Saga Coming of the King

Welcome to ReCreate Ministry. Our mission is making and growing authentic followers of Christ. Remember, in the Return of the King movie, when you first see Aragorn after he’s been crowned king? If you’re a Tolkien nut like me, it was a very emotional moment. 

After everything that has taken place throughout the three movies, to see Aragorn as king gives you a sense that everything is finally going to be okay in Middle Earth. It’s a very powerful moment, and a great illustration of the coming of Christ.

This week, we are finishing out our Saga series. The first week, we looked at all of the prophecy about the birth of Jesus, and last week, we looked at the response of Mary to the news that she was chosen to give birth to Him. This week, we are going to look at His actual birth, in a message that I’ve titled The Coming of the King. Tolkien once said b61e69cbdd1f322bd57284f0c4cbc60d“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. The story begins and ends in joy.” The word eucatastrophe comes from the Greek prefix eu, which means good, and then the word catastrophe, which means something life altering or life changing. What he is saying is that the birth of Christ was a good, life-changing event in our history. Tolkien interweaves his Christian faith into almost everything he writes. Sometime next year, we are actually going to do a series that will look at the Christian principles and Christ-like characters and characteristics that are found in the stories of Middle Earth, and I’m really excited about that.

Our text this week comes from Luke 2:1 – 21 (NIV). We’re going to do like we did a few weeks ago, and go through the whole text first, then come back and break it down and unpack it in smaller doses. So, starting in v.1, it says “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of of Syria.) NativityManger061121And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. The will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, angel-visits-the-shepherds‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.”

Now, I know there’s a lot there, so let’s go through and unpack everything in smaller chunks. There are four main things that we’re going to look at today, and the first one is this:

P1

Luke 2:1 – 3 (NIV) says received_2228657510710082“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” Luke is the only gospel writer who related the events he recorded to world history. His account was addressed to a predominantly Greek audience that would have been interested in and familiar with the political situation of those times. The Romans ruled Palestine, and Augustus, the first Roman emperor, was one of the greatest of all Roman rulers. He was a good administrator and was fastidious about the financial accounting of his empire. The census was taken to aid in military conscription or tax collection. Jews did not have to serve in the Roman army, but they did have to pay taxes. Augustus’s decree went out in God’s perfect timing and according to God’s perfect plan to bring his Son into the world. The people under Caesar’s rule didn’t have a choice about participating in the census. They all had to return to their hometowns to register. M52God controls all of history, and He uses people to accomplish His purpose. The decree helped accomplish God’s purpose by bringing Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 (NLT) says “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.”

Joseph and Mary travel the 90 miles to Bethlehem to take part in the census, which fulfilled the prophecy in Micah. Luke 2:4 – 7 (NIV) says received_587912368327304“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” There is some debate among scholars as to the exact year of Jesus’ birth. All we know for certain is that it was sometime between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C. Following the practice of the day, Mary wrapped the baby in strips of cloth to keep his arms and legs straight. Jesus’ first crib was a trough that was used primarily to feed animals. I love the symbolism here. Jesus’ life has such a humble beginning, and it really paints a picture for us of who Jesus is. The only place they could find for the King of Kings to sleep was a place where animals ate. This actually brings me to my next point, which is this:

P2

The next thing we read about in the scripture is that there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks nearby, and that an angel appeared to them to announce the good news. Luke 2:8 – 12 (NIV) says received_2046863448945363“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Shepherding had become a despised occupation by the time of Jesus’ birth. Many shepherds were accused of robbery and using land they had no right to. It was also a lonely occupation, especially at night. Shepherds would have to stand watch at night to ensure that their sheep were not lost to predators, and that they did not wander off. This is another way God shows His awesome humility, that He would even come to men such as this to make the announcement of the birth of Jesus.

The attention focuses then from the shepherds to the appearance of an angel of the Lord, and with the angel, the shining majesty of God’s glory. As with Zechariah and Mary, the shepherds were afraid at the sight of this. The angel tells them not to be afraid, for Gospel is coming. The word Gospel literally means good news. Gospel brings about joy, not fear. Joy is the inward feeling of happiness and contentment that bursts forth in rejoicing and praise. Joy comes to all people, and often in the most unlikely circumstances, as it did with the shepherds that night. God came to the most unlikely people, in the most unlikely circumstances, to wipe away the fears of the world and provide reason for joy that night. You see, joy is not something you earn or possess. It comes from God and His gift. A tiny baby in a feeding trough wouldn’t seem like much reason for joy, but Jesus was no ordinary baby. This particular baby held heaven’s greatest title in his tiny hands. Throughout his gospel, Luke uses the title Lord most often to refer to Jesus. This title refers to the holy, unspeakable personal name of God Himself. This baby in a manger was God in the flesh, with all the power and authority under heaven.

Luke 2:13 – 16 (NIV) saysreceived_994645514077683 “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” My next point is this:

P3

The angels came onto the scene where the shepherds were to announce the birth of Jesus and to praise God for all that He had done. God revealed His glory to the shepherds in a brilliance that they could recognize. Angels recognize the worth and weight of God’s presence and praise Him for it. Angelic presence does not last forever, though, and eventually, the shepherds have to decide whether or not to respond, and how they will respond. The same thing is true for us today. The salvation that Jesus offers us is available to everyone. Jesus did not just come to die for a few people. J1010John 10:10b (GNT) says “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all it’s fullness.” At some point, we have to make the choice.

When I was in school, there was a camp called Super Summer that was designed for students who were leaders in their youth groups. It was more than a church camp. It was a place you went to be challenged and stretched as a Christian, and as a leader. It was only a week long, but it was a week that I looked forward to all summer. The whole week was wonderful. One year, we had MercyMe there to lead worship, and there were always powerful speakers that would be there. It was an amazing time. The only problem was, at the end of the week, we always had to go back home. You see, it’s easy to live out your faith when you’re surrounded by people who share it. It’s easy to experience the glory of God when there are angels in front of you singing His praises, but eventually the angels leave, and you have to make the choice of what to do next. So, how would the shepherds respond? The answer is that they didn’t waste a second. They immediately went to Bethlehem to see the things they had been told about by the angel.

Luke 2:17 – 21 (NIV) says received_278838582987886“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.” My last point is this:

P4

Seeing the baby Jesus was not enough for the shepherds. They had to share the story of what they had seen. Everyone they met was told the story of the angels visiting them and singing songs of praise to God. They told everyone they encountered about the trip to the manger to see the baby Jesus, and the glory of God. Most importantly, they told everyone around them what they had been told about the child, and who He was. They had found in a manger the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord Himself. We are called to do the same. C.S. Lewis said 2152“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” We should be sharing the Gospel with everyone we come in contact with, not just in the Christmas season, but throughout the year. Jesus’ birth is worth telling everyone who can hear you about.

The Bible says that all who heard the news were amazed. The shepherds became Jesus’ first evangelists, and all who heard were surprised and astonished. The news that the shepherds brought soon spread all over Bethlehem, and everyone began talking about God’s mysterious surprise, which was made known only to a couple from Nazareth and a few lonely shepherds. The whole purpose of the Christmas season is to celebrate the king who came as a baby. Don’t let another Christmas go by without sharing the joy that comes from that good news. Let’s thank Him for that now.

Father
I thank You today that You sent Your Son into this world to be born a baby, and that He grew up to die for our sins. Father, I thank You that Jesus is the perfect example of love in a world that grows crazier and crazier by the day. I pray today for anyone who suffers with depression or loneliness in this season, for all who struggle with the loss of a loved one, or who have no one to call family this time of year. Surround them with Your great love, and give them peace over this season. Father, most of all, I thank You for being willing to send Your Son to die for our sins, and it’s in His Name I pray.
Amen

Next week will be the last message of the year, and it will be a message called Fix Our Eyes. FOEaoWe are going to take a look at Hebrews 12:1 – 3, and how we can go into the new year with our eyes fixed on Christ and what it means to run the race that He has set out for us. If you would like to talk to someone about your relationship with Christ, and what it means to follow Him, I invite you to reach out to us through a message or comment. Have a blessed week, and a Merry Christmas!!!!!

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