The King of kings

SCRIPTURE

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, 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.’”

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! 11 They 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.

In Matthew one, we talked about Jesus being our SAVIOR and our IMMANUEL, God’s presence with us. Today, LORD willing, we will speak to another facet of our wondrous Messiah. Jesus did come to save us and He pitched His tent among us. He became a human and lived a fully human life. But although Jesus is fully human; He is not merely human. Today, we want to talk about Jesus our KING.

When you hear the word Messiah, what is the first word that pops into your mind? Probably Savior. Jesus did come in the first advent to be our SAVIOR. So when we Gentiles think Messiah, we think SAVIOR but with the Jews it is different. They do not think the way we think. When they hear the term Messiah, they think KING. They were not looking for a suffering servant wearing the garb of a Galilean Carpenter; they were waiting for a Greater than David to drive the Romans out and make Israel a dominant power in the world.

We often judge them for their mistake but we are in danger of making a similar mistake. We Westerner have no concept of a king or a kingdom and Jesus is coming back to earth and this time as a KING. He came first as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world but we He comes again, He will come as the Lion of Judah who will rule the kingdoms of this world. Every knee will bow to King Jesus. He will rule all of God’s creation.

Matthew’s Gospel refers to Jesus as a KING 29 times. Today, I want to focus on chapter two. By way of introduction: notice the contrast between the two kings mentioned in Matthew 2, Herod, known as the Great and Jesus, known as the King of the Jews. It is an interesting contrast:

  • Herod was appointed by Rome–Jesus was Anointed by the Father
  • Herod was king for an area for a time–Jesus is KING of all creation for eternity.
  • Herod became a king–Jesus was born a KING.
  • Herod was diabolically evil–Jesus is infinitely Good.
  • Herod ruled by force and fear–Jesus rules by love and grace.
  • Herod was a mad-mad–Jesus is the God-Man.
  • Herod was a liar and a murderer–Jesus is truth and life.

I have so much I want to say about the KING of kings but I have narrowed my thoughts for your sake to three simple points.

I. EVERYBODY HAS A KING--a king is a male sovereign or monarch; a man who holds by life tenure, and usually by hereditary right, the chief authority over a country and people.

Your king may not be a person but there is something in your life that is preeminent. Something that takes precedence over everything else. Herod the Great was named king of the Jews in 40 B.C. but he was not every one’s king. He was king to the religious establishment that headquartered in Jerusalem but he was not everyone’s king. The Wise Men did not come to worship Herod, they came to worship Jesus. They acknowledged Jesus King but they paid no homage to Herod.

You will bow before some king: it could be a malevolent Herod or a benevolent Jesus. You may even worship yourself and declare yourself king. George McDonald the Scottish preacher who influenced C.S. Lewis said, “The central conviction of hell is I am my king.”

Everyone in Matthew two had a king: Herod worshipped himself, the Jewish religious establishment served Herod as did most of the populous. The wise men bowed to Jesus as did the shepherds along with others. Everyone has a king; something or someone they bow to, give homage to. Who is your king?

II. EVERYBODY NEEDS A KING

I can just about read your mind…”Wait a minute preacher, I am a red blooded American and my forefathers found a war so we could be free of kings who most often become tyrants. Whereas it is very true that the history of kings is not good; a bright spot here and there they we tend to idolize. For the Jews, it was David, the shepherd king, a man after God own heart but you and I know that David was not the perfect king. He was not the Messiah.

You will recall that the Israelites begged Samuel for a king and he did not want to grant their wish. God told him, “Don’t take it personal, they are not rebelling against you, they are rebelling against me their true King.” God had the plan in place to send Israel a true KING but they would not wait.

Democracy is medicine not food. We humans choose it because we have discovered that among mere men, no one is fit to rule. As our forefathers stated clearly, “Absolute power, absolutely corrupts.” Man is totally depraved and for this reason, he makes a poor ruler. As Micah the prophet foretold, God would send a ruler who would be a shepherd to Israel.

We are sheep and we need a shepherd. We actually need someone to guide and protect us. We need a KING, a good KING, a loving KING with infinite power and wisdom. Jesus is the KING we need. The God who created us, designed us with a need for a KING but the KING we need is Jesus.

Jeffery Smock was a writer for the New York times, by his own confession, he voted for Obama believing that Obama would become his savior. Smock was dying with AIDS and he believed the all caring Obama would put together a task force that would come up with a cure for AIDS. It did not happen and Smock died in disappointment. Wise Men worship Jesus, not the Herods of this world.

III. EVERYBODY DOES NOT AGREE THAT JESUS IS THE KING WE NEED

Most people believe in God as long as they get to define the god they believe in. Few people in America are offended by a loving God who allows everyone into heaven but this is not what Scripture teaches. God is holy, He hates sin and He demands repentance. We must acknowledge our sins and bow to the sovereign will of His Son. The world system as describes in Psalms 2 hates this idea, they rebel against the idea of being God’s possession and bowing to His Anointed [Jesus].

The world we live in is filled with Jesus haters. The world He was born into was filled with Jesus haters. Herod hated Him without even knowing Him. He tried to kill Him. The Jewish religious establishment hated Jesus.

We go to great lengths to avoid Jesus. The world figured out a long time ago, the way to avoid Jesus is to avoid sin so we have religious folks like the Pharisees who don’t see a need for Jesus. The Rich Young Ruler was attempting to be good enough that he did not need Jesus. Religious is an effort to avoid Jesus and surrender to His sovereign rule.

We Westerners don’t get it but the idea of a King involves subordination. We are filled with pride and we refuse to be subject to anyone. Jesus demands submission. He said, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself.” Would you today by your free will make Him your sovereign. Ultimately He is what He is but today He gives you the opportunity to confess Him as your Savior and Sovereign.

Psalms begins like this…Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? 2 The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. 3 “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”

Some translations say, “break the cords” but the idea is fetters, chains, rope, cords, to be bound, tied up. The world is in rebellion against the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ, they do not want to be in the yoke with HIM. They see the yoke as bondage but in truth, the yoke leads to freedom. It is in submitting to Christ that we find what are hearts long for. When we reach the point that we want His will for His glory, we make the discovery that His will is what we wanted all along, we just didn’t know it.

Brent is a musician. He doesn’t just come in here and play all these instruments on the stage. He practices for hours upon hours. I don’t think anyone makes him, he just does it. Is the music a yoke to Brent. Is music ropes that bind and enslave him? No, he finds his refuge in music. There was a time in my life that bible reading seemed like a yoke but not anymore: it is my refuge. I love my Quiet Time.

 

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One Out Of Ten

[Begin by offering $5 bills to anyone who will take them, up to ten people: see if any or how many say thank you. This object lesson will illustrate two things: thanksgiving and salvation being a gift that must be received by faith. It would be better to use a $10 or $20 only I cannot afford it, I am hoping that $5’s will work]

Text: Luke 17:11-20

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

INTRODUCTION

I’m going to get away from our series during the holidays and today, I want to talk about true Thanksgiving. In the story today, Jesus healed ten lepers but only one returned to offer thanks. Can we use this story to support the claim that only 10% of people are thankful. I am not sure we should make such a claim but we can say with a very good conscience that most people are not thankful and we are especially unthankful when it comes to spiritual blessings and what Christ has done for us.

Let me say, before we get into the heart of the sermon, that leprosy was a dreaded and horrific disease that literally destroyed the human body. Leprosy destroys the nerve ending in the extremities of our body like fingers, toes, nose, ears, etc. It has been none to consume entire limbs. Literally leprosy works from the inside and causes the body to consume itself. There was no cure for leprosy; there were no hospitals for lepers. Generally, lepers congregated because there was no one else who would dwell in their presence but they had to care for each other. Lepers have such a foul odor that many people cannot stand to get near them. A well known SB speaker attempted to enter a leper colony and stopped at the door. She got sick at her stomach and was not able to enter. In Jesus day, not one got near a leper.

This is a great story and there are so many direction that we could follow but we want to stick to the theme of Thanksgiving AMAP but there is one point I want to make before we get the Thanksgiving aspect. These men had no hope until Jesus showed up. When there is no hope anywhere: from men, medicine, science, technology, etc. there is always hope with Jesus. These guys were hopeless until that met Jesus.

Let me make some observations about thanksgiving.

I. TRUE THANKSGIVING ACKNOWLEDGES THE GIVER AS WELL AS THE GIFT.

“And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” Have you met a thankful atheist? I have not known that many atheist or agnostics but the ones have dealt with were all bitter. I don’t think you can find a thankful atheist if you search the world over. The atheist might acknowledge the gift but he/she will not acknowledge the giver of the gift. So I want to say first of all, if you are truly thankful, you will come to Jesus and give Him proper thanks.

II. TRUE THANKSGIVING ERUPTS IN TO ENTHUSIASTIC PRAISE

Note verse 13… As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  The Greek word translated here called out is airō phone which means literally raise your voice. Leprosy does damage vocal chords so these men probably formed a ten man choir and called out in unison. But now notice verse 15…Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. Loud voice in the Greek is mega phone. You put them together and you have megaphone.  You know what mega means: it is big, huge; it is more than raising your voice, it is shouting. This guy came running toward Jesus shouting in a megaphone voice, “Praise God, praise God! Jesus said, “Shut up man, you are embarrassing me.” NOT! What do you think Jesus did when he came running shouting praises to God? I think Jesus was laughing. I think He took delight in this man’s excitement about what God had done in his life. How many of you believe that Jesus had a frown on His face? So you agree with me that He was pleased, delighted and that He enjoyed every moment. I don’t know that people can tell that we are thankful by the pitiful voices we raise in praise. I am not talking about hitting notes: I am talking about Mega Praise, giving Jesus your best.

III. TRUE THANKSGIVING WORSHIPS JESUS

Note verse 16…”He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.” I think it is a given that if you are ashamed to raise your voice in praise and give a mega shout to the LORD you are not going to prostrate yourself at Jesus feet. You say, “If He was here, I would be the first to the altar.” You are a liar, He is here and you treat this altar like it has leprosy. You say, I can’t prostrate myself, how will I get up? I grant that some cannot do it physically but that is not the problem: the problem is the heart, we are not prostrating the heart. If we could get our heart to bow our body would gladly submit. The truth is: we are not like the lone Samaritan that returned shouting mega praises to God and falling at the feet of Jesus, we are more like the ten who didn’t bother to come back and thank the Giver for the gift.

CONCLUSION

I want to conclude with a story….

While on a short‑term missions trip in 1996, Pastor Jack Hinton from New Bern, North Carolina, was leading worship at a leper colony on the island if Tabango. There was time for one more song, so he asked if anyone had a request. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.

“It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” Hinton said. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. The disease had destroyed her lips as well. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?'”

Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “Jack, I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”

“Yes I will,” Jack replied, “but I’ll never sing it the same way.”

The Christian Agenda

Text: Philippians 3:2-3

1. Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. 2. Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, 4. though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!

INTRODUCTION

As we have stated multiple times, the theme of Philippians is to “Rejoice In The LORD”. The Philippians joy and even assurance was been tested by false teachers that Paul refers to as ‘dogs’ due to their impure nature and disregard for truth. The false teachers, known as Judaizers, were teaching circumcision as a requirement for salvation.

Wherever Paul went, the Judaizers followed and basically tried to undermine everything that the great Apostle had taught. The conflict between the true gospel which Paul teaches and preaches and the pseudo gospel which the Judaizers were peddling comes into focus here in Philippians.

In Paul’s gospel, salvation is by grace alone, it is a free gift received by faith in the atoning work of Christ. It can never be earned or deserved and can only be received by a broken and contrite heart; by repentance toward God and faith toward the LORD Jesus Christ. Secondly, the gospel is offered to all men which is what makes it the gospel. Paul did not exclude anyone: he carried the good news to every nation and tribe. Thirdly, the gospel was God’s truth and grace in the person of Christ and once received, the gospel has a transforming effect on a person’s life. This new birth was inward and spiritual and resulted in outward transformation.

The Jews refuted all three tenants of Paul’s gospel. [1] Salvation must be earned and it begins with circumcision, the mark of the covenant. [2] Salvation is for the Jews only and the first step of becoming a Jew is circumcision. [3] Salvation is what we do for God in terms of keeping the law of Moses: it cannot be a gift. It must be earned.

So what it boils down to is the real gospel verses the false gospel that the Judaizers were teaching and real Christianity verses this blended religion. Paul premise was that a real Christian has been circumcised inwardly and of the heart and he or she does not need the outward as a proof or assurance. Circumcision was an outward ceremony and a rite that men could see; there was physical evidence but the true meaning was inward and spiritual and the Jews missed it completely.

This leads us to verse 3 which is our text for tonight..for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…[NASB]. I really like the NCV here..We are the ones who are truly circumcised. We worship God through his Spirit, and our pride is in Christ Jesus. We do not put trust in ourselves or anything we can do.

I. TRUE CIRCUMCISION

Before we get into the heart of the message, lets talk about Circumcision for a moment. The foreskin is a shelter for germs which lead to infections. I insist that all my grand sons be circumcised just as we did with our son. It has nothing to do with earning brownie points from God. It is based on hygiene and good health. I will not go into detail but I was circumcised after the age of 40 and it took care of problem I’d had for years. I think it is the best route but I did not do it to become a Jew.

Abraham began the practice in obedience to God’s command. It became the O.T. equivalent to N.T. baptism. It was an outward sign of an inward commitment. No one will be judged by circumcision, it was a spiritual rite signifying faith and obedience. I practice baptism and insist that all who confess Christ publicly follow the LORD obediently in believers baptism. If a person refuses baptism, it is a clear indication to me that they were not serious about their commitment. BUT I do not believe that Baptism saves a person. If I did, I would use every means available to get everyone I could to be baptized. I have dealt with people who were willing to be baptized but not willing to surrender to the LORDship of Jesus Christ. One of my greatest regrets is baptizing a man at his insistence. I have no assurance that this man was saved. So neither circumcision or baptism is going to save anyone and by that I mean, regenerate spiritual life within and transform their lives. Moses said to the Israelites– “Circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiff-necked.” Moses understood and so did all the prophets that circumcision must be spiritual to be real. It was the Jews who got things twisted, not their fathers in the faith.

So what it boils down to is the real gospel verses the false gospel that the Judaizers were teaching and real Christianity verses this blended religion. Paul premise was that a real Christian has been circumcised inwardly and of the heart and he or she does not need the outward as a proof or assurance.

II. WE WORSHIP IN THE SPIRIT OF GOD [NRSV]

Christian worship is unique. We don’t get into rituals or the details of doing the same thing over and over without thought. Actually, we don’t have to have a tabernacle, a temple, an altar, a communion table or any of these things. There is nothing wrong with these things but the heart of Christian worship is inward and spiritual. It is possible that a man can be in a worship center, be under the direction of a worship leader and go through and imposing liturgy and yet never be moved or stirred in his heart. We do it all the time: we sing songs and do not pay attention to the words.

I have no doubt that Worship, true worship is directed by the Holy Spirit. I don’t think we are capable of worship if left to ourselves; we desperately need the moving of the Spirit to worship. When we hear people use the term “Worship Wars” we think of worship styles and types of music but none of this is the problem. The LORD commands us again and again to sing a new song. He wants us to be creative and fresh. The real worship war is within you. You must overcome a lot of things in order to worship.

[1] First, you have to get beyond your self-consciousness. Hey this is easier said than done. If I am not careful and prayerful, I will enter a worship service thinking about myself. Let’s suppose everyone has this problem and we have 300 people gathered in the name of worship but we are all thinking about ourselves. How can we get beyond this self-centerness that is such a hindrance to worship. We must bow our heads and pray for the Spirit to interrupt us and have His will and way. I guarantee you that the average Baptist is worried about what the people next to them are thinking about them. There is much more freedom to sing when others are singing but when no one is singing we all clam up. Why, because we are self-sciousness. We are worried about what others think.

[2] Self-consciousness is just the tip of the iceberg, there are distractions galore. I am a front pew dweller. I came in late the other night because I was unable to sit and I stood in the back and tried to worship but that is all but impossible for me. I like being on the front: it is easier for me to keep my focus on Jesus in there is no one in front of me. During the last revival, I could hear people talking out loud during the praise time. I closed my eyes and prayed but I needed ear plugs. It does not take a lot to distract me. Most of the time, if I am to get into the spirit of worship, I have to close my eyes and visualize the presence of Jesus. Worship has to be inward and spiritual to be real.

[3] The third thing is our spiritual impotence. We ought to begin every worship service with and acknowledgement that the HOLY SPIRIT alone can inspire and generate worship. We are at God’s mercy, even in worship.

[4] A fourth hindrance is our attitude toward others. The Jews were professional worshippers but they had contempt and hatred for others. They despised the Samaritans who were their closes neighbors and distant kin folk. They hated Gentiles and referred to them as dogs. It doesn’t stop there, they didn’t love each other. The Jewish Religious establishment, the leaders of worship, thought more of their live stock than they did for fellow Jews. Jesus healed a man with a cripple arm on the Sabbath and this incident is what initiated the conspiracy to murder the Son of God. Jesus confronted them point blank: If you had an animal that needed water on the Sabbath, you would lead it from the stall to the water but when a fellow Jew is suffering, you cannot help because it is the sabbath. They cared more about their livestock and their worth than they did their neighbors. We come in here, with hatred for half of the community and expect to worship. It will not happen. Our attitude toward others is a huge hindrance to worship.

[5] One more hindrance and I will move on: Our Insincerity hinders our worship. We are prone to put on, to fake, to pretend and all this goes against the heart of worship. We need to get real.

III. THE THIRD DISTINGUISHING TRAIT OF A REAL CHRISTIAN IS: WE BOAST IN CHRIST ALONE.

This last point as an A and B part: First, we glory in Jesus Christ. Again, I like the NCV here, We worship God through his Spirit, and our pride is in Christ Jesus. The word Paul uses is a favorite to him; it is the Greek word kauchaomai. Paul uses this word 35 times in his epistles and it is translated a lot of different ways…Most of the time ‘boast’, ‘Exult, 3 times, ‘Take pride in’ a couple of times and also to ‘glory in’. This word can be used to describe the two extremes we face in sharing Christ: [1] One being proud self-confidence and the other [2] humble submission to God’s grace. Paul uses the word in the positive way. When he says, “We glory in…take pride in”, he is referring to Christ accomplishments. Our boasting cannot be in ourselves, that would be sin but we are free to boast in the accomplishments of Jesus.

Have you ever attempted to list the accomplishments of Jesus? We are approaching Christmas and just in light of this one day, think about what Jesus accomplished.

  1. He brought life and light into a dead and dark world.
  2. He became the center of history.
  3. He revolutionized the world’s view toward women and children.
  4. He inaugurated a movement, the church, that has lead to the founding of orphanages, hospitals, schools, ministries of mercy like the SALVATION ARMY and SAMARITAN PURSE.
  5. What does Christmas do for you and your children? Jesus brought us Christmas.
  6. Christmas alone transforms the month of December.
  7. Jesus demonstrated to us that it is more fun to give than to receive.

This list is just about Christmas.

  1. He lived a perfect life.
  2. He gave up the glory of heaven to become a man.
  3. He took our sin, shame and sorrow upon Himself.
  4. He loved everyone including His enemies, those who abused Him.
  5. He conferred Peace on all who believed.
  6. He calm seas and hearts with the power of His word.
  7. He healed the sick and raised the dead.