’re here in Matthew Chapter 2; if you want, turn there in your Bibles. Our study of Matthew is titled “The King and His Kingdom.” That’s what this book is basically about. And today, we will title this study of Matthew Chapter 2, “A Tale of Two Kings and Two Kingdoms.”
As we read, you’ll discover that we really don’t know how many wise men there were. I sure hope I’m not smashing anybody’s dreams, hopes, and all that sort of thing. If you have a crutch at home and it’s got three little wise men, I’m sorry. No, they weren’t there.
And we also don’t know if they were Kings. That’s the other thing. You’re going to find some stuff out here today that you thought was, you know, ‘we three kings.’ Well, we don’t know that there were three and we don’t know that they were kings. We really don’t.
We don’t know with much clarity precisely what this star was. And I think of all the efforts—and I’ve made some of those efforts—to figure it out, to see when the comets were passing by to figure out when the stars aligned in such a way that it might have appeared as something like then. I think we’re looking really hard to find the natural explanation for something that happened in a very supernatural kind of way. Our tendency is to do that, and I think it’s good to recognize that.
While I can’t really explain to you exactly what happened with the star and how it was that God made this whole thing happen, I’m just going to tell you that this is what the Bible declares. And since it opens with, “In the beginning, God created the heavens of the earth (out of nothing),“ I don’t think it would be much for the God that can do that to do something like this. And so I’m simply reminding you of that as we get into reading this whole thing.
We need to be reminded that Jesus was likely a toddler at the time of the visit of the magi (in his two’s). We don’t know if Jesus had a terrible two’s kind of life, his little family in it. We just don’t know a whole lot about that. I don’t think he had a terrible two’s. If he had gotten mad and had the power to do virtually anything who knows what could have gone wrong there, but it didn’t. Evidently, we’re not told any of that. We don’t know a lot about his childhood. There’s a lot of tradition surrounding an explanation to his childhood. But what is here, I think, is what God wants us to know. So, we mustn’t say more than we should, and we mustn’t say less than we should. Let me pray:
Lord, give us eyes to see what we may not have seen before. Help us to know some things perhaps this day that we hadn’t known before to learn. Lord, make us who we are not now, but you want us to become, so transform us and let this not just be information, but may there be transformation as we study your word unique in its source, timeless in its truth, broad in its reach, and transforming in its power. Amen.
Matthew Chapter 2 (about a year and a half, maybe two years after what we just read in Matthew Chapter 1, which was, in short, the genealogy of Jesus). And then from Verse 18, down to the end of Chapter 1, Verse 25 there, the conception and birth of Jesus announced to Joseph. Joseph is encouraged to go on ahead take for a wife, Mary. And he, I think, is a pretty honorable man. That last verse says, “He arose from his sleep.” This angel appeared to him in a dream, “and he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took her as his wife, kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son and called his name ‘Jesus” just like the angel had told him.” This man is eager to obey the Lord in a way that I wish I would be. Maybe you find that challenging as well. He’s not a perfect man. He fades from the scene. But in Matthew Chapter 1 and 2, this is the most we know about Joseph, the legal guardian of Jesus, but not the biological father of Jesus.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea and that’s the southern third of Israel in the days of Herod the king. This is Herod the Great. He reigned from 37 BC to 4 BC. Verse 1: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king.”
Some of you are going, “Wait a minute, if he reigned till 4 BC, how is it that Jesus is born after that?” And that’s because in the 5th and 6th centuries, there’s a man named Dionysius Exiguus, who put together the Western calendar. And we know more now about the life and death of Herod the Great than he did back then. And so while he fixed the Western calendar, we have refixed it to understand at least when it is that Jesus probably was born in what we now call 5, 6, or 7 B.C. And we should just love that calendar. I’m a total geek and a nerd on these kinds of things.
Here come these “Magi from the East, arrived in Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the East and we have come to worship him. And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled and all of Jerusalem with him.’”
Now Herod’s a tyrant king. He is a client king, Herod the Great was, of the Roman empire. He worked for the Roman empire. And he was from 37, like I said, to 4 B.C. He was over this region, this area as king, or he was appointed king. Here come the Magi. And who are they? We don’t know. That doesn’t say kings there. You noticed that, right? Doesn’t say three there. You noticed that, right? It does say though that they came to Jerusalem. Why? Well, because that was sort of the capital of that region. They’re following a star, but the star hasn’t taken them to Bethlehem yet.
And so, the Magi are in some combination of science and some kind of compelling draw by God, I think, to the region there—perhaps informed by some ancient scrolls that were left in Babylon during the time that the Jews (70 years) were in Babylon. And perhaps these guys were scientists and astrologers and historians, very evidently, wealthy enough to travel 500 to maybe 1000 miles, as a lot of Bible commentaries suggest, and to take the time off to be able to go do that. And they’re curious and interested enough to make that journey without a motor coach or an airplane. And they come and they’re eager to what? Worship the one who is what? Born king of the Jews, not appointed king of the Jews by the Roman government, but the one who now is born king of the Jews. And this troubles Herod. Verse 3 tells us, “And all of Jerusalem with him.” And that’s because tyrant kings, when they are troubled, all of their subjects should be trembling. And that’s exactly right. We’re going to see how dark this passage gets and how it really would have caused them great fear.
“When Herod the king heard it, he was troubled. All of Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all of the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ….” That’s interesting that Matthew tells it that way, not where the baby king, born king, but where the Christ, which would make Jesus the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises. And Herod and these religious leaders would have known that.
They come back with the answer. Where was he to be born? They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea for so it has been written by the prophet.” Then a quote from Micah, “You Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people, Israel.” And what’s interesting to me is that these Magi, these educated but non-Jewish, probably wealthy men travel 500 to 1000 miles because they’re drawn about what they’ve heard, what they’ve seen in the heavens, it’s drawing them in such a way they know, ‘We’ve got to go worship this baby king.’ And here is Herod, and the religious leaders of his time, 10 miles away, and they’re not even looking into it. The religious leaders say to Herod, ‘It’s Bethlehem.’ And they quote from Micah, which they knew clearly about that. And Herod secretly called the Magi and ascertained from them the time the star had appeared.
So now Herod’s triangulating all of his data. He’s not really interested in the Messiah. He’s got another thing in mind, right? He ascertained from them the time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go make careful search for that child. When you find him, report to me that I too may come and worship him.” Now he is an out and out liar. Imagine they had a politician that’s a liar. I’ve never. Can you imagine that? That’s crazy, isn’t it?
“Having heard the king, [these Magi] went on their way. And lo, the star, which they had seen in the East, went on before them.” So now, evidently, it picks up its motion. They’re tracking it. “Until it came and it stood over where the child was.” You have questions about that. I have questions about that. I know that when I look up in the heavens at night, and I might see Arcturus, or I might see one of the planets, certainly the moon, there are people hundreds and thousands of miles away from where I am that look up in the heavens and they’re actually seeing the same thing I’m seeing just from a little bit different, very slight minuscule, different angle. But they’re seeing the same kinds of things I’m seeing. So how did they know that this particular brilliant light in the heavens is standing over where the child was? I don’t know the answer to that. And I’m okay with that. I just know God wanted them there. That’s what’s important in the book of Matthew: that Matthew, the accountant, given to detail and precision, this is what we were meant to know.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house.” Not the stable, remember, not the manger. They’re coming into the house now. “And saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. And opening their treasures, they presented him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.” And this is likely where somebody, somewhere down through church history, got the idea there were three kings, and maybe these gifts represent Jesus—Prophet, Priest, and King. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I don’t know. All I’m saying is they have brought some pretty expensive stuff and they have bowed the knee to this baby in a house. There were lots of toddlers at that time, I’m sure. But this one in particular has drawn men who aren’t even Jews, this international group of people that have traveled so far. What they do is worship him. Again, 10 miles up the road, Herod and the religious leaders of the time, not traveling even 10 miles to see if it’s true.
“Having been warned by God in a dream…” By the way, we’ll read “in a dream” four times in this chapter and we’ve read it already in Chapter 1. In a dream, God is doing some speaking and some revealing. I don’t know if you have dreams. Sometimes I have weird dreams. Maybe you have weird dreams too. Can God speak through dreams? Yes, He can. But I want you to be aware of this: so can bad pizza and bad meat! That’s why we’re glad we have this book because this book can help us, lead us, and guide us if we want to know whether or not something we dreamt is true or is worthy of taking heed of. We’re going to find something in this book that’s going to help, lead, and guide us. This scripture is our standard for belief and behavior. That’s why we study through books of the Bible here at The Village Chapel.
“Having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they, the Magi, departed for their own country by another way.” And this is a great metaphor, or analogy if you prefer that way. But this is what happens when you come to Jesus: you leave differently. Everybody who encounters the Living Christ will be changed in some way. That’s a beautiful thing. These guys are warned in a dream by God not to return to Herod, not to go to him and give him the information. God is literally shepherding time and the motion of individuals within time, within this nation to make things happen a certain way. And watch, here’s another one of the details that God is shepherding.
Verse 13, “Now, when they had departed, (by another way) “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream” (second of four times) “saying arise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, remain there until I tell you.” So, the Lord is saying do this until I tell you. In other words, He’s in charge. Do this…until I tell you. He’s in charge of timing too, which frustrates me sometimes. Does that frustrate you? I’m in a hurry a lot. I like microwave sort of living. And God is never in a hurry. His brow is never sweating. His palms are never wrinkling—if I could use those anthropomorphisms. He’s never in a hurry, but He’s always right on time. Isn’t He? And so He tells Joseph in a dream to arise, take the baby, take Mary and go to Egypt and remain until I tell you for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.
Again, contrast that with the Magi. They come all those miles, all that effort to worship. Herod is 10 miles away won’t even come. And when he does, when he sends his representatives, it will be to murder. Wow, that’s quite a contrast, isn’t it? “So Joseph arose and took the child and his mother by night” (in other words, immediately) “and he departed for Egypt and was there until the death of Herod.” A lot of time could have passed here. I don’t know how much time. “In order that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled say….” And by the way, “fulfilled” is a keyword in the book of Matthew over and over and over again. This Jewish man, who’s an accountant, is connecting the dots between Old Testament prophecy and its fulfillment in Jesus. So, he says “fulfillment” like a dozen or more times in the book of Matthew. “So that what was spoken of the prophet might be fulfilled saying, ‘Out of Egypt, did I call my son?'” That’s from Hosea, I believe. “Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi….”
Okay. Now this tyrant realizes that the Magi have not come back. “He became very enraged.” Not just enraged, but “very enraged.” And he said, “Kill all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi that that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet might be fulfilled saying, ‘A voice was heard in Rama” (this is Rama just outside of Bethlehem) “weeping and great mourning.’ Rachel weeping for her children. She refused to be comforted because they were no more.” Her children were no more.
I know most of our Christmas preachments are meant to be uplifting and all that, but you have to understand that Jesus chose, not only to be born into poverty and obscurity, but He chose to come at a time when there was great pain and suffering and grieving. If you can imagine what this might have been like if you lived in Bethlehem or its regions and the soldiers came in from Jerusalem from Herod and literally ripped away children from their parents. I can’t even imagine that. What a horrible man Herod the Great was. I’m sorry, but this is exactly right. Not only did he do this heinous thing, the murder of the innocents, but Herod the Great, he had 10 wives, actually his favorite wife, believe it or not, he killed her. He killed his own mother. He killed some of his own sons—three of them, I believe. This man was paranoid that somebody was trying to take his throne. And the idea that somebody might be born the king of the Jews that might come to pass at some point, that this little baby might actually take away Herod’s throne, that enraged him so much that he did this kind of thing.
“When Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to in a dream.” (by the way, third of four times) “Appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt saying, ‘Arise and take the child and his mother and go into the land of Israel for those who sought the child’s life are dead.'” I love that the Lord is again superintending the flow of history and the span of life for this evil wicked King Herod. And there is an appointed time when he wants Joseph and Mary and Jesus to come back to Israel. He goes and tells them that they can go there, that this evil king is dead. And here is Joseph, again, responding immediately. “He arose and took the child and his mother and came into the land of Israel. When he heard that Archelaus was reigning…” Archelaus is one of the sons of Herod the Great, When Herod the Great dies, he’s the king of all of that area. His kingdom will actually be split up between three of his sons. Archelaus is one of them. “When Joseph heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea…” that’s the southern third in place of his father, Herod, “he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, (fourth time) he departed for the regions of Galilee.” What’s in Galilee, people? Nazareth. “And came and resided in a city called Nazareth that what was spoken through the prophets might be,” here’s our word again, “fulfilled. He shall be called a Nazarene.”
There’s so much in this chapter. There’s some amazing stuff, and then there’s some really heartbreaking stuff, but there’s also a lot of gospel hope here. As I say, not quite natural for people to wonder about the star. We get sidetracked by a lot of these. ‘If you can’t explain that, then I’m not going to believe.’ Well, my answer to that is if you can explain your own existence or the existence of any of us or the existence of other minds at all, if you can explain all of that, then you might as well be God yourself.
Why is something rather than nothing? The answer to that question, and that question has been rolling around through the centuries. Nobody’s got a good answer for that other than the one I read in the Bible, which is “In the beginning, God.” That makes sense to me too. Well-ordered, too beautiful. Is it fierce? Is it too dangerous? Yeah, it is. That’s the price of beauty sometimes. That’s the price of awesome sometimes. And God is awesome and amazing.
While there are some questions we might have about this particular chapter, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong to ask the questions. It just means, are we humble enough to accept the fact that we can’t know everything? Is that the disposition of your heart, your mind, or are you kind of drawing a line and saying, “If I can’t know everything, then I’m not going to trust anything, or I’m not going to believe anything.” You will never believe anything if you’re waiting around to know everything, because you don’t have capacity for this. We’re talking about an infinite God here. We are finite creatures trying to understand and comprehend things about an infinite God. And by definition, finite cannot fully understand infinite unless infinite chooses to reveal some things to us. And that’s what we have here in these ancient scriptures. I’m so excited about them.
We have here the story of two kings and two kingdoms, I think, in Chapter 2. Two kings: Herod the Great versus Jesus, the Servant King. Two kingdoms: the kingdom of this world versus the Kingdom of Heaven. And the thing I want to highlight for us as we consider this, even this morning, is you have a choice as to who will be your king. But once you make that choice, please understand you will be living in the kingdom of that king. So weigh both thoughts very carefully, especially the first one. Who would you like to have as your king?
In this particular story, we have Herod the Great who lived in a palace with all the privileges and power of the Roman empire contrasted and compared with Jesus the Servant King who was born in a stable, grew up in obscurity, never even owned a home. He owns the whole universe by the way, but he didn’t own a home. Never had a mortgage. Herod the Great came to power via appointment by the mighty Roman empire. Jesus the Servant King invaded His creation by Divine appointment as a baby born to a poor Jewish couple. He is Immanuel/God with us, Messiah, Life and Light, King of the Jews, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. Herod the Great is an earthly power and authority, cruel tyrant, control freak. Jesus the Servant King, heavenly power, authority. And this is what’s beautiful about Jesus, too. Not the cruel tyrant and control freak, but rather somebody who uses heavenly power and authority to form these miracles that not only affirmed who he was as the Son of God. If He’s the Son of God, you would think He could do things like walk on water, heal people, open the eyes of the blind, all that stuff. But He used His power and authority to not only establish His identity, but also simply to say, ‘I love broken people, and I’m here, and this is the beginning of the great reversal. Put your trust in me.’ So His wisdom and His teaching, His compassion, that’s on display.
Consider also the fact that He brought truth and grace whereas Moses brought the law. What a great contrast between Herod the Great, who literally tried to control everybody with his edicts, and Jesus who taught in parable. And the parables are beautiful because the parables both reveal and conceal. He who has eyes to see will see what’s in the parables. And Jesus is even so gracious with His disciples through the book of Matthew. As we study, you’ll see Him take time with His disciples, even to explain some things that they struggle with. Maybe answer some questions for them. But it’s because their hearts are inclined to believe. They’re not standing there in some kind of obstinate, “No, prove yourself to me or I won’t believe at all.” You know, it’s not like that. Herod the king, his character marked by narcissistic, self-obsession, fear, paranoia, and violence. Jesus the Servant King: a character marked by selflessness, humility, love and kindness.
Herod the Great died in infamy. In other words, he was famous for being bad. His earthly kingdom completely dismantled. Archelaus Herod Antipas will be the one who will rule up in the north. And when Joseph decides not to go to the south because of Archelaus, Archelaus already has the reputation by this time of being evil, mean and wicked just like his father, Herod the Great. So, Joseph decides let’s go up to the north into Nazareth and Herod Antipas is up there. I’ve got to say, not much better. I can kind of see where, in a way, those guys are feeling a lot like some of us feel. We have to make a choice in an election. It’s really, I just take the worst of two—I mean, the best of the two. Worst or whatever! And that’s kind of what he had. That’s the choice he had to make here. Where am I going to bring my family? It’s going to be the best of these worst choices that I have.
Joseph ends up in Nazareth. But, of course, that’s also to fulfill prophecy. Jesus the Servant King, His death. He gave His life for others. His death began the great reversal. His kingdom will have no end. It’s said that when Herod the Great, just before he died in 4 BC, he actually had 100 Jewish males thrown in prison and gave the command that upon Herod’s death, all of those 100 Jewish males were to be put to death. Because Herod the Great, in his complete paranoia, wanted to make sure that Jerusalem wept on the day that Herod the Great died. Fortunately, from what I’ve read, once he died, they decided not to obey him anymore, which was great for those 100 men, for sure. But I mean, that’s how paranoid this guy was.
As you compare the two kingdoms, you see that the kingdom of this world is overcome by darkness, violence, poverty, oppression, injustice, evil, cruel loss, crushing grief. If Herod is your king, you do horrible vile things like they did in Bethlehem with all those children, the murder of the innocents. If Herod is your king, you live like he does. You’re constantly paranoid. You’re constantly fearful. You’re constantly trying really hard to cover the bases. Is that any way to live? Choose your king carefully because you will live in that king’s kingdom. Two kingdoms.
The Kingdom of Heaven, on the other hand, rescued by the Light of the World, Jesus, who has dispelled the dark and now offers eternal life to all who repent and believe in Him. The redeemed of God live their lives on a pilgrimage of joyful worship. I love this. Although the Magi come all that distance eager to worship. You know what? You’re really longing for, whether you know it or not, what we’re all really longing for is to actually worship God. That’s why we take time with these creeds because these creeds help us ask those basic questions that go, what’s the chief end of mankind? Oh, to worship God, to enjoy Him forever.
It’s really good for us to push reset and get back to that again every now and then because we forget that. We’re so busy out here building our own little kingdom, building our own brand, building our own name, building our own following. And then that becomes our decisive validator. And it just turns in. It’s like Herod’s kingdom, which is constantly nervous, constantly unsatisfied, chronically angrier at others and oftentimes cruel toward others. But with Jesus as our King, we’re rescued by the Light of the World. As you’re contrasted in this world, you’re dominated by the privilege and powerful, regulated by the self-serving, ruined by the increasingly competitive struggle for position and power. So dominated, regulated, and ruined. Wow. That’s what happens with Herod if you go that approach. If you go by some king of this world, those are the kinds of things, in smaller or greater degrees, that will happen.
With Jesus as your King in the Kingdom of Heaven, you’re ruled by a Servant King. One who came to lay down His life. One who came to serve, not to be served. Those are His own words. And so you’re ruled by a Servant King. Who wouldn’t want that? You are part of a diversity of people from every nation, social, educational, economic background. These Magi are not Jews. So, from the get-go, just out of the cradle as a toddler, Jesus begins a transformation of the entire world. Right? Yes, he came into Israel, into the chosen people first, but man, this gospel of His is for the entire world. It’s the most inclusive religion on the face of the planet—Kingdom of Heaven, invigorated as the formerly wrecked and ruined, now redeemed people of God who eagerly gather to worship and follow their Servant King, Jesus.
All right. A couple of other little things that you’ve probably heard. These make plaques, but they’re actually still really true. “Wise men and shepherds still seek Him.” These guys, these Magi, they’re wealthy, they’re probably well-educated because of what they can do (look up in the stars, track the motion of the stars, and think through these scrolls that they might have read, and all that sort of thing). And then they must be wealthy to be able to travel like they did. And that’s dangerous. That’s, you know, a long way to go in that world, in that day and time. When some of us think in our own day and time that to even walk outside at night could be dangerous. These guys are traveling all that distance to worship Him. The shepherds that we read about in Luke’s gospel, it’s interesting to compare and contrast those two groups, too. They both receive revelation from God and their response is actually the same. “Let’s go! Let’s check it out. Let’s worship Him!” I love that. So wise men, and if you just measure their lives on a worldly scale, these guys were at the top, you know, social status, wealth, education, all that stuff. Shepherds, they’re likely the more blue collar, less educated, less wealthy. In some ways, that’s one of those professions or vocations in that day and time that would’ve been looked down on. And yet both come to seek Him and to worship Him.
So whatever way you come to Jesus, you always leave another way, you always leave changed. Good news: You get to choose your king. Reality check: Whoever your king is, you’re going to live in that king’s kingdom. Really important for us to know. Napoleon Bonaparte is supposed to have said this:
“Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires, but upon what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love, and at this hour, millions of men would die for Him.”–Napoleon Bonaparte
That’s pretty sharp contrast. Fleming Rutledge, in her own day and time as a theologian and an author, she has a book called Means of Grace, which is a collection of some of her old sermons:
“Only a faith forged out of suffering can say with conviction that the angels and monsters will not coexist forever (in other words, one of them is going to go away), that the agonies of the victims will someday be rectified and that the unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ will be the Last Word.”–Fleming Rutledge, Means of Grace
Somebody say, “Amen!” I mean, you don’t have to go all Pentecostal on that amen. But I want at least a Methodist or a, you know, Nazarene amen on that one. That’s just so brilliant because what that’s acknowledging is the reality of the brokenness of the world, where that kind of wickedness that Herod committed where the murder of the innocents happens. And we don’t sweep it under the rug. We weep. We weep over the injustices in our world. But we rejoice because we know where all of this will end up.
M. Robert Mulholand, Jr. has been emeritus professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, author of several books. He said,
“It should be obvious by now that putting on the new nature is far more radical than attitude adjustments and behavior modifications.”–M. Robert Mulholand, Jr.
Remember when we used to do “attitude adjustment”? Some of you are old enough to remember this. In the youth group, that was your cue to yell, “Praise the Lord.” You know, or something, right?
“It should be obvious by now that putting on the new nature is far more radical than attitude adjustments and behavior modifications. The life hidden with Christ in God is one of such growing union with God in love that God’s presence becomes the context of our daily life. God’s purposes become the matrix of our activities and the values of God’s kingdom shape our life and relationships; God’s living presence becomes the ground of our identity, the source of our meaning, the seat of our value, and the center of our purpose.”–M. Robert Mulholand, Jr.
That’s a long quote, but it’s a really rich quote. And I really appreciate what he’s saying there. So many people are striving. Just look up there at that last slide. So many people are striving for the ground of their identity, the source of their meaning, the seat of their value, and the center of their purpose in life. Is that you? Is that somebody you know? Man, here’s the king, Jesus the Servant King inviting you to come and enter His kingdom. Who’s ready right now to trust Jesus as your king? Who’s ready right now to believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead and that he is indeed the son of God? The only one really qualified to save. The only one who could save us. I hope that’s you.
In a minute, we’re going to sing, “Though the nations rage, kingdoms rise and fall, there is still one king reigning over all. So, I will not fear for this truth remains that my God is the ancient of days. None above him. None before Him. All of time in His hands. For His throne, it shall remain an ever-stand. All the power. All the glory. I will trust in His name for my God is the Ancient of Days.”
You have a choice today. I have a choice every single day when I awake. You have the same choice. Who will be your king this day? Pastor Charlie Dates, I think he’s up in Chicago land area. This is just a brilliant quote. I’ll close with this one and we’ll close in prayer. But he says,
“You do not come to see who you really are until you come to see who Jesus really is.”–Pastor Charlie Dates
This Servant King, okay? “Anyone who will not see Jesus as He truly is, will always make more of themselves than they truly are.” Herod was that way. The religious leaders were that way. They couldn’t even bother to go 10 miles to figure out whether or not this was from God or not.
How eager are you to respond in worship to the one who has come as the Servant King to lay down his life for you to offer you a free gift of salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone? Let’s pray:
Lord, we are fascinated by all of what we just read there in Matthew Chapter 2. Real people on the ground struggling, many of them weeping, so many of them broken-hearted, so many of them. Thank You that You draw near to the broken-hearted. You save those who are crushed in spirit. And that may describe some of us this morning. It may describe some of us in a month from now. We just don’t know it, but we would like to choose You as our King this day, to recognize You, to give You our allegiance, to bow the knee before You, to honor You, to respond to Your overtures of unconditional love toward us. The self-sacrifice. You took our place on the cross. We bow our knees with gratitude, open the empty hands of faith and receive from You what we cannot earn ourselves. Receive from You life. In His name, we pray. Amen and amen.
(Edited for Reading)