3Kings - King of Cities

December 11, 2011 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: 3Kings

Passage: Isaiah 9:6–9:7

 

Christmas Series: 3 Kings – What, How, Who will you worship?  

 

Introduction

Good Morning! We are in the season of Advent her at Damascus
Road where we take a break from our normal patterns of life. More than just
cheap calendars with horrible chocolate, Advent is a time in the historic
church calendar of both anticipation and preparation for the celebration of the
incarnation of King Baby Jesus on Christmas. To that end, our hope is the next
three weeks of sermons we will challenge What, How and Who will worship?  We’ve called this series “3 Kings”, not because of the popular misconception that wise men
were the “We 3 kings of Orient are” (more on them later) We’re going to look at
the Christmas Story, the meaning and responses of the arrival of Jesus, from
the perspective three different “Kings”


  • King of the Cites – Herod (What kingdom will you
    worship?)

  • King of the Fields- Shepard’s (How will you
    worship the King?)

  • King of Kings- Jesus (Who will you worship?)

We’ll be spending most of our time this morning in (Matthew
2/Isaiah 9:6-7) Before we get there we’ve got to work through some history and
world view to more fully understand the significance of Jesus birth.  The Christmas story, isn’t like Santa, Elves,
and a magical north pole village. Regardless of what you think of Jesus he was
a man born in a real time, real place that that real implications for those
around him and for us today. Since the Incarnation, God becoming a man an entering
human history, is in the middle of the Bible and happened over 2000 years ago,
we should probably start In the
beginning….

Fall, Promise, Anticipation

The Bible begins with God creating everything, including
people, good and perfect with him as their King/God. Our first parents rejected
God as King, choosing the lie that they could build their own kingdom without
God. They are exiled from God’s Garden Kingdom to the dark broken world. Not
without hope, God make’s a promise to the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
that they will become a kingdom and from their family will come a savoir King
who will bless ALL the nations/kingdoms of the world. By God’s grace, Israel
become a kingdom reaching its perceived height under King David and Solomon,

before the people continue to choose to serve themselves rather than God. The
kingdom crumbles and is scattered into brutal exile.  The rest OT is a several hundred year season
of advent where God’s people anticipate and prepare for the arrival of the
Savior Messiah King who will shine light into their dark world. God through,
several prophets, repeatedly reminds His people to repent of serving their
false kingdoms and return as loyal subjects of the Creator King of the universe
while giving them specific prophesies to verify who this King would be. We’ll
see in Matthew, the Gospel written to the Jews, that he repeatedly points out
aspects of Jesus life that are specific to OT prophecies to show that Jesus is
not just “good teacher/leader” but is the Savior King God’s people have been
hoping for.

History of Herod

It’s in this long season of OT Advent, that see the rise of
the Roman Republic as the preeminent government spreading across Europe, into
Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. A half Century before the birth of Jesus,
Julius Caesar turned Rome into a dictatorship by a series of political and
military victories. Julius was famously murdered and was succeed by his adopted
son Octavius who continuing in his predecessors work became the first Roman
Emperor, Caesar Augustus. Augustus though so highly of himself and his
“kingdom” he officially named Julius as “one of the Gods” so he could be
referred to as the “son of God”. Through military victories he ushered in a
period of “Roman Peace” so he was also referred to as the “Prince of Peace”.

It’s during this consolidation of Roman power and territory
that the wealth Herod (half Jew/Half Edomite) made “accommodations”(bribes) to
Augustus to be officially named “King of the Jews” by Caesar and the Roman
Senate. Since Rome didn’t control Judea/Jerusalem,  they spent 2-3 years of war to conquer it,
place many of it’s people into slavery, and ordain Herod as a “client king”
essentially making him an enthusiastic puppet of Rome. He regularly
killed/exiled rivals, rabbis, and even family members for political gain. He
put his face and mark on all the money. He was a builder. He built dozens of
fortresses, palaces and walled cities, major ports and even three temples
dedicated to the worship of “king/god” Caesar Augustus. Herod, and his crew the
Herodians, where notoriously decadent, embarrassingly amoral, pleasure seekers.  Being a brutal, Roman worshiping, half-breed,
with loose morals, who sold out his people to be part of the cool kids table,
didn’t make him too popular with religious Jews. To help maintain his Jewish
credibility he rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. To erase any doubt what kingdom
he served, it’s believed he had his name stamped on many of the building stones
and it’s known he placed a golden Roman Eagle over temples main entrance. This
was a dark time for God’s people, they had an ungodly “king” who claimed to
serve both “the son of god” and the God of the Bible, and they lived under “the
prince of peace” in a state of slavery and poverty. Augustus orders a census to
further increase their tax burden.  Outside
Jerusalem, in a barn in a backwater town, a single teenage girl gives birth to
a baby boy who would turn the world upside down.

Herod’s Fear (Matt 2:1-8)

Jesus birth was a non-event to Herod, and the ruling class
in Jerusalem, until the Magi/Wise men arrive to investigate some astrological
event. They ask everyone they could, where is the one who is “born” King of the
Jews. Knowingly or not, by asking for the king by birth, and revering to a
divine event from the heavens, the wise men were directly challenging the
legitimacy of Herod as “king of the Jews”. Verse three says he, and all of
Jerusalem was “troubled”. This is a pretty tame translation because the greek
word tarasso individually means terrified/disturbed, and in the context
of a group means to cause a riot. Even
after over 30 years of rule, Herod was insecure and paranoid and feared
anything that would undermine the kingdom he had bought and built . He now he
likely had repressed, desperate people rioting in the streets against him,
hoping for a new king. If Herod wasn’t so calculating, he likely would have had
the wise men killed. Instead, ignorant of the Jewish scriptures,  he asks the religious leaders where prophets
said the Christ/Savior king would be born and they answer him from Micah and
Ezekiel that the King would be from Bethlehem and would “Shephard” God’s
people. Shepherd was a term of loving benevolence and care. This had to
frighten him even more. Herod, had political, financial, and military power
over the Jews, and they despised him for it. This new king would be followed
not out of fear, even necessity but because he would have the one thing Herod
lacked, their willing hearts. He has to know his days as “King of the Jews are
numbered, but in fear sent to wise men to investigate this claim under false
pretense. He may fear God, but he doesn’t desire to worship him. His religious
experts, the priest and scribes aren’t much better. They, concluded the
messiah would come from Bethlehem, but none bothered to make the short trip.
It’s only 5-6 miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and Herod had even built a
fortress 2 miles away from Bethehem. 
Most of us go farther to get to a Costco and they wouldn’t travel that
far to investigate the fulfillment of all they claim to believe in.

Wise Men’s Joy (Matt 2:9-12)

They followed the sign God had given them and after likely
years of studying, months of traveling this grand procession of wealthy,
connected, foreign leaders, arrives, not to the stable of an inn, but to the
modest house of a carpenter in humble, sleepy town of Bethlehem.  They had been expectedly seeking a new king
and found an 18 month old being raised buy a young poor family. Honestly, you
or I would likely been really disappointed and I am surprised the wise guys
were not. They had to have had some expectations for what they would encounter
at the end of their and this couldn’t have been it.  Yet they had such great confidence in what
God had revealed to them that despite all appearances to the contrary they fell
down and worshipped, un potty trained, toddler Jesus with “great joy”.

Their response to Jesus is convicting in to me, because
their pursuit, thier joy, their worship, and there giving, puts mine to
shame.  Most of us, myself included, who
profess faith in God/Jesus praise him for what he’s done for us/to us. We give
to him, serve him, and worship him for what we expect or hope he’ll do for us
in this life and/or the next. For some of us those are material things health,
wealth, protection and for the more “spiritual” of us it’s for his forgiveness
of our sin, his sustenance and presence in our times of trials,  and the promise of a New Heaven and Earth
where there is no more tears. From the perspective of the wise men, Jesus hadn’t
freed him from addiction, he hadn’t helped them achieve their goals of wealth/career/self-fulfillment,
he hadn’t cured them of disease, given them a spouse/kids, he hadn’t even died
on the cross for their sins or promised them eternal life. Up to this point he
hadn’t “given” them anything; in fact they came with gifts for him. They were
joyful, and they worshipped him, because of who he was, because he is the King,
because He is God. Simply put, for them, Jesus was enough; enough to leave
their comfortable courts of the Kings they served to pursue him, enough for
them to fall to their knees in willing, joyfully submit to worship; enough to
generously give of their personal wealth and possessions without expectations
of anything in return. Is Jesus enough for you?

As convicting as the wise men’s joyful response to Jesus
should be, it’s Herod’s response we should find particularly chilling and
challenging.

Herod’s Response (Matt 2:13-18)

When Herod is betrayed and mocked by the Jesus loving wise
guys he orders the violent slaughter of all the male babies in and around
Bethlehem in a desperate attempt to protect his man made kingdom. Merry
Christmas!  By God’s choreography,
toddler Jesus is taken by his adopted father to safety in Egypt, but the heart
of Herod’s actions remains. When his authority is challenged, when his position
is disrespected, and when he believes his kingdom is threatened, Herod becomes irrational,
hostel, and even violent towards God’s rule and plan for redemption.

While we should rightly find Herod ordering the killing of
20 or even 100 babies repulsive is our society much different? Every year in
America 1.4 million babies are aborted, that’s 3,400 every day. Depending on
when you believe life begins you can argue that unborn children aren’t the same
as newborns and toddlers. But I would assert Herod’s actions against parallel modern
abortion. Infant mortality rates were exceedingly high in the first century to
the point many societies wouldn’t even give their born children names until after
their second birthday to avoid emotional attachment. A toddler then had the
same helpless and fragile position in society a fetus has in ours. Today, in
our country the infant mortality rate is less the one percent, our unborn
children have an astronomically higher chance at life than their
infants/toddlers.  Herod reacted the way
he did because he believed he could get away with it. Murder was a big part of
the culture of his kingdom so ordering the killing of dozens of likely unnamed
babies in a nowhere town merited the same new coverage any average day at any
Planned Parenthood in any small town. Sure there they may have been some
protest and tears shed by those who knew and cared about the families, but it
was the order of the king and the law of the land. I make this comparison not
be unnecessarily shocking or flippant but to help us understand that the ways
we react to God, in our eyes, unexpectedly asserting Himself in to our kingdoms
is not dissimilar Herod’s reaction.  I believe
the difference is only a factor of Herod’s means relative to our own.

Our Kingdoms

This may be uncomfortable. If God’s word is to have any
transformative impact our lives we have to be able to see ourselves in the
story. Unless you adopted God you’re not Joseph, we’re not the wise men, and
we’re certainly not Jesus.  We are all
Herod. While not always as extreme as Herod how we, define, seek, build and
protect our kingdoms is often no less tragic. 

Fundamentally Flawed- Herod
believed the lie that he could, reject God’s kingdom and rule and be his own
king a part from God. Our lives/kingdoms are built on the same flawed
foundation of “independence”. It’s called sin, and it slowly/quickly destroys
everything we built on top of it. What
foundation have you built your life on?

Fake Façade – Herod
bought and borrowed his kingdom from Rome so he could have the false image of
being greater than he actually was. He spent and spent, built and built but
none of it was real as it wasn’t his to begin with. We borrow for our homes, for
our cars, our businesses, for our wardrobe, our Christmas presents to what end?
Who are you trying to impress with your
kingdom? Is it real?

Fractured- Behind
the appearance of a unified kingdom, there was tremendous turmoil and conflict
in Jewish society and dissatisfaction with the king because he saw his subjects
as a means to an end. Herod even disposed of his family when necessary so
people only had value in his eyes in what they could do for him.  Our relationships are fractured because most
of us act functionally as if we’re a king and others exist to serve us. Those
we believe should serve us believe the opposite so our relationships are
broken. Who are you treating as a
subject? What relationships have you discarded after you used them? 

Fickle and Fleeting -
s

Fear – Like Herod
we rule our kingdoms from fear and with fear. What are you afraid of losing if your kingdom falls?

 

We put ourselves in a false season of Advent were we’re
preparing and anticipating the next phase of our kingdom expecting that will
bring us an extended period of fullness but instead we end up empty and the
conflict with ourselves, others, and God resumes as we continue to seek our own
kingdom.  In the end our kingdoms create
no peace on earth and no good will towards men, only greater conflict, an. And
yet there is hope, there is Good News.

 

Jesus Kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Gospel/Good News is the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Chris isn’t Jesus last name, it’s his title meaning
“anointed one/messiah”

Four Royal names express his divine and human qualities:

            Wonderful Counselor, (beyond Understanding
in Judges 13:18

Mighty
God –
As a warrior, God protects His people.

            Everlasting Father – The Father and King
cares for His subjects

            Prince of Peace – His government brings
peace, through victory over sin/evil.

Jesus is more than just our savior and sacrifice. If Jesus
only had to die for our sins God could have simply let him be killed by Herod.
More than, not less than, a savoir Jesus come to destroy our false kingdoms and
re-establish God’s rule over all creation down to every aspect of our life. For
Christians Jesus has to be both our savior and our king.

Benediction

Philippians 2:1-10

More in 3Kings

December 24, 2011

3Kings - King of Kings

December 18, 2011

3Kings - King of Fields