Title: Right on Time!
Text: Matthew 2.1-12; Luke 2.1-20
Introduction: Recording? We’re going to move freely between Matthew 2.1 & Luke 2.1… Go ahead and bookmark those passages as we begin.
Let’s gain some context here of the overall Christmas Sermon Series.
I’m breaking the series down like this:
- Promised from the Beginning – His Story in Ancient History. Gen 3.1-24
- Prepared Throughout History – His Story in the Old Testament. Matthew 1.1-17
- Proclaimed Unexpectedly – His Story Announced. Matthew 1.18-25
- Arrived at the Right Time – His Story in our Time. Matthew 2.1-12
We began with the Fall and a promise made. Then, we continued through history as we looked at the lineage of Christ. Last week we looked at how he was proclaimed unexpectedly. God had been silent for hundreds of years and now – wah-lah, God announced the coming of his promised messiah through angels to Joseph – also to Mary and Zechariah. Now, the Baby has arrived and his timing is perfect!
So, let’s begin in Mt 2; if you’re wanting to follow along with me this morning, Here’s how I’ve outlined the following passage:
God’s Timing is Perfect
- God’s Timing is Problematic
- God’s Timing is Not Limited in Scope to accomplishing His Plan
- God’s Timing is Planned to ignite in you a desire for worship
Transition: Let’s begin with point #1…
Introduction: God’s timing is perfect in sending us the Messiah, the Promised One
exp.: rd v 1; In the days of Herod the King (in the time of Herod the King); Luke 2.1; in those days (at that time); Luke 2.6 the time came (lit.: day), vs. 11 (lit.: today); the time came; they came – they arrived;
ill.: during the day, today, back in my day. All in the family,
Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.
And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.
Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.
Xronos vs. Kairos vs. Hemera vs. Semeron
- Xronos: a period of time, a season – χρόνος (measured time, duration) to see time as either a flowing river which carries us away (chronos)- : chronometer
- Kairos: a point in time, as well as a period of time – καιρός (time of opportunity and fulfilment) – a quiet lake which we swim in (kairos) For the most part, they’re synonymous. One writer said: It’s really the difference between aminute and a Chronos is about chronological time. Kairos is about the living experience within time.
- Hemera: day, in the day of Herod (in the time of King Herod)
- Semeron: today, lit.: a contraction of the definite article and the word hemera. From what I gather from this word it is literally the day we are in or this day. We use the word,
Jesus used both words Kairos and Xronos when the disciples asked him just before he ascended to be with the Father if would restore the kingdom of Israel at that time (xronos). Jesus said: “It is not for you to know times (Xronos) or seasons (Kairos) that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
Transition: Both words are used in His Story. Christ was born in a moment of time. God knows the day, the hour, the minute, the place.
Here is the point: there was a time in history – His Story, when God sent his son to be our Messiah. God had a plan from Genesis 3.15, when he promised Christ would come. That plan was laid out perfectly. God knew the season, the events, the circumstances. More than that, God orchestrated them all to bring his son into this sinful world. The Timing really was perfect. Gal 4.4: 4 But when the fullness of time (χρόνος) had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Transition: with an understanding that God’s Timing is Perfect, Let’s look at how God’s perfect timing touched our world, it’s people and us…
I. God’s timing is problematic for those opposing the Messiah, the Promise One (3-7)
exp.: God’s timing is inconvenient for anyone whose concern is more for themselves than it is for others. As Humans, we have too often misplaced our ‘Awe”; We have an ‘awe’ problem; We place it on creation, people, things, possessions, etc. etc. etc. In this passage, we see two such groups who were in an ‘awe’ problem: Awe of Self & Awe of Religion;
- Awe of Self: Herod
Herod, the Great:
- His Rule: my understanding of his name having, the Great on it is because he was the eldest child of Antipater – procurator of Idumea as established by Caesar. Antipater gave his son responsibilities and watched his son be successful at each and every task. At the age of 25, Herod became governor of Galilee. Rome was impressed with his handling of stressful events, including Galilean bandits and a showdown with the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem. Herod proved his leadership skills and continued to impress Rome. When his father was assassinated, Herod fled to Rome, where he was made “King of the Jews” and returned to set up his reign. It wasn’t easy, for there was sitting in his place Antigonus II, the last of the Hasmonean rulers. Herod was told he would be king, but first had the assignment of displacing Antigonus, who had been placed as ruler by the Parthians, enemies of Rome.
As King, Herod was successful as a ruler and also, he was famous for his building endeavors. He built:
- His Creativity:
a. The port at Ceasarea – located on the Mediterranean coast of northern Israel. It was to be the harbor from which Herod and others would sail to and from Alexandria, Egypt, and Rome. It appears to me that this is where Paul would have set sail from in Acts 27.1.
b. Herodium – located just south of Jerusalem. Josephus describes Herod’s massive fortress as a citadel created in memory of the great battles fought there. He adorned it with the most costly palaces, and erected very strong fortifications, and called it, from his own name Herodium.
c. Masada – probably Herod’s most famous fortress, of which he built many. Most famous because it was the last to fall to Rome in 73 AD.
d. The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem – don’t be too impressed. It was said of Herod that he built other temples to other foreign gods, too. He probably did this to help his relationship with the Jews. Although the rebuilding wouldn’t be complete for another 20 years after Christ died, the remodeling and rebuilding had been going on for some 46 years at the time of Jesus. John 2.18-20: 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
- His Paranoia: Herod saw success as a ruler and builder; however, he is probably most famous for his murderous ways. He had Antigonus killed to solidify his throne, as well as other members of the Hasmonean dynasty. He had members of his family put to death because he was suspicious of their motives. He always thought someone was trying to take his throne. He killed one of his 10 wives – Mariamme. What is so surprising is that she was his favorite. He was so protective of her that he ordered her killed if ever anything was to happen to him while traveling abroad. First, Herod killed Mariamme’s parents and then, when she continued to protest, he had her tried and executed. He later killed his two sons by her because he thought they were positioning themselves to take his throne. this idea had been planted by his oldest son, Antipater. Antipater experienced no advantage from their deaths because he, too, was killed by his father. I read two separate reports: one that reported just days before Herod himself died, he ordered his son to be executed. And the other that his son was to be executed at his death.
With this picture of Herod in mind – this picture of one so in Awe of himself, rd v 1-3 with me; rd v 1-3;
So, you can see why Herod was nervous about someone being born King of the Jews. He wanted all the glory – all of the awe. So desperate was he for the Awe of others that he ordered the execution of the Jewish elders who were being held in prison at his death. That way, Jerusalem would be filled with mourning at his death.
No wonder he was ‘stirred’ – troubled and all Jerusalem with him! He fought too hard to attain this place he held as King of the Jews. No wonder he will order the death of all boys two years and under down in v 16-18. He was threatened.
Transition: that’s what happens when we serve the god of self and do not surrender the throne of our heart to Christ. That’s what happens when we’re more in awe of ourselves than we are of Christ. But there’s a 2nd group who have a problem with this report.
- Awe of Religion: The Chief Priests & Scribes
What happens when we are awed by our religion and not our Savior? Awe of self and religion and anything not God blinds us to what is real. We see this happening to the Chief Priests and the Scribes.
Answer: People who are in awe of Religion and not the Savior are more worried about themselves, their position, and their money. Let’s get this straight: these guys missed their role as God’s servants. So ‘in to’ their religion are they, that they miss the reason for their king’s inquiry. Rd v 4; Here’s why they shouldn’t have missed this – Here are the facts:
- Herod doesn’t normally assemble them for their advice! He’s an Edomite and they’re not big fans of each other. Sure, he’s converted, but they don’t think he’s serious – and with good reason (remember the other temples to other gods?). He doesn’t ask them to assemble, he doesn’t meet with them, he never seeks their counsel!
- They understand this is the Messiah they’re being asked about. They have knowledge of this matter; Rd v 4; And they give an answer: the Christ, the Messiah, the promised one; rd v 5; . These guys have been praying and asking God to send Him. They’ve been watching and waiting for him to come; The opportunity arises and they miss it.
- Their apathy is evident in that they offer Herod a passage of Scripture, but no follow up. Rd v 5-6; it appears that no one follows them, no one even follows up on this inquiry. Why isn’t v 7; rd v 5-6 and add v 7, why do you ask? Does this have anything to do with the Magi who’ve come from the East?
app.: People who are in awe of Religion and not the Savior are more worried about themselves, their position, and their money. People who are in awe of Religion and not the Savior are more worried about their church, their ministry, their following and the financing it brings. This scares me when I think of end times. Are we so obtuse to the things of God that we’ll miss what’s in store because we’re in awe of ourselves and our religion?
Transition: God’s timing is Perfect in sending His Messiah. God’s timing is Problematic for those who oppose God’s Messiah, and 3rd,
II. God’s timing is not limited in scope to accomplishing the work of His Plan.
exp.: God didn’t choose to bring the Messiah into the world because he finally found the right couple with the right relatives. God didn’t say, oh, now is the time because there is a star floating toward Jerusalem and the right magi are in the east watching. This was all planned! Everything is at his disposal! Rd v 7-8; We’ve seen this so far in our passage.
- He uses the heavens: A Star – he controls the heavens; every single object in the heavens, whether shining or not is at his disposal. In 7 BC, an astronomical phenomenon occurred when Jupiter and Saturn intersected. There is another astronomical phenomenon occurred in Chinese records around 4 BC. We don’t know what was seen, but we do know the Chinese recorded the sighting of an evanescent star. Those earthly records don’t necessarily mean either one was this Star. What we do know is that this star was used of God as a sign in the heavens.
- He uses Pagan Magi – this is a reminder that God controls foreign governments; men who have studied secular teachings, Philosophy, Astronomy, Science, Mathematics. A reminder to us is the Creation Story. God said: “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years…
- He uses The Jewish leadership
- Herod – the King Rome put over the Jews
- Chief Priests & Scribes
- He uses Angels (Messengers to Announce)
- He uses common people like shepherds, Joseph, a carpenter, Mary, a young girl, Zecharias, a priest, Elizabeth, a wife, Simeon, an old man, Anna, an old woman.
As to God’s Timing: there is no limit to what God might use to accomplish His purpose. Nothing is hid from Him and unavailable. Nothing. Fourth and finally,
III. God’s timing is planned to ignite within us a Desire to Worship His Son and to sacrificially give him our lives.
exp.: rd v 9-12; I shared Galatians 4.4 with you earlier; Gal 4.4: 4 But when the fullness of time (χρόνος) had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
There is another verse I love which demonstrates this idea of perfect timing: Romans 5.6: 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Transition: Yes, it was an unexpected announcement – the Messiah was coming into the world. But the timing, it was perfect. All of history had moved in this direction. Thanks to Alexander the Great and the Greeks something wonderful had happened:
- The entire world had one common language: Greek – what a great way to spread this good news.
- There were roads connecting the countries. One could literally walk to Rome or China or Africa.
- For the most part, there was one over-arching government. Rome ruled the known world. You didn’t need a passport to take these roads to these other countries.
- Because of the Diaspora, Jews lived all around this world – the basis for Christianity. It was just the right time to spread the Gospel. God had brought it all together under his plan – to save humanity.
- Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews. For those wondering, we do not worship the same God as the Muslims. We worship God in three persons. The 2nd person in that trinity is Christ, the Messiah, the Long Awaited Savior of the World. His position as God demands your surrender.
- Of your life – in service to him.
- Of your possessions – sacrificed for him.
- Those are easily shifted from him to self – to possession, to religion… When you surrender all of who you are and all of what you have to him, you’re gaining a Awe of God.
- God’s purpose in all of this is to make his Son known to you. There isn’t anything that isn’t available for his use. Every single thing in the world and even in the universe is at his disposal, to make his Son known to you and worshiped by you. God will move the heavens and the earth, He’ll move the people around you, even the animals if he so desires. – All for the purpose of making his son known to you!
- The coming of Christ is problematic to people who do not want to worship him and brings out opposition for those who do. So, I’m calling on you today to pick a side. If you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ, would you today?