Born a Child and Yet a King
40/99 19/12/99 Scripture: Matthew 2:1-8
FROM the time of His birth people called Jesus King, even those who did not believe in Him. At His birth wise men came saying "Where is he who is born King of the Jews?" At the temptations even the Devil said, "Bow down and worship me and all the Kingdoms of the world will be yours." When He fed the five thousand people, they all "wanted to make Him king." The mother of James and John asked Jesus "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." When He rode the donkey into Jerusalem, people shouted out: "Behold, your King comes." When the priests arrested Jesus they charged Him with being a King. The soldiers mocked Him as a King by putting a royal robe on his shoulders, a reed in his hand and a crown of thorns on His head. The crowds before Pilate's Palace rejected him crying out to win favour with the Roman, "We have no king but Caesar." He was nailed to a cross with a plaque over his head which stated, "Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews." He was taunted on the cross by the words "If you are a King come down from the Cross." He was accepted by the thief beside Him who said, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your Kingly power."
Here was Jesus, in the words of the old Christmas hymn: "Born, thy people to deliver, Born a child, and yet a king."
Some Christians hail Jesus as King in Church, but reject the concept of the monarchy for Australia. They are Sunday monarchists and Monday republicans. Worship has monarchist overtones. The language is of Jesus as king and of the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Yet in our daily lives many of us talk of being citizens of a republic.
Some have re-written the scriptures to make them gender correct so as not to offend women. Now someone will remove the monarchical symbolism of kings, lords, thrones, courts, crowns, and build the biblical narratives into the politically correct republic with an popularly elected president!
There are 94 scripture references to Jesus as King. There is no mention of election, of other candidates or a minimalist republican position! The scriptures simply declare that Jesus is King and He reigns and will reign forever. "King of kings and Lord of lords". What are we to make of this One born a child and yet a King?
The apostles logically argued that Jesus was King through using the prophecies in the Old Testament. These were known to all Jews. They looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. They argued from each one how Jesus, and only Jesus was the fulfilment of the prophecies. There were none that He did not fulfil. Only He fulfilled them all. Let me tonight teach a little about prophecy, answer some of the sceptics' questions, and show how relevant are the prophecies to Christmas and to Jesus born a King. Most of the prophecies dealt with the events in the life of Jesus, but there are twelve which specifically deal with His birth.
1. WHAT PROPHECIES CONCERN JESUS CHRIST?
There are 332 references in the Old Testament prophecies written at least 450 years before the birth of Jesus concerning His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection. "But", says the sceptic, "how can we be sure that all of these were in fact written before the birth of Jesus? Could they not have been written after the life of Jesus?"
The Old Testament was completed 450 years before His birth in Hebrew, and translated into Greek 250BC. Copies of that translation made 250 years before His birth are still in existence today bearing those same prophecies! "Well," says the sceptic, "would it not be possible for Jesus to have so learnt the prophecies that He arranged His life so they seemed to be fulfilled?" Nice argument! But many of those prophecies involved other people, including people before His birth, including people of other races, cultures and languages who had not heard of the prophecies and who would never have dreamed that what they decided in Rome or Persia would have ramifications on the life of a Jew in far off Palestine. But their decisions made the prophecies come true in the life of Jesus. Consider twelve prophecies about His birth.
- God would send His Son to save mankind. God spoke to the Satan who, in the guise of a snake (Genesis 3) caused Adam and Eve to sin. God said He would cause the offspring of Satan to be hated by the offspring of the woman, and the woman's offspring would crush Satan's head, even though Satan would bite His heel. God intended to redeem mankind, through the birth of a child of a woman, who would Himself suffer in conquering Satan.
- This Son would be born of a woman. God said such an offspring would be born of a woman, not created like Adam and Eve and not as a result of human intercourse like each of us. He would be "begotten" of a woman only. No man required. Mary knew she was a virgin and was amazed when told she would bear a child conceived by the Holy Spirit.
- The Child would be male, and be called Emmanuel. (Matthew 1:22) Joseph was shocked to hear Mary was pregnant, but a voice said: "Joseph, descendent of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son and you will name Him Jesus - because he will save His people from their sins. Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, `A virgin shall become pregnant and have a son and He will be called Emmanuel - God with us.'"
- The Child would face rejection and suffering. He might crush Satan's head, but His heel would be bruised, a symbolic way of saying He would suffer. Isaiah, 700 years before the birth of Jesus described in great detail all aspects of that suffering. (Isaiah 53)
- The Son would yet emerge victorious. The Son's heel wound was not to be compared with Satan's head wound. Wounded Satan still waits for final destruction when Christ rules the world.
- The Son of God would come from Israel. From the promise given to Abraham, the people of Israel were chosen by God to be a blessing to all other nations. They in turn would possess their own land but from them would come God's Son or Messiah.
- The Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah. Not just from Israel, but from Judah, one of the weakest of tribes. Old Jacob on his death bed gathered his twelve sons and predicted what each would become. "Judah will hold the royal sceptre and His descendants will always rule. Nations will bring Him tribute and bow down in obedience before Him. (Genesis 49:10). From one nation, one tribe.
- The Messiah would come from the House of David. Within Judah, from one family house, that of King David, the Messiah would come. 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, God had reassured a disappointed David, that although He would not be allowed to build the Temple, one of His descendants would one day rule forever. One nation. One tribe. One house.
- The Son would be born in the town of Bethlehem. Because the small town of Bethlehem was the city of David, there the Messiah would be born. Micah had prophesied 400 years earlier: "The Lord says, `Bethlehem, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.'" Joseph would never have gone to Bethlehem with Mary about to give birth, but the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus wanted to improve taxation efficiency so ordered every person to be enrolled in their traditional family city. So Joseph and Mary travelled the hard climb into the mountains to Bethlehem, from Nazareth. Here Jesus was born because of an order from the most powerful man in the world anxious to collect more tax!
- The Messiah would be born of a virgin. So it was prophecised hundreds of years before His birth. Isaiah wrote: "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: a young woman, a virgin, who is pregnant will have a son and will name Him `Emmanuel'". (Isaiah 7:14)
- The Baby would be visited by wise kings. Both David and Isaiah predicted this would happen: "The kings of Arabia and Ethiopia will bring Him offerings and all kings will bow down before Him and all nations will serve Him." "They will come from Sheba bringing gold and incense." (Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 60:3,6,9). When those wise men came from the east bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they did not realise they were fulfilling a prophecy hundreds of years old. They just followed the star, but enquired of King Herod where the new King was to be born. Herod, asked his counsellors if there was any reference anywhere to the birthplace of such a King. After searching they told him Micah had prophesied Bethlehem. Herod asked the Wise Men to return and tell Him if they found any new born king.
- His birth would result in other children dying. Herod did not realise it, but in his jealousy, he was about to fulfil another prophecy. For hundreds of years earlier, it was said, Bethlehem, where Rachael had been buried 1750 years earlier would break into "bitter weeping. Rachael is crying for her children. They are gone, and she refuses to be comforted." (Jeremiah 31:15) Herod was to blame, because fearful of a new King, he ordered every male child under two years in Bethlehem to be slaughtered. Soldiers came and killed them all and the town was filled with loud wailing at this heartless and pointless murder. Except for Joseph and Mary. Forewarned in a dream, they left their house and fled to Egypt for safety.
Little did Joseph realise that in so doing he fulfilled another prophecy which declared that the Messiah would need to be called up from Egypt before he would start His life's work. Later, when Joseph heard that Herod was dead and it was safe to return, he went north to Galilee to Nazareth, thereby fulfilling another prophecy that the Child would be called a Nazarene!
2. HE IS KING WHEREVER ANYONE OBEYS HIS WORD
Today His Kingdom extends over all the world, where ever people accept His will and way. Every tribe and people and nation and tongue now have some of His servants among their people. The scriptures are coming into the languages of every race. The Kingdom on earth is being seen in the lives of His followers.
"Hark, we hear a distant music,
and it comes with fuller swell -
the great triumph song of Jesus, of our King , Emmanuel:
Sion, go you forth to meet Him;
and my soul be swift to bring
all your finest and the dearest
for the triumph of our King!" (Henry Burton)
The manger of Bethlehem, did cradle a King. The Wise Men knew that enough to seek him. King Herod knew it enough to try to get rid of Him. The crowds that followed Him wanted to make Him King. Pilate asked "Are you a King?" Jesus died with the charge written in three languages above His head: "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." He was King. Ever since true hearts acknowledge Jesus is King when they place their lives into His Kingdom.
Gordon Moyes 1999
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