Christmas Part 2
Luke 2 1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman
Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral
towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in
Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to
whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
Matthew 2 1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men (or
royal astrologers; magi) from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We
saw his star in the east. and we have come to worship him.” 3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as
was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is
the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6‘And you,
O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will
be the shepherd for my people Israel. (Micah 5:2) 7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he
learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for
the child. And when you find him, come back, and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 9 After this interview
the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and
stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star they were filled with joy! 11They entered the
house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their
treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their
own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
1 st century got something we didn’t:
-SLIDE A king was born
-and it was and is an upside-down others-first kingdom,
-and we can participate in this kingdom.
-Here and now.
-Kingdom of conscience.
-That is to move every person, language, nation and generation in the world, so that there would be a new sort of
kingdom modeled by a new kind of king.
-It’s undeniable. People who participated back then are the reason we know to celebrate Christmas now.
Caesar wanted a census – at your home of birth. It wasn’t Christmas – it was chaos. But in the midst a child was born.
Not a religious figure, not just a Savior from sin. A king. Hundreds of miles away there was a group of men who looked
for messages in the stars. They identified a new star and thru their studies they identified it as a sign of new king, a new
Jewish king was born.
SLIDE But Israel already had a king – Herod
They came to meet the child in Jerusalem. The maji came from the east. He must be there. They asked thinking everyone
would know what they were talking about. They thought everyone would know. No one did. We saw his star and came
to worship him! But the Jews had a king, Herod. He heard and was disturbed. It was written in the sky! He planned for
his children to take over. If there’s a new king, told from the sky, this was not good news. The birther of a king meant
civil unrest. The birth of a king meant civil war. It was a threat to his legacy.
SLIDE Herod knew Christ (Messiah) was not a name. It was a title!
He calls in the Jewish leaders. Where is the messiah to be born. Big deal, told by the stars. HEROD has a feeling this is
God’s anointed king from scripture. Herod knew Christ (Messiah) is not a name is not not a label, It’s a title. King, God’s
anointed final king. Herod knew his dynasty would be threatened. Where will he be born? Just six miles form here –
Bethlehem. This is what Micah says. Quote it. What do I do? This has been prophesied.
SLIDE Ah, but Herod was a planner.
He called the Maji in. When did the star appear? Herod was a planner. He’d won the favor of Rome. What is this king’s
age. He acknowledged he broke Jewish law. He had no problem with doing the Jewish things – sacrifice, temple, etc, he
even rebuilt the temple. His own wealth plus taxes. He had no problem with the ritual. I’ve sinned. I’ll go there for
forgiveness of sin. BUT SLIDE Submit myself? Bow my knee to another king? Another ruler? Never.
-That’s where we are. As long as religion is religion, and my job is my job.
-Heaven’s out there somewhere and I hope it all works out.
-In the meantime, this is how I’ll live my life, this is how I’ll make my decisions.
-There we are. Attempting to keep heaven and earth separated. Conveniently.
SLIDE This was and is no longer an option. The king had come.
Who invited everyone to participate in this unusual kingdom.
SLIDE Herod’s plan
Herod asks them to report back after they visit the child. 6 miles to Bethlehem. The star went ahead of them and stopped
over the house. They saw the child. They bowed to a child and worshipped him. Bowed to a king, worshipped a god.
Because God had come to dwell among us.
SLIDE What was God up to?
Jesus came to demonstrate what God was like. John – all grace and all truth all the time. He said things awkward,
penetrating, love personified. “God is love.” SLIDE It was as if God inhabited a body. Heaven came to earth. A king
who would reverse the order of things. Kingdom – others first. People with more power and resources would leverage it
for people with less power and resources. Everything was backwards, upside down. Having been warned in a dream. . .
SLIDE Herod ruins Christmas
Herod was furious. Why would he ruin the Christmas story? It wasn’t a Christmas story, this is the story of the birth of a
king. Kingdom of God and Kingdom of man came into conflict and always will, because God sent his son to establish a
different kind of kingdom. Kill all the boys in Bethlehem Sire??, the entire vicinity Sire??, two and under.
SLIDE This Might Be For You
Bad things have been happening to good people, innocent people for a very long time. Ever since sin entered the world.
Maybe the part you need to hear. Our faith does not require us to look away from cruelty and injustice. Suffering. It I
part of the story, woven in from the very beginning. At the end of Jesus life, the worst possible thing happened to the best
possible person. Jesus cruxifiction. We don’t have to look away. All the bad and injustice we see is a reminder of why
God sent his son, he didn’t send someone just to save us from sin, he sent a king to instruct us in a different way of living.
It's the reason we have Christmas. Herod become a footnote in the story of a king.
Its like God tried to secret Jesus into the world. Except for the Magi, only a few people would know.
SLIDE Forty years later
It would be 40 years people would know widely about Jesus and his kingdom
300 miles north in Syria, Antioch a great city, a new term is coined. A new political movement. Greeks and Romans
were choosing allegiance to a new king, a Christos. This was disturbing on several levels. They crucified this person 10
years ago. This god/king didn’t require sacrifices. This king came to earth to be the final sacrifice. This king required
allegiance, obedience. In that time the gods (little g) didn’t care who was king or how you behaved, they wanted those
blood sacrifices. The kings didn’t care for the most part who you worshipped, they wanted your allegiance and taxes.
“Worship your gods but obey Caesar.” In Antioch – there was a group where this didn’t work anymore. The divine and
secular collided. They came together in the person of Jesus. A Jewish rabbi. Don’t miss this: Citizens were changing
their allegiance to a king that invited them into a different way of living. The upside kingdom of God.
SLIDE Markers of this new Kingdom
They would give and not expect back, they would loan and not expect back. They would give to people they knew
couldn’t give back and consider it a virtue. They took oaths not to commit fraud, theft, adultery. They committed to carry
one another’s burdens. To forgive the people that offended and harmed them. They would get up on the first day of the
week, a workday, and meet in gardens and homes before work and instead of making sacrifices, they’d sing songs of
gratitude because the King was their sacrifice. The final sacrifice. They ignored cultural distinctions. The was no
hierarchy. Males and females came together to worship. Not slaves and free. They called each other brothers and sisters.
This proved to be disruptive.
Slide: Later, Peter discussed these people
As followers of this new King, you are now joint heirs of this new kingdom. No distinction.
But, they were sure that their king said to submit to the current governing authorities. Their king had done that. He let
them arrest him. And be given to his enemies, and God his Father raised him from the dead.
This was a revolution. In this city the name was given, or they were accused of, being Christians. They were branded to
distinguish them from Jupiterians or Marsians, and it was clearly Latin political terminology. Someone who followed
Christ. It would become a crime, not because of who they believed but because of who chose to obey.
Slide: Back to Herod – He was smart, but . . .
Herod got this. That’s why he killed the children. The magi came and they chose to worship. And over time people heard
it. They didn’t just believe. They followed and participated. Not just the forgiver of sins. He was the king. He was the
intersection of heaven and earth. He was God personified. Herod had tried to put a stop to it, but, he didn’t succeed.
SLIDE: The Question
The question: Every morning of every day. SLIDE Is Jesus the King? Is he your king? Is he my king?
Forgiven people didn’t change the world. The forgivers changed the world.
The followers changed the world.
The participants changed the world.
The Christians elevated children, women and slaves.
Everything was made equal at the foot of the cross.
These people had a holy discontent for the way things were – and the world was changed!
Everywhere these people went the world became a better place. Because they embraced the kingdom of God.
Slide: Do you want to change Hot Springs?
Want to change Hot Springs? Make it great, a city set on a hill?
Are we willing to do what’s necessary?
Have an allegiance to the KING and reverse the nature of things?
John: At crucifixion, stood by Mary, then as an old man summing it up: He was the light of the whole world. His light
shone in the darkness. Peter might have been dead when this was written, temple destroyed – not sure but these were dark
times. Bur, light shines in the darkness and the light overcomes the darkness.
The day after Christmas was just the beginning.
Is he your king? He’s invited you to bow, follow, participate. The kingdom come to earth. Everlisting never ending.
Why do we close up our hands and hearts, judge, not listen. Why can’t we just love.
Not my will but thy will – scary? Let’s drop our defenses.
The King says do this to change our city: SLIDE Love one another as I have loved you.