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Getting WHO We Need the Most at Christmas

Getting WHO We Need the Most at Christmas

Christ(mas) In the Prophets

December 23, 2018

 

In just a couple of days, millions of children all across America (and maybe the world) are going to be opening billions of dollars of gifts on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, Christmas Day and (if you life in Spain), 3 Kings Day (Jan. 6th). There will be lots of excited kids waking their parents up way too early, lots of noise, lots of torn paper, strewn ribbons and Christmas selfies. 

            But at the end of the day, there will also be disappointed children who didn’t get exactly what they were hoping for, stressed-out adults who bought more than they should have, drank more than they should have, argued with their relatives more than they should have and basically were disappointed with the day when it was all over. 

            It’s odd that a day which was meant to be all about life’s most important relationship has become way too much about things and expectations and even disappointments.   

            That’s why I decided to title this message, “Getting WHO We Need the Most at Christmas.”  As much as it is fun to get and give presents, aren’t the best Christmases those where we finish the day with great memories tucked away in our hearts and minds rather than boxes full of things stacked away in our closets?   

            Today I want us to get a fresh dose of WHO we need, not only this Christmas but every day of life we still have in front of us.  I want us to spend some time with that Person.  I want us to think about and be grateful for WHO that Person is.  And to do that, I want us to take two or three of the more pronounced pictures we have in the Minor Prophets of this gift of God himself to us. 

            I’m not going to give you a lecture or even a sermon today.  I’m going to invite you to engage God himself and a few passages about Him that will give you the opportunity to go through and come away from this Christmas with a heart that is deeply grateful and running over with the One relationship we all need this Christmas.

There are 3 different relationship roles that I want us to focus on today.  These are roles Jesus himself has towards us.  They are roles by which God himself relates with each of us at different times.  And they are roles the O.T. prophets predicted that the coming Messiah would fulfill in ways no other human being ever has or ever will fulfill. They are roles you and I need most, right now, this Christmas and every day and week of our lives. 

So let me introduce you to these three ROLES, these 3 GIFTS of God himself to us:

1.)  The Messiah, the Christ, as KING. 

2.)  The Messiah, the Christ, as SHEPHERD.

3.)  The Messiah, the Christ, as HUSBAND.

I’m going to divide you into groups for some of our time together.  In those groups, you are going to look at just 1 of those roles, 1 of those gifts that Jesus is to us. 

            What is interesting about these 3 roles or relationship gifts is that we find all 3 of them in the Nativity story too.  There was a husband, Joseph…some shepherds from around Bethlehem…and a king in Jerusalem.  But in that stable that amazing night, there was, in that lowly manger, the King of the universe, a Shepherd of the souls of mankind, and a Husband of Israel & the church through all ages. 

            So let me introduce you to the passages that talk about these 3 role-gifts we have in Jesus and then I will have you work in groups for a few minutes talking about why we need Him to be that to us and how He actually is that to us. 

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 1, we have 1 of the 2 extended accounts of the birth of Jesus.  The other one is in the Gospel of Luke.  Luke spends over 100 verses on this singular event.  Matthew spends just 36.  But both of them tie this one-of-a-kind historical event to prophecies that O.T. prophets had made about the coming Savior Messiah.

Mt. 2 tells us both about Jesus as SHEPHERD and Jesus as KING.   “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’

            This is a quote from the O.T. prophet Micah 5:2 & 4.  When the wicked King Herod heard about some celestial event that had attracted the attention of Magi or Wise Men all the way from the Far East, it caught his attention.  But when those same wise men asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” that caught the attention of his jealous ego.  So he grills all the Jewish religious leaders to find out if this might fit any of their prophecies.  And they point directly to Micah 5 which pointed directly to Bethlehem.

            Unlike the popularized notion of the wise men showing up at the manger, this probably occurred a year or two after the stable scene.  That’s why Herod shortly thereafter engaged in infanticide and slaughtered all the baby boys two and under in Bethlehem.  That’s also why Joseph, being warned in a dream to flee to Egypt to protect Jesus, did so apparently that very night of the dream. 

Regardless of all the drama, the Jewish religious leaders of the day clearly believed Micah had foretold of the Messiah as king, coming from Bethlehem.  And Herod clearly took Jewish prophecies very seriously…or at least the belief that they could shape the future of his rule. 

APP:  All of us, whether we recognize it or not, need a king.  We need a king to rule us as groups of people, states and nations.  Unfortunately, that rule will not come until Christ returns a second time and sets up his Millennial kingdom. 

            But we each need a king of our souls too.  If we’re not going to be governed by our selfish flesh or our godless culture or the spiritual forces of darkness, we need a king more powerful than all three of those.  But we need a king worthy of ruling with a character far better than ours.   

The kingship God offers us in the Christ could not be more different from every human king to ever rule over anyone on this earth.  Bowing our heart and soul before Jesus now is precisely what we need to prepare us for serving under Him for all eternity. 

APP:  Which is why SO many people refuse to acknowledge Him as their own Lord, Master and King now:  they don’t want anyone else running their lives…even if it is God and even if that God will do so in a way far better than they could ever run their own lives.  Rejection of Jesus is all about demanding control of one’s own life, even at the expense of destroying and losing one’s own life and eternity.   

So let’s take this role of KING and ask a couple of questions that we will ask of the other two roles (but in discussion groups). 

  • What kind of king is Jesus the Messiah?
  • How or in what ways do I need that kind of king in my life now?

Let’s read a couple of the passages in the O.T. prophets that prophecy about the kind of King Jesus will be and what He will do.  If your group gets this role in a few minutes, you will have other passages to look at too in order to draw up a more complete list of the kind of king He is and what He’ll do.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Jeremiah 23:5, 6

5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
    and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
    and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.

Daniel 7:13-14

13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Matthew 21:4,5

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Matthew 25:31-36, 41-43

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

Rev. 17:14-- They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Revelation 19:11-16

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  king of kings and lord of lords.

SHEPHERD

Now let me introduce you to the second snapshot or image of our Savior in the prophets.  It’s actually stated in this passage out of Micah too.  Notice the last phrase, “…who will shepherd my people Israel.” Before we talk about the Messiah as shepherd and more personally as our shepherd, just note something.

            The contrast could not have been more abrupt between this baby who would rule by love in millions of hearts and this maniacal Roman king who ruled by terror, infanticide, brutality and brute force the town of Bethlehem. The one who would rule by love was a real shepherd of people; the one who ruled by terror was the farthest thing from a shepherd.

Just remember, putting a shepherd and a ruler king in the same sentence was like putting a janitor and a CEO in the same office

  • One was at the top of the social heap and the other was at the bottom.
  • One was at the top of the economic ladder and the other was reaching for the first rung of the ladder.
  • One smelled like expensive cologne and the other smelled like stinky sheep.
  • One calmed sheep; the other terrorized people.

The difference between then-king and then-shepherd could not have been greater. But our King is quite comfortable being our Shepherd at the same time.

The questions remain the same:

  • What kind of shepherd is Jesus, this Messiah?
  • How or in what ways do I need that kind of shepherd in my life now?

Those are the 2 questions several of you will talk about in your groups in just a moment. 

Listen to some of the prophets speak about this predicted national and personal Shepherd.

Isaiah 40:11

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.

Psalm 23:1-3

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

John 10:10-18

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Now we come to one final role that the O.T. prophets saw the Messiah fulfilling and the N.T. Apostles further elaborated on: 

HUSBAND:

The unsung hero of the Nativity story has got to be Joseph.  He’s the already-husband.  He and Mary had already been “betrothed.”  They had effectively “tied the knot” legally in that culture which meant that untying it would have required a divorce decree.  They hadn’t consummated the marriage sexually and they weren’t living together in the same residence either. 

So when Mary shows up pregnant prior to the public wedding feast and ceremony, it took an angel to convince Joseph that this pregnancy was truly miraculous and that this birth would be a once-in-human-history event in so many amazing ways. 

            Men, how difficult do you suppose it was for Joseph to have everyone think you were taking Mary into your home because you had gotten her pregnant out of wedlock?  And how easy was it to live either trying to defend your wife’s honor and a truth that nobody was going to buy--of a virgin conceiving by the Holy Spirit. Just what would you respond when people asked “What happened?”  How many times would you simply have to endure false judgmental comments and critical stares?   

Joseph is a husband of extraordinary patience, love, courage, kindness and faith.  He graciously learned to give up all his dreams and plans, let go of his business in Nazareth, become a refugee in Egypt with his new wife and little boy, and be the human husband needed to raise the divine Husband of the church. 

            In the O.T. prophetic book of Hosea you will remember that God told Hosea to marry a “promiscuous woman.”  While there is no parallel between Hosea’s wife, Gomer, and Joseph’s wife, Mary, there are similar qualities of these two good men, two good husbands, Joseph and Hosea. 

Hosea’s relationship with Gomer was to be a living, visual illustration of what Israel was like in relationships to God.  From God’s perspective, it was a sad relationship.  But from the vantage point of humanity, it was an amazing display of God’s love, forgiveness, grace and patience with Israel…and us, his wayward people. 

Hosea was to the husband that wasn’t deserved by his wife.  He would experience the heartbreak of a wife who loved other men, abandoned him, chasing after those men.  He would have to live with the stares, the whispers, the shaming of people who didn’t have half the heart he did for his wife.  Hosea would be called upon to demonstrate the patient, pursuing love of God as His people’s husband…just as Christ himself patiently pursues and forgives us, His often wayward Bride, the church. 

So let’s read about not only the kind of husband God will be to Israel but the kind of husband Christ is to us, His church.  Don’t let these promises lie on some dusty shelf you think applies only to Israel.  Let them sink into our souls as we personalize these promises and realize that God is talking about US!

Here again are the two questions for those who study these passages related to how Jesus is a husband to us, the church.

  • What kind of husband is Jesus the Messiah to His people?
  • How or in what ways do I need that kind of divine Husband in my life now?

Isaiah 62:4-5

It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken," Nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate"; But you will be called, "My delight is in her," And your land, "Married"; For the LORD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.

Hosea 2:14-23

14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’;
    you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
    no longer will their names be invoked.
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
    with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
    and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
    I will abolish from the land,
    so that all may lie down in safety.
19 I will betroth you to me forever;
    I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
    in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
    and you will acknowledge the Lord.

21 “In that day I will respond,”
    declares the Lord
“I will respond to the skies,
    and they will respond to the earth;
22 and the earth will respond to the grain,
    the new wine and the olive oil,
    and they will respond to Jezreel.
23 I will plant her for myself in the land;
    I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;
    and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

Hosea 3:1-3

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”

Ephesians 5:25-32

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 

So we come back to the title of today’s message:  “Getting WHO We Need the Most”…not just at Christmas but every day of the year. 

WHICH ROLE do you need Jesus to take most in your life right now?

1.)  KING: the Almighty, truly Just, Benevolent, Strong, King and Ruler of your life?  Do you need him to triumph over evil in your soulReign over the unruly and sinfully destructive desire of your flesh?  Do you need the Messiah who will fight for true justice as you live in an unjust world?  What about your life and soul needs to bow in submission to the best King that will ever rule in this world and entire universe?  Will you do that right now?

2.SHEPHERD:  Do you need a shepherd who has a protective rod and staff?  A shepherd who will rescue you from falling off the cliff of wandering off on your own?  Who will lead you into places of green pasture and still waters?  Who will restore your soul?  Do you need Someone to shepherd you into a life of righteousness and right living?  Do you need a shepherd who has laid down his life for you? Shed his own blood to rescue you?  Facing a dark valley… even death?  Jesus Christ has walked that way already and knows how to carry you through it.  Do you just need to be carried ‘close to His heart’ today?

3.)  HUSBAND:  Are you looking for the One Being who will not abandon you?  Who will make a covenant-commitment to you to love you no matter how messed up you may be or get?  Do you desire One who will love you sacrificially, pursue you patiently and restore you gently?  Does your soul hunger for that Someone who will know you more intimately than any human being can and accept you as you are, all the while helping you grow to all you can be?  Jesus is that Promise-Making, Covenant-Keeping Spouse.  Single or married, isn’t this the forever soul-mate we are all hungry for? 

King…Shepherd…Husband:  which one do you need most this Christmas?  This coming year?  This season of your life?  Won’t you make room for Him in your life today? 

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