My Grandad was a Methodist minister and years and years ago he went to be superintendent in Liverpool. Upon arrival the local press came round for an interview and talked for a couple of hours about what my Grandad hoped to do and how he planned to reach out into the community. At one point the journalist said to him, “and of course as a Methodist, you won’t drink or smoke.” And my Grandad said, “Well actually I do both.” Just five words … “Well actually I do both.”
To put this in context, he used to smoke a pipe on a Saturday, that’s one pipe, and enjoyed brewing his own wine, I’ve never saw him drink much. The next day, the headline in the local paper was ‘New Methodist minister Confesses to Drinking and Smoking.’ That was the headline! Try and recover from that!
The journalist had completely got the wrong point. I mean obviously he went for the sensationalist headline … surprise, surprise. But he missed the main story, he missed the real headline. Unfortunately, the Christmas story seems to suffer from the same press! We consistently miss the headline.
You’ll be familiar with the story. But to truly understand the headline you have to understand where it comes in the context of the whole of scripture. Now I would love to take you right back to Genesis, talk about how two people were put in a perfect place, under God’s loving rule and how they stuffed it up. How right there in Genesis 3 it’s promised to Eve, “one of your offspring will crush the head of the serpent underneath their heal”.
I’d like to take you to Genesis 12, where Abraham is told, “One of your descendant will be a blessing to all the nations”. To Gen 17 where he’s told kings will be some of your descendants. I’d like to take you to Isaac, to Jacob, to Moses, but I don’t have time so I’m going to skip all the way to David.
So 2 Sam 7: 11-16, God is talking to David. David is King of Israel, and God’s making David some promises.
” ‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me [b] ; your throne will be established forever.’ “
This is the promise to David, about 900 years before the birth of Jesus. He’s told, “One of your offspring David is going to have a kingdom, he’s also going to build my temple (no time to explain that today, but feel free to read my MPhil!) and that kingdom will last forever. That offspring is going to have a special relationship with God, he’s actually going to be called God’s son” Wow!,
Written at roughly the same time, Psalm 89:26-28. Again this is talking about this offspring of David, it says:
26 He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, the Rock my Saviour.’
27 I will also appoint him my firstborn,
the most exalted of the kings of the earth.
28 I will maintain my love to him forever,
and my covenant with him will never fail
So again we’ve got that he’s going to call God, “father”. Again we’ve got the promise that this blessing is going to carry on forever. But now this offspring is not only God’s son, he’s God’s first-born son. Which means he’s the most important son. He’s the inheritor son, when the father dies it’s the first born son who inherits everything. So he’s the most important son. As well as that, he’s not only just a king, he’s not only got a kingdom, but he’s the most exalted king, he’s the king of kings.
Now skip 200 years into the future with me. Now we’re in Isaiah 9:6-7, which was written approximately 200 years later that are pervious passages (although people do argue about the exact date)
6 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 Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase 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.
Isaiah is actually writing at a time when David’s throne is, well, not good! The kings are “scummy”. In fact they’re pretty much all terrible. The country has split into two. With Israel in the North and Judah in the south. So, from a human point of view, it looks like these promises are going downhill, but Isaiah says, categorically, “NO. There’s still going to be an offspring of David. He’s still going to reign forever. He’s going to reign from birth, if not before. He’s not only going to be called God’s son, but he’s actually going to be called ‘Mighty God’ himself. He will be called ‘Wounderful counsellor, mighty God’. And it’s not just going to be any old kingdom, this is going to be a kingdom of justice, of righteous, of peace. This is going to be a perfect kingdom”.
Now (I hope you’re still with me!) we jump another 200 years in the future. We’re now 400 years after the promise to David, 200 years after Isaiah, and we’re looking at Dan 7:13-14. Amazingly, as Daniel writes (or arguably anyway!) there is no kingdom at all. Daniel is writing in exile. Israel, the northern kingdom, was wiped out ages ago. Judah has just been ransack by Babylon. There is no kingdom. There is no throne. But what does Daniel say?
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 peoples, nations and men 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
Yet again we’ve got that this kingdom is never going to end. But he’s not only God’s son, but he’s also going to be called ‘Son of Man’. We’ve got that he’s not only king, not only king of king’s, but not he’s actually the king of everything: the whole world is under his dominion. And not only is he going to be king, but he’s going to be worshiped. He’s going to be worshiped by everyone. Not just Israel … but people of every tribe, nation and tongue. He’s going to be worshiped by everyone.
So, this promised offspring of David is going to be a king. He’s going to be a king of an eternal kingdom, that will encompass the whole world. A kingdom of justice, righteousness and peace. He’s also going to be called God’s son. His first-born son. His inheritor son. He’s even going to be called God himself. He will be worshiped by all the nations. As well as being the “Son of God”, he’s also going to be called the “Son of man”.
Keep all that in your head and skip 500 more years in the future with me, to Luke chapter 1 and lets look at the Christmas story again:
26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.
Isn’t the headline obvious? The headline is, “He’s here. He’s arrived. You’ve been waiting for hundreds, thousands of years and he’s here! The offspring of David has arrived, THE KING IS HERE.” THAT’S LUKE’S BIG MESSAGE.
The whole of Luke chapter 1 does this. Immediately following is Mary’s “magnificent”, which again does this. Then Luke has Zacharias Song, or the “Benedictus” as it’s sometimes called. This is his message for the whole of the chapter. Luke’s message is, “The king has arrived. The offspring of David, who will reign on an everlasting throne, is here. The one who’s dominion will encompass the whole world, is here. The one who is both Son of God and Son of Man, is here”. That’s the message of Luke, that is what he’s trying to get through here.
Jesus is our king and we owe him our allegiance today. Luke’s message to his contemporaries would have been “Caesar isn’t king, Jesus is”. And so the message I proclaim to you today is, David Cameron is not our true leader, Barack Obama is not the most powerful man in the world, JESUS IS.
Jesus is king. We are his followers. We are his citizens, of a kingdom that has already started and will reign on to eternity. JESUS IS KING, that’s the real headline.
(Most of this is take from an old sermon of mine, which you can find on the sermon page. But I promised some I would give a Christmas day message and I ran out of time to write something from scratch. But, it’s still true! Praise Jesus the King, the promised one has come to us today)