Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sermon -- Advent Vespers, Week 2 (December 9, 2015)



MATTHEW 1:6b-11
SEE HOW THE LORD BEGETS THE CHRIST--  
Through Kings.

In the name + of Jesus. 

     When the Virgin Mary was told that she would conceive and give birth to Jesus, the angel Gabriel told her, “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David.” (Luke 1:32)  Mary pondered in her heart many events and comments about Jesus, and I am sure that this was one of the points she pondered.  After all, the Davidic kingdom had met its end almost 600 years before Mary heard the angel's words.  Herod was ruling in Jerusalem, and he was an Edomite.  Caesar was ruling in Rome, and he was not interested in the Lord or the Lord's covenant at all.  But now one would come who would be given the throne of his father, David?  That was remarkable, even unbelievable!  But Mary believed the word of the Lord.  The Lord would establish a kingdom through Jesus, the Son of David.
     St. Matthew gives the names of Jesus' ancestors to show that Jesus is indeed from the house and lineage of David.  Matthew traces Jesus' line from King David down through his royal household, right up until the day that kingdom was cut off.  Though David's throne was destroyed and though the line of kings met its demise, the promise was not destroyed.  Great David's greater Son had come.  The Virgin was with child.  His name would be Jesus, and “the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David.” (Luke 1:32)  See how the Lord begets the Christ through kings.
     When the Israelites first asked for a king to rule them, they did do so with the purest of motives.  They wanted to be like the nations which the Lord had set them apart from.  Nevertheless, the Lord gave them a king.  The first king, Saul, proved himself to be unfaithful.  He did not listen to the word of the Lord.  So the Lord had David anointed to the king after Saul.  Immediately after David was anointed king, Israel was being mocked and threatened by the Philistines.  One Philistine soldier in particular, a formidable warrior named Goliath, defied the Lord and his people.  David volunteered to fight the giant, Goliath.  The Lord's anointed single-handedly went out to battle the enemy of God's people, and he won the battle single-handedly for God's people.
     Great David foreshadowed the work of his greater Son.  Jesus Christ came into the world to do battle against our enemies—sin, death, and the devil.  Though we like to think that we live our lives in complete freedom, that is not true.  There is a throne in the heart of every person.  The only question is who is ruling there.  Again, you think that you call all of the shots in your world.  But you do not.  You are ruled either by sin or by righteousness.  There is no in between.  Either you are on the side of the Lord and do his will, or you are ruled by the devil and do his will.  And this is what the Lord says, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” (1 John 3:8)  Therefore, if we sin, it is the devil who reigns in our hearts.  And since you and I cannot stop sinning, we are claimed by the devil for his kingdom of sin, death, and hell.
     If you would be free from this, then you need one who will defeat your enemies and deliver you from them.  Great David went out single-handedly and defeated the giant, Goliath.  Great David's greater Son went forth and single-handedly defeated sin, death, and the devil.  Just as David cut off Goliath's head with his own sword, so Jesus crushed the devil's head with his own weapon.  It is sin which produces death and damnation.  Therefore, Jesus took up our sin and gave himself into death for us.  Even though Satan knew that Jesus' death meant the payment for our sins, when he had the chance to put Jesus to death, he could not help himself.  He desired the death of God's Son.  But by his death, Jesus made the payment for our sins.  They no longer condemn us.  Then Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death itself.  Therefore, the grave no longer has its power.  Then Jesus descended into hell to tell the devil to his face that he had conquered, that he lives and reigns, and that he has rescued us from the devil, from death, and from damnation.  Jesus has released you from their grasp so that you have forgiveness, life, and a glorious future in his kingdom.  Your king is no longer a tyrant who wants you damned; he is a merciful God who died to have you saved.  And now the Lord Jesus reigns.  He is King of kings forever and ever.  See how the Lord begets the Christ through kings.
     Of course, King David was a mere shadow of Jesus, and the sons of David were mere shadows of the true Son of David.  The son of David who inherited David's throne was Solomon.  He was begotten through the wife of another man, Uriah.  This adulterous incident is a terrible mark on David's record.  It was not only an illicit affair, it also resulted in the murder of Uriah.  Through this sinful man who acted so shamefully, the Lord begat the Christ.  The son which was born to David and Bathsheba became King.  God granted him astounding wisdom.  Unfortunately, Solomon also turned his heart to the gods of his foreign wives.  Through this idolatrous king, the Lord begat the Christ.  Jesus Christ came into this world through sinful, shameful men not to reward their sins, but to atone for them—to pay the price for people who have chased other women and even chased other gods.  See how the Lord begets the Christ through kings.
     The lives of these kings are recorded in Scripture both to admonish and to encourage us.  These kings—Rehoboam, Abijah, Jehoshaphat, Asa, Joram, and so on—were given the assignment of ruling over Judah and defending God's covenant for his people.  Some were better than others in regards to the economy, politics, or foreign relations, but the Lord judged everyone by the same criterion: Either he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord or he did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord.  Of course, no one ever did everything right in the eyes of the Lord.  All were sinners, and all proved it.  Some proved it better than others, and some even died in their sinful rebellion.  It was from men such as these that the Savior came into the world.  And it is because the world is filled with people like these that the world needs that Savior.
     See how the Lord begets the Christ through kings.  All of these kings were flawed.  None were faultless.  Their reigns were neither permanent nor perfect.  But Jesus Christ has the fulfilled the kingly office by doing everything he was anointed to do.  Jesus was anointed king to lead the battle against our foes, and Jesus won the battle single-handedly over sin, death, and the devil.  Jesus was anointed king to rule for the good of his people, and by his sufferings and death for you, Jesus has achieved your highest good—the forgiveness of your sins.  Jesus was anointed to defend the covenant of God's people.  Through your baptism, Jesus has made in unbreakable covenant with you which means that you are members of his kingdom forever.  Now Jesus dwells on that throne in your heart so that your lives are directed by righteousness and ruled by God's grace.
     See how the Lord begets the Christ through kings.  Jesus has received the throne of his father David.The Son of David now possesses all authority in heaven and on earth, and he employs that authority for your benefit, for your forgiveness, and for your salvation.  Jesus lives and reigns above all.  There is no greater name.  There is no higher power.  Great David's greater Son rules uncontested and in an unending reign.  He is your King, and he lives and reigns for you.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

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