Jesus, Fulfiller of God’s Word

Luke 4:14-21

Before the world was created, God already knew He would need to send His beloved Son to die, to spill His blood as a sacrifice to redeem and rescue a sinful world. He would lavish His grace out on all of us in Jesus Christ. This is His word of promise.

In the book of Genesis when God created, each day He looked at what He had made and said, “It is good.” When He looked at Adam and Eve, He said, “It is very good.” Paradise was beautiful, perfect, and humanity lived in a close, loving harmony with God. Adam and Eve enjoyed the most intimate of friendship and fellowship with Almighty God.

It was tragic when a serpent came into Paradise and seduced Eve and Adam into disobedience and unbelief of God’s word. Adam and Eve experienced guilt, shame, and fear for the very first time. They ran and hid from God. Paradise was lost.

However, God immediately spoke a word of promise in Genesis 3:15. He said to the serpent, “There will be enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel.” This is the red thread of salvation’s promise, which weaves its way through the whole of the biblical narrative. It is the story of God and His people.

So begins a titanic struggle between God and the evil one. This struggle plays out in the hearts and history of humanity and the world. Eventually the offspring of woman would crush Satan’s head – in the birth of Jesus, the Son of God; in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus when He went to the cross and then was raised from the dead. Paul, in Romans 16:20, said, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

This promise of God is true for every believer. When God makes a promise, He keeps His word, because God is true. He cannot lie. Every promise God makes, He will deliver. God will fulfill every word of promise.

In the Epiphany light, we believe God shines to reveal His heart to us in the person of Jesus, the fulfiller of all His promises and every word of Scripture. In Genesis 1, when it talks about God’s creative word, it says God spoke and reality came into being. God, by His word, initiated action within the created order. The unfolding of history began in the life of people and animals in the whole of creation. The Hebrew term is davar – God’s creative word brings reality to existence and action unfolds according to God’s will. God’s word will be done.

Later, when the prophets come on the scene, they speak to God’s people, “Thus says the Lord,” because it is God’s word – power that will unfold history. Prophets were not so much future tellers as they were speakers of God’s word, which transformed life by their word. In Luke 4, when Jesus speaks in the temple, He reads from Isaiah 61, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing because the Spirit is on me, anointing me.” He is claiming His anointing by the Spirit.

The key word – the anointed one – is the figure of the Messiah, God’s promised Deliverer. He will bring good news to the poor, heal those who are broken in heart, and free those who are captive. He will give sight to the blind and joy to the sorrowful. He is the outpouring of God’s grace in the fulfillment of His promises. Jesus claims to be the embodiment, the fulfiller of the Word.

All through the prophets, they painted images of this messianic expectation. Isaiah says in chapter 42, “This is my servant, my chosen. In him I delight. . . He will bring justice. He will embody a gentle strength. A bruised reed he will not break. A dimly burning wick he will not extinguish.”

In chapter 11, Isaiah describes a vision of peace where the wolf will lie down with the lamb, the leopard with a young goat, a calf with a lion, and a little child shall lead them.

It is the age of joy for the afflicted and liberation for the oppressed. All people will now see the light of revelation. Jesus is the fulfiller of God’s word. So in the messianic expectation, the Messiah would be a prophet like Moses revealing God’s wisdom, and establishing righteousness, freeing the captives. The Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek, mediating a new covenant by the shedding of His blood in the system of sacrifice. It will be once and for all – the atonement of sins for the forgiveness of all.

After the promise God made to King David, one of his sons would rise to the throne and rule forever in victory over the enemies establishing an age of peace and prosperity and restoring harmony between God and His people. So the people waited for this messianic expectation all through the millennias.

When John in his Gospel begins by speaking of the birth of Jesus, he uses the Greek word “logos” translated Word. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, and he was the light of all men. The Word became flesh and lived with us, and we saw his glory, full of grace and truth.”

The “Logos” describes God coming back to a rebellious world to re-create the beauty and harmony of the broken creation. How? By the speaking of His Word, by sending Jesus to us. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus fulfills the word. So, when Luke tells the story, he speaks of the angel Gabriel coming to Zechariah in the holy of holies and promises him a child would be born to Elizabeth, his barren, old wife. This child born will be the prophetic forerunner to the Messiah (Jesus).

Then Gabriel goes to Mary, the virgin girl, telling her she will conceive a child. By the anointing of the Holy Spirit, a child born to be the Son of the Most High. This child will be the Savior of the world. Anyone who would hear a word from an angel (God’s messenger), would say, This is the one, the Fulfiller, whom people of all points of history have waited for.

Interestingly, Gabriel says to Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” This could literally be translated, “no word” is impossible for God to fulfill. In Jesus’s life – His teaching and miracles, in His death on the cross, in the rejection of His people, in the ideological, unjust execution of Jesus, in the shedding of blood atoned for the sins of the world, and in the raising Him from the dead, Jesus was proven to be in the Son of God. Every promise of God made throughout all of history is fulfilled in Jesus Christ!

When Jesus hung bleeding on the cross, nailed between heaven and earth, He said, “It is finished.” In other words, It is complete. The Word is fulfilled. The promise of salvation is for you. Second Corinthians 5 tells us, “God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to himself.” So when God raised Jesus from the dead to vindicate Him, proving He was the Son of God, forgiveness is proclaimed in His name to all people in all places in the world. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the Word of God’s promises throughout all of history. In the fullness of time, He came, and He is the Savior of the world.

I’d like to tell you a story about a rich art collector who accumulated one of the greatest collections of art ever in the world. With all that beauty assembled in one place, you would think he would been one of the happiest men in the world. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. His only son had been tragically killed in a car accident when he was a young man, and the father never got over it.

He loved his son so much and was so proud of every accomplishment he had made. He had great plans for his son to join in the family business and to live in his love. But he died tragically, prematurely in the accident. The father was so devastated he really never recovered. So the father – this art collector – put all his energy into compiling the best art collection he could in memory of his beloved son.

When the father died, he left no heir. In the will, it was announced the man’s art collection was to be auctioned off.

The day of the auction was much anticipated. Famous art dealers from all over the world came from far and wide. The first item up for auction was a painting of a young man by an unknown painter. It was not a particularly good piece of art and definitely not a good painting. Frankly, none of the art dealers were interested in it and were waiting for the valuable pieces of art to come up for sale.

When the auctioneer called for bids, his request was made and there was silence. Not a hand was raised to bid. The auctioneer lowered his beginning amount. Eventually an old man in the back bid for the painting of the young man. He had been the art collector’s butler, and he knew the painting was actually a picture of the father’s beloved son, whom he also loved as one being raised in the house. It had been painted shortly before the young man was tragically killed in the accident. The butler valued the painting not for artistic value, but because he loved the son.

Well, the art dealers were sure happy to have that painting out of the way! Now for the real sale, and the real art items of great value! Then the auctioneer announced, “Ladies and gentleman, I’ve been required to read the following clause of the will. It reads, ‘Whoever buys the painting of my son gets everything else in the art collection as well.’ This auction is now over. The one who takes the son gets everything else as well.”

Jesus is the embodiment of every promise God has made. Every blessing God can give to us or pour into us comes from Jesus the Christ. So when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, every promise is fulfilled, and we become recipients of the promises of God. Or like Mary, we become participants in the actual unfolding of the fulfillment of all of God’s plan of salvation. We become children of God, people of God, and the people God uses to shine His love for all to the light of the world.

Jesus is the fulfiller of every promise in God’s word. I believe it. I invite you to believe it, too. We can stake our life on that promise. Amen.

Pastor Lee Laaveg

Jesus Revealed: The life of the Party!

John 2:1-11

A family was riding home from church one Sunday, and the mom asked her second-grade daughter about her Sunday school lesson for the day. The little girl said, “We learned the story about Jesus turning the water into wine at Cana.” Then she enthusiastically told the whole story.

When she was finished, her mom asked, “So what did you learn from the story?”

The little girl thought for a moment and said, “Well, if you’re going to have a party, make sure you invite Jesus!”

She’s right, you know. Today’s Gospel text affirms it. Let’s take a quick look at the story.

It begins with these words: “On the third day . . .” connecting it to the story before it. Jesus promised Nathaniel that if he were to come with Him, he would see greater things – heaven and earth intersecting with angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man, Jesus. This is exactly what Nathaniel and the others will start seeing at Cana, and at a wedding party of all things!

I love the fact that Jesus went to wedding parties. I love the image of Him being with people, celebrating with them in the joy, dancing, and joking around. It is a great picture!

I’m reminded of a statement made by Rick Christian, “Christianity isn’t for deadheads. At least not if you take Christ as the model. He was not so much a ‘man of sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:3) as a man of joy. We know he didn’t stifle his tears – but he also didn’t cover up his laughter and joy. He liked parties and fun and swarms of kids . . . The stories Jesus told were often of joyous feasts and celebrations. He likened the Kingdom of God not to a convention of blurry-eyed librarians but to a rollicking banquet and a wedding feast – tremendous times of joy. Joy was indeed ‘serious business’ with Jesus Christ.”

Christ was enjoying this wedding in Cana, but the party was sinking fast. It was headed toward a failure, for they had run out of wine. It was on the brink of being a social disaster, an embarrassment for the bridegroom and the families. It could even have been considered a bad omen by the newlyweds. Obviously, someone – perhaps the bridegroom himself – had miscalculated how much wine would be needed for this party, which would last four to seven days. Wine was the sign of joy. This party needed rescuing.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, must have had some connection with the host families for the celebration, for she knew the seriousness of the situation at hand. She turned to Jesus with the problem interceding on their behalf. “They’ve run out of wine.”

He answered, “Dear woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.”

Still believing in Jesus, Mary left the whole matter in His hands instructing the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” She was showing faith in her Son, which shouldn’t surprise us. After all, she had heard from the angel Gabriel thirty years earlier that the child she would bear and raise would be special. He would be called the Son of God.

So Mary not only asked Jesus for help, but she also instructed the servant to “do whatever He tells you.” She left it with Jesus. It was almost as if she was yielding her request to His will. That, my friend, is faith.

Jesus compassionately came to the rescue. He told the servants to fill six ceremonial jars used for the Jewish rite of purification – each holding 20 – 30 gallons of water. Then He had them draw some of it out and take it to the chief steward of the feast. When the chief steward tasted the water that had become wine, he didn’t know where it had come from, though the servants knew. He went to the bridegroom and said, You know, usually the best wine is served first and then the inferior wine when the guests have become drunk and don’t know the difference. But you, my friend, have done just the opposite. This is fantastic wine! Interesting isn’t it? The One who later would call Himself the bridegroom saved a bridegroom that day with His presence and power.

John editorializes at the end of the narrative. He says, “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

Notice, John refers to this miracle as a sign, the first of Jesus’ signs that would reveal His glory, who He is – heaven meeting earth. It was the heavenly reality of John 1:1, 14: “The Word was with God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

This sign reveals not only who Jesus is, but also what He brings to a life: rescue. He rescued a wedding party that day. How compassionate of Jesus. He stepped in to help, even with the little things.

This sign points to the last sign where His glory would really be revealed. When Jesus told His mother, “My hour has not yet come,” He was talking about the cross where the ultimate sign happened. The glory of God would shine as heaven and earth intersected a cross. He will be the sacrifice that takes away the sins of the world. The greatest sign of God’s love and compassion for sinful humanity – you and me – who stand as sinful and helpless before a holy God. He rescued us. God will raise Him up on Easter affirming Him and His sacrifice offering us forgiveness.

We also see Jesus has the power to transform. He brings transformation, a new quality to life. One hundred eighty gallons of wine is quite an abundance of wine, which is something the Old Testament prophecies predicted – abundance would come with the messianic age, when Messiah comes.

In this story we find not only quantity but also quality. The steward said, “You’ve served the best wine last!” I am reminded of John’s statement about Jesus, “From his (Christ’s) fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).

Could it be that those purification jars represented the ritualism of the law of Moses where people would need cleansing again and again, and this was a sign that they were being replaced with the new wine of the Gospel of grace and truth in Jesus Christ? This new wine of Jesus is for the relief of the guilty conscience burdened by failures. Soon Christ’s once-and-for-all sacrifice at the cross will once and for all save and completely cleanse those who come to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus not only has the power to forgive our sins then, but to also change us. He cleanses us and changes us, making us new creations. Just as the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel dreamed of a new day, a new heart, a new spirit, a new covenant with God’s law written on people’s hearts, we are now empowered to walk obediently with God. Christ gives new life, new future, and new power.

I love the testimony of an ex-convict, Harold Morris, who speaks of his liberating new life in Christ. He writes, “The promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is that a person in Christ becomes a new creature. That included Convict 62345. Old habits and attitudes were replaced as the Spirit of God worked in my life. The vengeance that I had nourished for five years and the rebellious spirit that had been a driving force in my life relaxed their grip when Christ took control. Little by little he replaced my hatred by his love. Sometimes I lay in the prison yard looking at the sky and relishing the joy and peace that I’d found in Christ. The bars and fences were still there, as were the guards with their high-powered rifles. But I had an inner strength I’d never known before – the very presence of Christ.”

An event like this rescue party in Cana also points us to another moment to come, an eternal moment. The wedding is a foretaste of the great heavenly feast in store for God’s forgiven people, according to John’s heavenly vision in Revelation 21. Listen to these words:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a voice from the throne saying,

“. . . and God will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, . . . he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death shall be no more; neither shall there be morning nor crying no pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Jesus provides not only a new life in the here-and-now, but also an eternal life with Him in His heaven.

This story, then, is saved and written in the power of the Spirit to be a sign for readers like you and me. It points us to the truth that, in Jesus Christ, heaven intersects earth. He has come to be our heavenly rescuer – the Word became flesh – to be a transformer of our lives.

Jesus also said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (to the full)” John 10:10. People have been discovering the truth of this statement from Jesus for centuries since. They have discovered that Jesus was and still is the life of the party, the one you want to invite.

So I ask, why would a person not invite Him to their party and to their life? Why not believe in Him as His disciples did at the end of our story for today? Why not trust Him with your life here and now, and for eternity? Furthermore, why not put ourselves in the position of the servants acting on Mary’s instructions to do whatever He says? Obey His word, for He speaks to us from Scripture about how life works best for His followers as we follow His word?

Why not bring Him our petitions, our predicaments, and our problems, fully yielding ourselves, surrendering ourselves to His good and perfect will in faith. For He who was in the beginning creating the world, creating humanity, surely He would know what makes life work best for us. And He who laid down His life for us at a cross to redeem us and rose from the grave, wouldn’t He have our best interests in mind? Of course He would!

This is our appeal from God’s holy word today. Jesus Christ – heaven intersecting earth. Invite Him to your party, into your life. Experience for yourself heaven intersecting with your life. Experience His nearness, His faithfulness, His forgiveness, His grace, His compassion, and His joy as you trust and obey Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

If you’re going to have a party, you’d better invite Jesus. This is our message for today. Amen.

Pastor Steve Kramer

Jesus Revealed: Congratulations! It’s God!

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Though I received several Christmas gifts three weeks ago, I am just now discovering how wonderful some of these gifts are. Yesterday I started reading a new book I received, and I can’t put it down. It’s great! I’m so glad I opened it!

As we think of the greatest Christmas gift of all – Jesus – it’s important for us to take a close look at Him to discover (and perhaps even rediscover) the wondrous things about Jesus, in order to really appreciate Him. We can do that by examining the Gospel narratives, which reveal some great truths about Jesus – who He is, what He’s about, what He means for our lives.

Today we are going to take another look at Jesus in this sermon series entitled, Jesus Revealed.

Before we look at our text, I’d like to share a favorite Christmas story of mine. Some first-graders decided to write their own version of the Christmas story. It was more modern than the traditional drama. They had the familiar members of the cast: Joseph, the shepherds, and an angel propped up in the background. However, Mary was nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly, behind the bales of hay came some loud moaning sounds. Evidently Mary was in labor. Soon the doctor arrived dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck. Joseph, with a look of relief on his face, took the doctor straight back to Mary, and then began pacing back and forth in front of the scene. After a couple minutes, the doctor emerged with a big smile on his face and announced, “Congratulations, Joseph! It’s a God!” ☺

This is the real story of Christmas. Congratulations, it’s God! It is the main truth being revealed to us in today’s story about the baptism of Jesus. He is 30 years old. We know very little about His childhood from Scripture.

Jesus came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. Some people ask why Jesus would need to be baptized. John’s baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, and Jesus was sinless.

As far as I’ve been able to tell, Jesus is identifying Himself with sinful people. He is dedicating Himself to the mission God had for Him – to be the Savior.

After Jesus came up out of the water and was praying, the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove and the voice of God said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” I am delighted.

Jesus is receiving God’s endorsement. His approval. It is true. You are My Son. Jesus is the Son of God. God in the flesh.

While His divinity has been announced, there is more here for us to consider as we look carefully at the words God spoke. This is also a coronation of a King. The first part of these words comes from Psalm 2:7, a coronation psalm for the kings of Israel as they are given authority.

It is also a commissioning. He is receiving orders concerning His mission. “With whom I am well pleased,” are words taken from the servant song in Isaiah 42, which speaks of one who will come and serve the people by suffering and dying for them.

Jesus is no ordinary person, but the Son of God who came to die for sinners so we might be rescued and restored to a relationship with God. As the Gospel writer John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. . . the Word became flesh dwelling among us full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14a).”

This text also reminds us that Jesus is a member of the Holy Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all in this story. God spoke, the Spirit descended upon Jesus, and Jesus was pronounced as God’s Son. As the Spirit descends upon Him, we are reminded that He is the powerful One who John the Baptist spoke of when he said, “One more powerful than I is coming. I baptize you with water; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Once we have grasped the truth that Jesus is God, it’s every bit as important for us to grasp the truth that Jesus is also true man. Following His baptism, Luke gives a lengthy genealogy of Jesus, threading back to King David, to Abraham, even to Adam at the creation of the world. He was referred to as the Son of God. Jesus is “the second Adam,” as the apostle Paul tells us. The perfect, sinless man as God intended. The perfect sacrifice for humanity’s sinfulness.

What credentials this Jesus has! Son of God, sovereign King, commissioned servant King of God, true God, true man sent to save us from our sins. This was no ordinary baby born that first Christmas. Just as the angel said, “This is the Son of God” who would later say of Himself, “He who has seen me has seen the Father. The Father and I are one.”

The bottom line here is, Jesus is God taking the initiative, as He always does throughout the biblical story, to save us. He is the way of salvation for sinners, the only way God has provided for us to be rescued from our greatest problem: sin and death. Jesus, the Son of God, is the only one qualified to deliver us.

A great Christian author, John Stott, explains it this way: “So the divinity of Christ, the humanity of Christ and the righteousness of Christ uniquely qualified Him to be man’s redeemer. If He had not been man, He could not have redeemed men. If He had not been a righteous man, He could not have redeemed unrighteous men. And if He had not been God’s Son, He could not have redeemed men for God or made them the sons of God.”

Think of an air/sea rescue. Suppose you are in a little boat on the water, and you need to be rescued. You have a rope in the little dinghy but you cannot use it to climb up to the helicopter overhead. Salvation has to come from the top down. So someone who is secured at the top is lowered on the winch. By embracing him you are lifted with him to the position from where he came.

Salvation has to be from above. Only God can save. We cannot climb up for the simple reason that we have nothing to climb on.

The good news is this: Christ has come down to us! He went on this incredible journey from heaven to earth. In Him God is reaching out to every person on this planet.

We have seen who Jesus is. The big question is, what now are we going to do with Him?

We live in a pluralistic world. So many religions compete for our attention and allegiance. Some will talk of Jesus simply as a great moral teacher like other great teachers or prophets. The Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, the Buddhists think Him an avatar, the Jews reject Him as a fraud. Others will try to convince us He is just one of many ways to God. Some people will twist Him, spin Him in order to make Him fit into their own world thinking.

Scripture, however, says (as did Jesus) He is the Son of God, the only way to a relationship with the heavenly Father. He is God’s only means of saving a sin-sick world. He suffered death on a cruel cross to pay for our sins. He is the bridge between God and humankind who have been separated by sin. We can say all these things with assurance as Christians because Jesus rose from the dead after His crucifixion, which was the final proof, the authentication of everything He said and did. He sits at the right hand of the Father, and all authority is His. He is coming again to judge the living and the dead.

My friend, are you ready for Him? Suppose He came today. Suppose today was your last day, your last breath. Are you ready?

Consider this statement from the great Christian thinker, C. S. Lewis: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”

So what are we to do with this Jesus, who has been revealed to us? It’s really quite simple: Believe in Him. Trust Him with your whole being. Rest with certainty on what He has done for you at the cross and the empty tomb. This is the whole point of the Gospel narrative of Luke.

Go back to the beginning and see how Luke begins his Gospel narrative.

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4 ESV).

Did you catch that? I wrote this that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught about Jesus Christ. All this was written so you may place your trust in Him.

Jesus is the help God has promised since the beginning of time. You can be confident that He is able to do in your life what no other person and no other teaching could ever do. He is the solid foundation upon which to build your life.

If you are holding back from Him, thinking someday maybe, I want you to consider these words of the Apostle Paul to nonbelievers in Athens, Greece. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed. Of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV).

My friends, to know God, one must know and have a relationship with the appointed One – Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of the world.

The appeal this day is this: By the power the Holy Spirit, having heard this Gospel, ask Him into your life today. Trust in Him for your salvation.

If you have received Him into your life, continue to rest in Him with a deep certainty that nothing can separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ. For this One, affirmed by God as His Son, Jesus, there is no other on which we can stand. Amen.

Pastor Steve Kramer

Jesus Revealed: Behold, Your King!

Matthew 2:1-12

When Julie and I were married, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about her. Forty-two years later, however, nothing could be further from the truth. My eyes are still being opened to new and wondrous things about my wife. More and more, I am convinced that I truly am a blessed husband.

In the same way, the longer I follow Jesus Christ, the more I find He still has plenty to reveal to me about Himself. Our special quest these next few weeks, which the Church calls the Season of Epiphany, will be to discover some revelations about Jesus, which are found in the Bible.

Now that Christmas has come and gone, it’s time to take a closer look at the central character of Christmas – Jesus Himself. Who is He? What does His arrival have to do with me? The title of our series is called “Jesus Revealed.” Our goal is to get to know Jesus better.

The first insight we learn about Him is found in Matthew chapter 2. After the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, perhaps several months after, some foreigners rode into Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea, with their entourage. They caused quite a bit of a stir among the locals. These men had come from the East, most likely some place like Persia or modern-day Iraq. They were Magi – Wise Men – who studied the stars and the movements of the planets. They had seen something in the sky, which caused them to make this very long trip to Jerusalem. One particular star stirred them into believing something big had happened: a king had been born, the King of the Jews.

So they asked, “Where is the child that has been born King of the Jews, for we have observed his star at its rising and have come to pay homage to him.” Upon seeing the star, they probably looked up some of the ancient Jewish writings and found a text about a special star, a prophecy of sorts in Numbers 24:17: “. . . a star will come out of Jacob, a scepter will rise out of Israel . . .” Their question caught the people by surprise for no one knew of the birth of a king. Herod was the only King they knew, and he had been in power for quite some time.

Soon the news of these Wise Men and their questions reached King Herod, and he was extremely troubled. A new threat to his throne had arrived perhaps. Some competition? Would there be a rebellion, would he be overthrown? If Herod ain’t happy, no one is happy. So the host city was troubled right along with Herod because this could mean trouble for them. What action would Herod take against the citizenry if he thought a plot to over throw him was being hatched? Everyone knew how paranoid, cruel, and violent Herod could be.

Herod called together the local religious experts – the priests and the scribes – and asked them where the promised Christ of Israel was to be born. According to God’s Word in Micah, they answered, the answer is Bethlehem, which is only about five miles down the road. That is the city of King David, his birthplace. Herod passed this information along to the Wise Men and cunningly asked when exactly they had seen the star rise so he might know how old this child might be by now. Then he asked them to return to him so he, too, could pay homage to this King.

Of course, we know that is not what Herod had in mind. He was already plotting to eliminate this threat. Later on, he would have all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and under killed.

The Wise Men went on their way with this information. As they stepped down the road toward Bethlehem, the star reappeared and directed them to the place where Jesus was. When they saw the Child, they knelt before Him and paid Him homage. They bowed in reverent obeisance to this King and gave Him gifts fit for a king.

What is the main thought being revealed to us about Jesus in the story? He is royalty! He is a King. Through their worship and splendid gifts, we see a signal that in Jesus is a kingship beyond all kingships, just as promised in ancient Scripture for the last times. This child, who was born in a stable, is the King. He is the King of Israel. As the Christmas Carol says, “Noel, noel. Born is the King of Israel.”

He is the Anointed One, the Christ, the One they had been longing for, waiting for, hoping and praying for, the Messiah from David’s lineage who would rescue them and rule over them. The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

We also learn He is King of the nations – all the nations. These men who, came to pay homage, were outsiders, foreigners, non-Jews worshiping Him as a divine King. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah talked of this event. He described the King as a light. All the nations and kings of the nations would come to Him, give Him gifts, and pay homage to Him.

He is the Shepherd King according to Micah 5:2. Born in Bethlehem, the birthplace of David, the first shepherd king. Bethlehem is now the birthplace of the last Shepherd King – Jesus – the One they had been longing for. Later He will declare He is the Good Shepherd who will lay down His life for the sheep (for His people). He will allow Himself to be nailed to a cross in order to rescue us from humankind’s greatest problem: sin and its consequences – death.

Finally, Jesus is the eternal King.

Note: there are two kings in the story: Herod and Jesus. Later on in the same chapter, Herod dies and is entombed somewhere. Yet the Babe of Bethlehem is alive and well. He is resurrected and seated at the right hand of God with all power and authority over this whole universe. He is enthroned as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is coming again in majesty, glory, and power to claim this world once and for all. On that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

You have a King! Is He your King? What are you doing with this King?

Over the centuries, attitudes toward this King have been divided, just like in our story for today, which gives us a foretaste of the future to come as people respond to Jesus the King. Some have rejected Him, like Herod did who was threatened by Him. I don’t want anyone taking over, Herod thought to himself. Likewise, we have a little Herod in each one of us. I don’t want anyone telling me how to run my life. I want to be on the throne. I want control. I want to run my own life and be captain of my own destiny. Our hearts are naturally that way ever since the sin in the garden of Eden. We want to be our own gods, and so we’re hostile toward God.

Some are indifferent toward this King, like the priests and scribes in our story for today who didn’t even bother making the five-mile trip down the road to see Messiah. Can you believe it? Was it indifference? Was it unbelief that kept them at home doing the same old thing, basically ignoring what they had heard, hanging onto their familiar religion and ways?

Yet many treat Jesus as their King. (Do you?) They kneel before Him, submit to Him, yield control of their lives to His authority. They declare their willingness to not only trust Him with their lives, but to also serve and obey Him. They declare their allegiance and loyalty to Him. His word carries weight in their lives. What the King says is truth. What the King says goes for me.

For instance, Paul in his New Testament letters, would sometimes say of himself, “Paul, a servant of Jesus the Christ, the King.” Martin Luther, in the second article of his small catechism, writes about Jesus. “He has done all this (going to the cross and rising again) in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.”

People struggle with the thought of submission to anyone, even to Christ. They are hesitant to give Him absolute sway and control over life. Can I really trust Him with my life? I’m afraid He’ll wreck it. I am doing okay without Him. He can be on my board of directors, but He is just one vote among many; that won’t hurt. But give Him control? Obey Him unquestioningly? I don’t know.

My response to those who say or think something like this is: Look at the cross with the Savior upon it, your King! See His love for you. Can’t you trust the One who would do something like that for you?

Treating Him as King, they not only submit to Him, they also give Christ their best. They give gifts fit for a King like those Wise Men did – their assets, their hands and feet, their voice, their skills and talents and energies – all for His purposes. These gifts are given not out of an obligation, but out of love and gratitude for all He has done for them at the cross and the grave, changing their lives for the better as they walk with Him. They live by the verse, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord Jesus not for men” (Col. 3:23).

A few years ago I came across an interesting illustration, which was shared by Howard Hendrix, a Christian educator. He had been sitting in a plane that was delayed for takeoff. After a long wait, the passengers became more and more irritated. Hendrix noticed how gracious one of the flight attendants was as she spoke with them. After the plane finally took off, he told the flight attendant how amazed he was at her poise and self-control, and said he wanted to write a letter of commendation for her to the airline. The flight attendant replied that she didn’t work for the airline company but for Jesus Christ. She said that just before going to work, she and her husband prayed she would be a good representative of Christ.

This is an example of someone giving their best to the King.

Our good news for today is simply this: you have a King in Jesus Christ. Treat Him as your King. Bow before Him. Trust Him with your life. Live under Him in His kingdom serving and obeying Him. Give Him your very best – not out of obligation but out of love for the King who first loved you. Amen.

Pastor Steve Kramer