Category Archives: Matthew

Matthew 1:1-18

Title: News Stories

Text: Matthew 1.1-18

 

Introduction: Last week I mentioned that some stories are in some Gospels and other stories in them all. Most of the Gospels though chose the stories that worked with their themes – their goals. We have the genealogy of Christ in two Gospels; however, both are different: one traces the lineage of Joseph and the other of Mary. Matthew’s is found in chapter 1.

So we ask the question of last week: why? Why did Matthew use this genealogy list? It can be quite boring if you just read it like this: rd v7-10. There really is more here. I believe Matthew wants us to see more than a list of names.

On July 17, 1983, a small pro-Soviet Indian newspaper called the Patriot published a front-page article titled “AIDS may invade India: Mystery disease caused by US experiments.” The story cited a letter from an anonymous but “well-known American scientist and anthropologist” that suggested AIDS, then still a mysterious and deadly new disease, had been created by the Pentagon in a bid to develop new biological weapons.

“Now that these menacing experiments seem to have gone out of control, plans are being hatched to hastily transfer them from the U.S. to other countries, primarily developing nations where governments are pliable to Washington’s pressure and persuasion,” the article read.

The Patriot’s article was subsequently used as a source for an October 1985 story in the Literaturnaya Gazeta, a Soviet weekly with considerable influence at the time. The next year, it ran on the front page of a British tabloid. After that, it was picked up by an international news wire. By April 1987, it was suggested that the story had appeared in the major newspapers of more than 50 countries.

The problem? The story was patently false.

Ill. Cont.: Dr. John Johnson, CEO of Edgeward Economics asks in his Huffington Post article: How bad is the fake news phenomenon?

A man who was “self-investigating” a fake news story was arrested after shooting his assault rifle in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria.

President-Elect Trump fired a member of his transition team for sharing fake news.

And the Wall Street Journal is attracting new readers by promising their stories are “created, curated and checked in a real newsroom.”

The Pope jumped on the Fake News bandwagon this week and condemned it, calling it sin. Well, I’d have to agree – bearing false witness is one of those forbidden activities on the most famous top 10 lists ever: The Ten Commandments.

One older gentleman being interviewed said:  I miss the days of getting news the old fashioned way – having Walter Cronkite tell you.

Boy isn’t that true. With the Brian Williams scandal of NBC and the bias reporting in the media, whom can you trust? Many citizens feel like they can’t trust the news, newspapers or professional journalists.

Transition: Well here’s a news story that is different than most stories you hear. 1st of all…

I.     This story is true (1)

exp.: That’s what makes it so good: it’s true – as opposed to false! This isn’t star wars or some fairy tale. V 1 opens with this claim: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Here is a person and here is where he comes from.

This passage before us today outlines just what is important for us to realize, to absolutely know that it is valid and true. You see, the genealogy, especially for the Jew, validates one’s lineage and one’s heritage. What Matthew is declaring to us is that His story isn’t a myth. It isn’t false. This story you’re about to read is true.

News is supposed to be something that is simply reported. News has become relative to whatever anyone wants it to be. There was a time when news was something that you heard and for the most part, could believe it to be factual: 1. A building burned; 2. people died. News today seems to be like people are just trying to give you advice about what you should do or what you should believe or how you should feel. Reporters aren’t giving reports anymore: they’re citing their opinion. This story is different, though. Matthew is saying: The story you’re about to read is true…

t.s.: 2ndly, it is also real.

II.    This story is real (1-17)

exp.: Jesus was born to a momma and a daddy (16). He lived a life out in the public, which was witnessed by many. His story is real as opposed to fake.

I’m going to wonder aloud. I’m not passing judgment, mind you. I’m just wondering. I wonder if we hurt the Christmas story by all of the other false stories we tell during holiday times. I don’t just mean Christmas. I mean, any holiday – pick one. I don’t want to betray the fun some of your families have – our family, too – but if we tell these stories that are false, if they’re not real, then we run the risk of making this story appear false.

Daddy is that true? Well, no baby, it’s not. What about that one? No, little Johnny, that one isn’t true either. What about… eventually, the child comes to the nativity and wonders: is that one true? Let me encourage you: Yes, Virginia, There is a Messiah named Jesus.

Now, there are many who would lump Jesus in with all of the other holiday fables; however, I want to assure you that the parents of Jesus, which you see in the nativity, were real people. Their names are included in the two genealogies.

Here’s something else I wonder: Do we as preachers contribute to this delusion that the Christ story is a fable? Here’s what I mean:

ill.: When I was younger I preached a sermon on the Wise men: Wise men still seek him, Wise men still find him, Wise men still worship him. Are you a wise man? I was proud of that message. Now, not so much! By the way: I got an A for that sermon in my first preaching class!

app.: Here’s why I would be critical of a pastor who preached that message today: this story isn’t recorded for us to hold up as a moral to be taught. Be like them! I didn’t say this at the end of my sermon, but I could have said: And the moral of the story is… No, that was story recorded because it is true. If Mr. Cronkite could report on this, he’d say: And that’s the way it was…

t.s.: it is true… it is real…

III.   This story is unpredictable (1-17)

exp.: Here’s what I mean by that: many stories written throughout time appeal to the romantic or the daring or the adventurous. Those stories are patterned after this story. But what makes this story different is that it isn’t predictable. For example, most genealogies are used for validation.

ill.: Ezra 2.59 reads: 59 The following were those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, though they could not prove their fathers’ houses or their descent, whether they belonged to Israel…

At the end of the list of names and their numbers, Ezra continues: 62 These sought their registration among those enrolled in the genealogies, but they were not found there, and so they were excluded from the priesthood as unclean. 63 The governor told them that they were not to partake of the most holy food, until there should be a priest to consult Urim and Thummim.

Other genealogies were used because it gave the person prominence. That’s what Ezra does when he presents himself: rd 7.1-6;

Now after this, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest— this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.

The lineage was important (as demonstrated by Ezra) because it validated who they were and where they came from. Often times certain family members were removed if they gave a poor reference. The genealogy of Christ doesn’t remove people who might make Jesus look bad. Matthew presents a genealogy quite different from that of what we find in most genealogies. The first difference is:

  • Characters; in his genealogy you have prostitutes and kings; Manasseh and Rahab; I would say that Manasseh was probably the most evil king in Israel’s history. He is like the lowest of how low these kings get. Rahab appears to run a brothel. That would at a minimum make her a pimp. We don’t know all of her history, but we classify her as a prostitute. You have David and Tamar: David probably the greatest king throughout their storied history, and yet – an adulterer, a murder, a liar. Indeed, Bathsheba isn’t even mentioned by name, but rather we read in v 6 that she was the wife of Uriah. For those of you who don’t know: David had a group of men who were kind of like the Secret Service. They were his closest military warriors. Uriah was one of those Mighty Men. David had an adulterous relationship with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. Then, in order to cover his sinful behavior, he had Uriah killed. So, it is interesting for us that Mathew doesn’t just say: David, Solomon, Rehoboam. Instead, he mentions Uriah by name, drawing attention to this man’s sinful behavior. Tamar played the prostitute with her father-in-law (Genesis 38). She pretended to be a cult prostitute of a pagan deity. Characters… the 2nd difference is…
  • Gender: most genealogies are patriarchal; You’ll note the four women listed here:
    • Tamar (3)
    • Rahab (5)
    • Ruth (5)
    • Bathsheba (6), some folks add
    • Mary down in v16; would be the 5th; I put her in Luke’s list; however, it is interesting to note the similarities between these women and Mary. There is a 3rd difference:
  • Race or Ethnicity: Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites; Ruth was from Moab; Most Jews would only name Jews in their genealogy to show purity to their heritage.

app.: Matthew demonstrates for us some people with shady stories in the genealogy of Jesus which I don’t think we could have predicted if we’d had written it ourselves.

t.s.: The Good News is a true and a real story. It is filled with characters you could not have predicted would be listed. And finally,

IV.  This story really is Good News! (17)

exp.: Mark 1.1 begins with: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The word gospel translated into English is most literally: good news or a good message. rd v 17; 14 generations in the 1st section and 14 in the 2nd; and ditto in the 3rd. Actually, if you count them up it’s 13, 14, 13 respectively. But from what I understand this was a common practice to alternate and use a name to start the next section with which you just finish with – and you count it both times.

I’ve heard of people through the years playing math tricks with this passage. The term is Gematria (Geh-may-tree-ah) and it concerns the numeric value of Hebrew words; I’m not smart enough to give any credence or discredit them, but let me just give you an example: the numeric value of the name David in Hebrew is 4+6+4 = 14; There are 14 generations in each section: Abraham to the Kings; from the Kings to the exile; from the exile to Christ. David is the 14th entry; But listen – I think there is more to this than just numbers. But there is a point made by Tim Keller dealing with this issue of numbers that makes a lot of sense to me.  This is especially highlighted for me since taking a sabbatical. Here’s what we learn about the 4th commandment and the ties to it.

  • The Sabbath is the 7th It is to be a day of rest; it’s what God did; it’s what he has commanded us to do;
  • 7 Sabbaths from the Passover to Pentecost;
  • Every 7th year – the fields were to lie fallow (rest);
  • 50th year was the year of Jubilee; The plan of God was for the Jews, his people, to set their slaves free; and the forgiveness of debt; the restoration of land to the family to which it belonged; etc.
  • In our text, we have six 7’s. Christ ushers in the 7th Seven; there is something very special about this new era. It should be a time of rest, and freedom from bondage, restoration.

t.s.: this story is so unique; the genealogy brings truth and reality; it doesn’t dress the story up, but instead presents parts that most people would avoid (gender, race, black sheep); it presents us with hope, that by faith, we can find peace, rest, forgiveness.

Conclusion: And isn’t that really where Matthew is pointing us – to the Christ who would bring us all of these things and more? And that is the real news story today…

But, I think all of this still points to one overall arching fact. The fact that this good news is evidence that God keeps his promises. All of these stories add up to a really long time! Many people looked with hope for the promise, but never saw it realized. And that’s where faith comes in! These people looked forward in faith that God would do as he promised. They understood that God is a covenant keeper.

So, yeah, this story is good news for you and me today because it is true and real and filled with messy people. But what’s more, it is good news because God keeps his promises. And because of this, you and I can look forward to the promises yet to be fulfilled.

Let’s pray:

Invitation:

 

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Matthew 2

Title: Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?

Text: Matthew 2

Introduction: Matthew 2 is unique to the Christmas story. Luke doesn’t tell these stories. Neither do Mark or John. When I was younger, I would often wonder why one of the gospel writers would choose to tell a story that the others didn’t. What was it about that particular story? Take this story, for example: why?

Well, I’ve come to understand through time that each writer has a purpose to his book. You can usually find their purpose set up at the beginning and the end of their books. In hermeneutics we call this the top and the tail. For Matthew we find a phrase here and at the end of the book: The King of the Jews. Pilate asks Jesus plainly: Are you the King of the Jews? Here, the wise men come seeking this one who has been born King of the Jews. Bookends. Top and tail.

But there is more: within each story are lessons for us. That is probably closer to the answer than the top and the tail. Paul wrote in Romans 15: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. God is using Matthew’s stories to draw us in and show us a little about ourselves. So let’s looks for ourselves. I’ve outlined Mt 2 for us like this:

  1. Feeling Threatened
  2. Coming Undone
  3. The Paradox of Christ’s Kingdom

Transition: let’s begin with point #1…

I.     Feeling Threatened (1-10)

exp.: Boy! Who wouldn’t? Think about this: you’re a king. You’re sitting on your throne. A large delegation comes from a far away country. Their camels are loaded with gifts. These magistrates, these important political leaders from this a far away country enter with pomp and circumstance. Why have you come to see the King? We’ve come to inquire as to where is this one who has been born King of the Jews? Our text says that Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him. And rightfully so, because Herod was well known for his treatment of those he thought threatened his throne. His wife…which by the way, he had a few, but she was his favorite…he had his wife killed because he thought she wanted her son to take his place. Oh, and he killed his son, too (others in his family, as well). I’m sure the thought was: whatever you make the King think, don’t make him think you want his throne!

The King summons the religious leaders as to where ‘this one’ would be born. They consult the Scripture and find that he is to be born in Bethlehem. So Herod tells them and sends them on their way with this one ‘request’: when you find him, let me know, in order that I too may come and worship him. And we know he’s lying!

But, God was at work protecting his son. So, he warned the Magi in a dream to go home by a different route. And so they did. Not only did God warn them in a dream, but he warned Joseph, too. So, Joseph packed up his family and fled to Egypt.

When we get to v 16, we read that Herod was furious. That alone demonstrates his heart for us. But he went further – he wanted this baby king dead; rd v 16:  16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

ill.: I think it is interesting…timely maybe, that at this time in our history, there are many refugees, millions even, fleeing that part of the country…fleeing from war, persecution, famine and, like this family here in the Bible, oppression. This past week a refugee became disgruntled and jumped a curb at Ohio State University. He then jumped out of his vehicle and started slashing people with a knife. He didn’t kill anyone, but himself. He injured something like 11 people. So, this issue is before us, almost on a daily basis. If you think about it, Jesus and his family were refugees. They did like many are doing today; they fled across the border to Egypt where there was a large Jewish population.

app.: Now, these two stories (the Somali refugee and King Herod) point us in the direction I think Matthew is wanting us to go. We want answers. Why would someone go off like that? – Either one of them? Some would argue against the rich and the powerful. They did this! Think Trump and the post-election demonstrations going on across the US. Others would argue that this comes from the poor, disgruntled people: those on the other end of the spectrum. But I think Matthew’s point is that the answer is a much larger section of people. Think really big because the Bible teaches us that this wickedness is in every person’s heart; including yours and mine.

Transition: which brings me to my 2nd point…

II.    Coming Undone (3)

exp.: this can actually be seen in two ways:

  1. Coming undone: as in coming apart; losing it; trying to kill or destroy what threatens your kingdom and authority. This is what we see in King Herod of Matthew 2.
  2. Coming undone: as in recognizing Jesus as King and removing yourself from the throne of your heart. Surrendering to Jesus and crowning him Lord and King of your life.

You see, this 2nd definition is much harder to accomplish. Your and my natural tendency is to become angry and fight against giving up our heart’s throne.

Jeremiah 17.9: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Think about this: if you want to be king of your own heart and someone comes and tells you that you don’t belong there – that there is someone who is really the King – you’re going to fight that. Those are fighting words. When someone says that Jesus is Lord and if anyone would come after him, they must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow him, they’re calling for total allegiance. No one can serve two masters: either you’re king of your heart or Jesus is. King Herod isn’t the only one with this problem. You and I suffer from the same malady.

Romans 8.7 tells us why it is that way: For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. “Hostile toward God”; you and I have a natural tendency toward self-preservation and self-centeredness. We think to ourselves: No one is going to tell me what to do.

Even if you’re a Christian, your natural tendency is to fight it. So a battle rages everyday. We have to fight it every single day of our lives because it isn’t natural to surrender our heart. That is why it is so hard for us to pray. I’m talking about intense, “get on your knees and fight like a man,” kind of prayer.

Paul really brings this to light in Romans 7, where he says: 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Why is this? It is because you and I have a little king Herod inside of us that wants to fight to sit on that throne.

app.: But, when you and I come to the realization the this story of Christ, born in a manger is true, we must surrender to that – every day. That is why you and I must become undone – not the King Herod way, but the Isaiah way and say: Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

t.s.: Well, part three is…

III.   The Paradox of Christ’s Kingdom (19-23)

exp.:  As we’ve been making our way through Isaiah on Wednesday nights I’ve been struggling with the prophecies concerning this King Jesus. My struggle is identifying exactly which ‘coming’ of Jesus Isaiah is talking about. You see, according to Scripture, Jesus is coming twice. The 2nd coming will be in power. It will bring to an end all evil and suffering. When Christ came the 1st time though, it was in a totally different way. That’s what threw so many off – and still confuses many today. For example:

  • He wasn’t born into pomp and circumstance; his 1st bed was a feeding trough for animals. He wasn’t born in a palace in Jerusalem, but rather in a home in Bethlehem to common, poor folks.
  • He grew up in Nazareth. Matthew 2.19-23 teaches us about the family’s return to Israel. Rd 19-23; Instead of Judea, they returned to Galilee; instead of Jerusalem, they went back to Nazareth. That doesn’t mean much to you and me, but for Israelites, they new that Nazareth wasn’t the place to be from. In John 1.45 Philip found Nathaniel and told him they had found the Messiah – the one Moses and the prophets wrote about. Philip said: Jesus, of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. Nathaniel replied: Nazareth? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

ill.: Do you guys remember the movie Blast from the Past with Brennan Frazier? In that movie, Adam, played by Frazier, is warned by his mother to avoid women from Pasadena. I’m guessing people from California found that funny. But, for you and me, those of us not from California, we understood what she was saying: Can anything good come out of Pasadena?

app.: here’s where I’m going with this: This 1st time around Christ did things in a way that didn’t draw people naturally to him. For some reason, God has chosen the weak things to confound the strong and the wise. He’s always done that:

  • Isaac over Ishmael
  • Jacob over Esau
  • Leah over Rachel – the one who was not loved over the one who was…
  • He chose the Jews to be his people in a land that isn’t even very attractive. How odd of God to chose the Jews. Why not Rome or Greece or Babylon – some rich, powerful nation? No, that hasn’t been his style.
  • Oh the list goes on: David over his older brothers; Ephraim over Manasseh; Abel over Cain;

app.: Here is what Matthew is leading to: Jesus, through his weakness would bring victory and salvation to the World. He would save us – not with a sword, but on a cross. He would never really own anything, never really travel anywhere outside of the few miles he lived. He would never acquire degrees, or accolades. He would never hold office or invent something that everyone needs. He wouldn’t become rich and powerful.

t.s.: So, what? Where do we land when we come to this conclusion?

Conclusion: I think we all need to go through these three steps.

  1. Feeling Threatened: we need to recognize that feeling and desire to be king of our lives. We need to see that rebellious attitude we have toward God. We need to see that by nature, we are at enmity, we are enemies, we are hostile toward God’s declaration that he must be King and not us. We must identify that threat. And then 2ndly,
  2. Coming Undone: Then, we need to come undone! Not like Herod, but rather like Isaiah. We must recognize our tendency and desire to be king of our own hearts and then surrender all of that to God. The Bible calls that repenting of our sin. It means acknowledging that God is right and we’re wrong. When He calls s sinners, and says that all have sinned – all have rebelled – that there is none righteous, no not one – He means you and me. And that means daily taking up our cross, denying ourselves as king and following him.
  3. Living the Paradox of Christ Kingdom: to quote St. Francis of Assisi:

It is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Make me an instrument of your peace,

I want to know what its like to follow you.

When men look at me, I want them to see,

The Light of the World inside.

 

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Title: False Christmas Traditions

Text: Luke 2.1-7

Introduction: The traditional Christmas story… note the picture in the title page;

So how off is the traditional story from what Scripture clearly shows…let’s look at some parts to the story that aren’t in the Bible; Luke 2.1

What a great beginning! Caesar Augustus; The Roman Empire lasted hundreds of years and there were many Caesars. But this Caesar is considered:

  • The greatest of all Caesars.
  • It has been said that when he became Caesar, Rome was made of Rock. And when he died, Rome was made of Marble.
  • There is an inscription, which has been uncovered and discovered in our generation that reads of Caesar Augustus: The son of God and The Savior of the World.
  • He was born into a wealthy family and inherited his role from the famous Julius Caesar.
  • He ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD
  • Indeed, the Gregorian Calendar’s 8th month is named in his honor: August

Rd v 2; thing to note: this is the 1st registration while Quirinius is Gov of Syria; I like the preposition before better: this was the 1st registration before Quirinius was governor of Syria. rd v 3-4; this is beautiful staging: From the ruler of the known world, to the region of Quirinius, down to a young man and his wife and their journey to their town…Bethlehem; From the richest, most powerful man in the world down to the lowliest of peasants; but what an incredible contrast:

  • Born to lowly peasants
  • To no great fan fare
  • He truly would become the Savior of the World.
  • He wouldn’t have day or a month named after him, but He would restructure the way time was counted and every date would be ascribed in reference to his birth BC & AD! What is truly funny is that academia has successfully changed the way these things are recorded. Modern scholars are now using BCE & CE as in Before the Common Era and The Common Era. But, nonetheless, the dates are still set by Christ.

Speaking of dates, here is my 1st Fallacy:

I.     Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th.

We don’t really know the date. Jewish historian Josephus placed the death of Herod in the spring of 4 B.C. between a lunar eclipse on March 12 and the Passover on April 11. Not in December, but probably in the Fall of 5 BC. Truth is, we just don’t know.

So, according to Scripture, we’re only given a time period.

Transition: at this point, we don’t have a date, but we a time… 2nd fallacy,

II.    There was No Donkey – ill.: Small One; That’s right, there is no donkey or burro mentioned in Scripture. It is at the end of his life, but not here. I remember having this conversation in Bible Study a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, there is no Donkey. She probably walked with Joseph. She could have ridden a donkey, but there isn’t any evidence that she did. #3…

III.    They were not Late Arrivals. When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had already been in Bethlehem – probably for some time.

exp.: we think of Joseph struggling to get to Bethlehem; maybe travel was harder because his wife was slowing him down? So, he got a donkey for her to ride on because she’s so close to giving birth. No, the text actually tells us that they were there for a period of time before she gave birth. Luke give us this double entendre to clarify: KJV And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. KJV, v 1; v15; same here in v 6 – Lit.: And it came to pass ‘while they are there’; You see, Joseph and Mary would have had plenty of time to make arrangements for lodging; just note:

  • This is his family’s hometown – he could have reproduced his simple heritage; he was royalty; the son of Jacob, the son of Eleazar; Or,
  • Mary’s family was just down the road in the ‘hill country of Judea’

ill.: I haven’t lived in Copperas Cove since 1989. I was only at Robertson Avenue Baptist Church for just over two years. Yet, my sons could travel there today and find a place to stay in someone’s home – someone who knows us and would remember them.

app.: Joseph isn’t some sort of uncaring, unprepared husband; One more point here: I find it hard to believe that this little community would reject her in her labor. I don’t imagine there is a place in the world – a civilization in the world that would reject a woman in labor. Maybe some place with ethnic cleansing and war – but that’s not the case here.

t.s.: Fallacy # 4;

IV.   Jesus was not born in a barn.

exp.: or a cave; rd v 7; so she gives birth, to her ‘first born’ son; lit.: she wraped him in cloths; she swaddled him; My all time favorite description of this came from Joshua Webb: She made a burrito baby; the text says she laid him in a manger. Well, to the western mind, that would mean a barn. But, that’s not the case in this time Period in the Holy Land.

The 1st question for us here is: just what is a manger? This word manger is popular in Scripture. Each time it is used, it means the same thing: a feeding trough for an animal; say a goat, a lamb or a cow; we as East Texans in 2015 know that you feed your cows outside or in a barn; but those from the Middle East see this differently;

The key isn’t found in the word ‘manger’ but rather in the next set of words which record the reason for why she laid him in a feed trough; Now, I’m going to use the KJV again, because that is the most popular version of the Christmas story and the one that has established what we believe. We start with the word because: KJV/NASB – because there was no room for them in the inn.

  • No Room – lit.: place or space; two popular words in Gk for our Eng. word place; this word here is the most popular; 1. is to place or stand something there; the 2nd, is topos – meaning space; Meaning: if I said: put it over there in that space; You might respond: I can’t…there isn’t enough room! That’s what this word here means – there wasn’t enough space for them there. It doesn’t mean there were no rooms available for rent. We don’t have time to look at all 90 times this word appears, but move down a couple of chapters to Lk 4.17: 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written.

Now there is a 2nd word we need to look at here in this verse – because there was no room for them in the inn.

  • Inn –the word is κατάλυμα and it appears 3x’s in the NT; most lit.: a shelter or a dwelling; this word appears here; and again in Lk in 22.7-12(11); Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” So Luke uses this same word to describe a room added to a house. Guest room; 3rd time in Mk 14.14 – which is the same story;

Here’s the problem with because there was no room for them in the inn. I have 26 English translations; and 23 of them translate this word ‘inn’. My guess is the translators didn’t want to change what people had come to know as tradition. In keeping with the King James and tradition; one translation (NLT) says: no lodging was available; which insinuates an inn; and TNIV – no guest room was available; which still hints at an inn; YLT is the closest – because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber.

Added to this: Matthew 2 tells us the story of the Magi who came from the east seeking this baby who was born King of the Jews. They found him in a house. Now here’s why I have a problem with this word being translated Inn. Is there a word for inn in the Bible? Yes, and it just so happens that Luke uses it; πανδοχεῖον; 10.29-35 (34, 35);

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

In this story, we have the word for inn and the word for innkeeper. If Luke had wanted us to know that Mary and Joseph couldn’t find a room at the inn, he would have used this word or these words.

But, there is even more evidence.

exp.: let me show you the blueprints for a typical house as drawn up from archeological evidence from that time period and for centuries before and after; show pictures. 1) side view; 2) top view 3) top view w/ kataluma 4) top view 2/ side Kataluma

But what is most important for us in asking: Was it really that way? – is for us to see what Scripture says – Can I take a moment and tell you how important this is – we must use Scripture as our basis – our standard!

1 Sam 28.24 – 24 Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it, 25 and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night;

Judges 11.29-40; 29 Then the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”

This understanding of the home brings clarity to such passages as:

  1. Matt 5.14-15: 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house; how many of you can light a candle and it will give light to your whole house? It did for these people because there was only one room to the whole house!
  2. Luke 13.10-17; 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
  3. Mk 7.35: 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. She was untied, released…just as they had done to their animals that morning; Kenneth Bailey, in his book Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, quotes from the Arabic Bible, translated in the 9th Century: Does not everyone of you untie his ox or his donkey from the manger in the house and take it outside and water it? There is no “in the house” in the GK, but this Arabic speaking Christian in the 9th Century understood the text and the culture.

I think the story of the shepherds, which follows in Chronological order, then makes even more sense. These folks were the lowliest of people. Uneducated, poor; Q: why in the world would they be invited to see the King of Kings? If they went, they’d probably be turned away! But no, here is a sign for you: rd v 8-12; Ok, let me stop here and give you fallacy #5…

V.     The Angels didn’t sing

And the Angel said to them: rd v 11-12; you’ll find the baby swaddled…just as other common folk would care for their newborn babies; and 2nd, he’d be lying in a manger…not in some mansion or governor’s home, but rather in a home like theirs!

Suddenly, there is a host of angels! Rd v 13-14; Again, they didn’t sing but said: Praising God and Saying; rd v 15-16; Question: If they’d found the child and their family left out in the cold and rejected by Bethlehem’s residents, don’t you think one of them would have intervened? …Especially, after the announcement by the Angel!

Conclusion:

  • Mary & Joseph were not late in arriving to Bethlehem.
  • Jesus was not born in a barn, and not in the guest room because it was already in use. He was most likely born in a home just like other babies in the era.
  • One room homes were assumed by the listeners of Jesus: Matt & Luke
  • The word translated room is topos; meaning spacee.: because there was no space for them in the guest room: kataluma: vs 7 she wrapped in him swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because that is where she was staying…in the house, not the guest room, because there was no space for them in the guest room.
  • The Magi visited the house where they stayed (cf. Mt 2.11)
  • This is how middle easterners thought and translated from the Greek over a 1,000 years ago (800’s)

Curious to hear from the many members who are from other countries as to what their home language records…

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Mt 2.1-12; Lk 2.1-20

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 TimeHis 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

  1. God’s Timing is Problematic
  2. God’s Timing is Not Limited in Scope to accomplishing His Plan
  3. 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

  1. 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
  2. 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. 
  3. Hemera: day, in the day of Herod (in the time of King Herod)
  4. 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: But when the fullness of time (χρόνος) had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 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;

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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…
  3. He uses The Jewish leadership
    1. Herod – the King Rome put over the Jews
    2. Chief Priests & Scribes
  4. He uses Angels (Messengers to Announce)
  5. 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: But when the fullness of time (χρόνος) had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 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:

  1. The entire world had one common language: Greek – what a great way to spread this good news.
  2. There were roads connecting the countries. One could literally walk to Rome or China or Africa.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Take-a-ways:

  1. 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.
    1. Of your life – in service to him.
    2. Of your possessions – sacrificed for him.
    3. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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?

 

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Matthew 1.18-25

Title: Proclaimed Unexpectedly

Text: Matthew 1.18-25

Introduction: Let’s gain some context here of the overall Christmas Sermon Series.

I’m breaking it 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 TimeHis Story in our Time. Matthew 2.1-12

We began with the Fall. We continued through history as we looked at the lineage of Christ. What a storied lineage! We saw Real People, with Real Struggles. We saw sinful people used of God to accomplish his plan. Last week we saw undeserving people be used of God in glorious ways. I think of Bathsheba being chosen over Abigail. And, why Judah and not Joseph? The List goes on… We learned last week that God was working throughout Old Testament History to fulfill his promises and his plans. The continuance of family lines listed for priestly heritage and royal lineage in Matthew and Luke are due to God’s miraculous, gracious intervention. The story continues this morning with the interruption of the normal. Life is moving along just fine. Real people have dreams, plans, and expectations…

And then you have this unexpected proclamation: rd v 18; 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. In this way is the Gk word οὕτως. I’m sure you’re familiar with this word, οὕτως. It appears in John 3.16, It’s the 1st word in the Gk text, the 3rd word in the English text. For God… so loved the world. That is, most literally, if we use these words here Matthew 1.18, In this way, God loved the world, he gave his One and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

In this way… this is the manner… in which Jesus, the Messiah was born. And then, Matthew gives us a timeline. We read When in the English. The Gk is one word: Lit.: having been betrothed. This one word tells us so much. It’s an Aor. Pass. Ptc. Passive, meaning she didn’t do this – someone promised her to someone else. Someone gave her to this man, our text says, to Joseph. My guess is that Joseph and Mary’s father had already worked out the details for this marriage. The Jewish Custom and practice would have brought these men together to discuss this matter of marriage. I’m fairly confident that Mary’s dad shared the information with Mary’s mom. This arrangement would not be entered into lightly. There would be discussions, meetings, and bargaining. Both sides of the deal would be ok with the arrangement.

Everyone loves a wedding. Not everyone loves the planning, the work, the detail – ugh! But, that one hour or so for the ceremony, when a man and a woman join themselves together in holy matrimony… priceless. In Israel, according to their Jewish custom, all I’ve mentioned would have taken place: meetings and discussions and an agreement and a public announcement. For one year this couple would be pledged or betrothed to each other. They would enjoy the privileges of marriage, except for one last final step – the actual marriage ceremony. The Jewish words describing these ceremonies would be:

  1. The Kidushin – betrothal (pledge) to be betrothed means that one has pledged their ‘troth’ to another; their truth or fidelity;
  2. The Huppa (Wedding ceremony – one year later); this is the ceremony we read about in Cana of Galilee.

t.s.: It is in between these two times that tragedy strikes with an unexpected discovery.

I.    An Unexpected Discovery (18)

exp.: rd 18b;

  1. The Timing – note the words: before they came together, she was found to be with child. : Before their coming together – I think this is the huppa ceremony. I don’t think this is specifically referring to the consummation of the marriage. I think this is a statement that includes everything about the Huppa. Yes, it would intimate there has been no consummation of the marriage, but it is more than that. Before their coming together – found in the belly having.
  2. It was discovered that she was pregnant! γαστρὶ; γαστήρός, belly – a medical term today. This word ‘found’ is used to describe the adultery or fornication. Found is used in others way, too. But, when in this context – its bad. Like Sleep is a normal word in our vocabulary, but sometimes its used in ugly ways to describe… just what we’re talking about here. Of this word found, look at

Deut. 22.20ff: 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

  1. There is humiliation:
    1. For the family. Both mom and dad are humiliated. They have to face Joseph. They have to face the community! Remember, Mary still lives at home. The family will suffer tremendously from external pressure.

You know of the arranged marriages in that culture; these exist today; ill.: our missionaries serve in a country where there are arranged marriages; one of the struggles is that these young ladies surrender their lives to Christ and are then married to men who don’t know Christ;

2.  For Joseph. His arrangement is moving along as expected, except for one small detail – before they came together she was found to be with child; “oh yeah, and by the way, Mary’s pregnant.” He’d have to be told. Maybe he was suspected of being the Father. That would be an accusation against his character – against his integrity. Can you imagine the tough conversations in their home with Mary? The parents trying to get information out of her: Who is the father? What is this you’ve done? What were you thinking? Joseph has to feel this, too.

app.: So, it is during this one year period that it is discovered she is pregnant – and that, not by Joseph, but by others: probably her family and those closest to her. And Joseph doesn’t know the last part of that verse yet…by the Holy Spirit. Listen, there are some secrets you can hide. Others you can’t…

t.s.: So, 1st we see a discovery that will change their lives; and her unexpected discovery will lead to an unexpected divorce.

II.    An Unexpected Divorce (19-20a)

Ill.: Really, who plans for a divorce before one gets married? Do you remember It’s a Wonderful Life. At the end of the movie, when all of George Bailey’s friends are bringing him money and dumping it all in a giant punch bowl. There is a woman…her name is Annie. She worked for Baileys’ in the early part of the movie. At the end, she comes running in with all of George’s friends and dumps her money in the giant bowl. She says: I’ve been saving this money for a divorce, ifn I ever find a man.

#2: more real to life, I remember back in the Army we had rushed to some place to stand in line. That’s one thing I remember about the army… hurry up and wait. Any, this once, we were all lined up and just talking amongst ourselves. The soldier in front of me was talking about this wedding he had planned where he and his girl were going to the JOP. I was like: why don’t you get married in a church? He said: next time I’ll get married in a church. What? He tried clarifying, but the rest of us were in stitches that this guy was already planning for this marriage to fail. Then, the next time he got married would be in a church. Eventually he convinced us that wasn’t what he meant.

exp.: I’m sure divorce never crossed Joseph’s mind. That is, until the unexpected occurred; The main part of the sentence, that is, the subject and the verb we read: Lit.: Joseph, her man, resolved to divorce her. rd v 19a; Now, there is so much more in this sentence; however, this is the message – he is going to take legal action against her and her family. Let that sink in for a moment.

Can you go there? Can you imagine the pain that seared his soul? The Bible records here that he was a righteous man. δίκαιος; What happened to good things come to good people? It doesn’t appear that he dwells on this for too long. A decision has to be made – a baby is coming – and this baby is not his. Here are his options:

  1. Complete the Marriage Vows and seal the deal. He can marry a girl who obviously loves someone else.
  2. Divorce her in the midst of this engagement and break the deal.

He chooses what’s behind door #2 – Divorce. It really is divorce – for this culture, this time, this practice. Today, people just break off the engagement. And in today’s society, statistics show us that the couple is probably already cohabitating and has already consummated the relationship. These two, Mary & Jospeh, they’re married w/ two main exceptions:

  • They’ve not consummated the relationship
  • She still lives w/ her parents – she doesn’t live with him.

So divorce it is and aren’t too many options available for him in obtaining this Divorce:

  1. His Rights: The Law said that such a crime deserved death – but that probably wasn’t going to happen.

Deut. 22.20ff: 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

The penalty was higher for the daughter of a priest; Lev 21.9; And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire. Any daughter of a priest should be burned to death; so, he could have put her to death…but not really. The laws in that day had been changed and altered and explained in a way that it wasn’t really that common. You remember the crucifixion? The Jews couldn’t just execute someone according to their laws – They had to have the approval of the Roman Court. My guess is that the divorce at this time would be putting her to public shame and humiliation – and not just her, but her whole family.

  1. His Heart: But here’s the thing with Joseph; rd v 19b – he is unwilling to put her to shame; Gk word 2x’s; Col 2.15: 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. So, death isn’t a reality and a public trial is out of the question; but he could have really broken her spirit; this little comment says so much about his character, his kindness – even toward one who has hurt him! So, He is resolved in his heart to divorce her quietly;

Ill.: The father probably received a dowry for her; (they lose a worker, the other family gains one); if the marriage were to be dissolved, there needed to be a returning of the dowry; λάθρᾳ (lathra); lathroscopic; privately or quietly; Acts 16.37; But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? Why? Because of the 1st statement…he is just, righteous; Acting in righteousness, he is acting just like Jesus; Isaiah gives a picture of Christ in the Suffering Servant; one of those – ch. 42.1ff reads…

42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my Spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations.

        He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

        a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice.

        He will not grow faint or be discouraged

till he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his law.

Joseph looked beyond the punitive measures of the law to meet the needs of a young teen whose life had been radically changed. She was bruised and burnt out, but he didn’t break her or snuff her spirit out.

Joseph is going to divorce her, but he doesn’t want to expose her to public shame and humiliation. So, he’s going to divorce her quietly. Here’s what’s so interesting for me: He chooses to do this when he’s hurting so bad. I think his pain has been implied in the fact that he wants to get a divorce. But there is more here.

  1. His Pain. I think that Matthew wants us to see this here in the next verse (20a); this word, is only used one other time: here and it is also in
    1. Matthew (9.4); But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? their thoughts were evil. Thoughts lead to actions. Joseph’s thoughts are leading to divorce.
    2. Gen 6.6 (LXX; regret); And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
    3. Now, one more comment about this word. It’s a compound word, and part of this word is used by Matthew just a few sentences down in Matt 2, as he describes Herod and ‘all of Jerusalem’ (troubled, disturbed, angry, most lit.: stirred); I think as he considered these things; literally means, he’s in turmoil; there is sorrowful regret that he ever entered into this agreement, engagement. But most important, note is the timing – lit.: while he is in turmoil…behold, an angel of the Lord…rd v 20b-23;

t.s.: So, Matthew shows us 1st, this unexpected discovery – her pregnancy, leads to plans of an unexpected divorce. It would appear the decision had been made – He resolved in his heart…, but once again, we’re surprised with

III.   An Unexpected Decision

exp.: Instead of divorce proceedings, he follows through in obedience to the angel of the Lord’s commands. Note: four specific details show us his obedience and submission to God’s will:

  • He did
  • He took
  • He knew her not
  • He named

Conclusion: We read in Luke about a census for taxation purposes. More than one commentary stated that Women didn’t have to go along on these journeys to handle the legal matter of registering for the census. So, why did Joseph bring Mary along? Maybe he was concerned for her back home with what the people knew (or assumed they knew). Maybe he didn’t want to leave her to have the baby alone; Maybe, he wanted to bring her along because he knew the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem; Whatever his reason, even in her state, he brought her along which demonstrates a deep kindness and just how much he cares for Mary.

 

(Pause)

 

Transition: Thinking of their story has me pondering life. You know, if we lived up further north, we might be getting snow. But you never know. The sports channel reported rain for Green Bay today. you’d think the Cowboys would be in snow. The thing is, you just never know. The Truth is we plan. We work. We hope. We dream. But we’re really not in control of this thing, are we?

John 4.35: 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. I think the teaching of Jesus in this verse is applicable to this story and your story today. You see, really, it’s His Story. When you say 4 more months, you’re thinking in the physical. And, yeah, they’ll probably be a harvest of wheat or apples or something then. But Jesus is speaking of the Spiritual.

Observations:

  1. Maybe your story of struggle this morning seems physical, but really it is more spiritual in nature.
    1. Maybe God’s using your trial to teach you something
    2. Maybe God is wanting to bring something about – and it’s not about you.
    3. If you think your struggle is all about you, you’ll miss some great opportunities to share the love of Christ.
  2. Your life touches others. The decisions, the actions, the reactions, the obedience – it all touches others around you.
    1. Don’t you find it interesting that God didn’t say, no, we can’t do it this way, it’ll be too embarrassing for the family. We don’t want to do that because it’s gonna hurt someone’s feelings.
  3. God is at work in it all. You might not see it – more than likely you can’t. But maybe, just maybe, God is at work in your discussions, your embarrassment, your humiliation, your pain, your struggle.

I like to think of Peter and his weeping in a dark corner. I picture him struggling with what he thought would be and what was happening: Christ crucified. He was in pain. His plans were all dashed. Everything he’d worked for over the last 3 years or more had dissipated before his eyes. But God’s plans were greater! Will you trust that God is at work this morning?

 

 

 

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Matthew 1.1-17

Title: Prepared Throughout History

Text: Matthew 1.1-17

Introduction: Let’s gain some context here of the overall Christmas Sermon Series.

I’m breaking it 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 TimeHis Story in our Time. Matthew 2.1-12

We began with the Fall. God promised a messiah in Gen 3.15. The promises of the seed of Eve and the Enemy were fulfilled in both the individual and the collective. Do you remember the story of the skull crushing battle won by David, as he faced Goliath? I gave some examples of that prophecy fulfilled throughout the O.T. and of course, the prophecy fulfilled in the individual, the man, Jesus.

Today, I’d like to work our way through history to show more of God’s plan and how he was always at work fulfilling his plan.

Usually when I begin a passage of Scripture I like to gain a perspective of the context. The passage before and the passage after usually help me in this regard. Well, Before we have the O.T. – Malachi. What is the last bit of information Malachi gives before the Lord goes silent for 400 plus years. Rd 4.5-6; This is prophecy about John the Baptist, the one who would prepare the way of the Lord! Luke 1 clarifies this for us: 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

So the preface is about the Messiah and the “Elijah” who would come and announce his coming. Look at the passage that follows the Genealogy; You have a subtitle which begins the passage; what does it say? rd v 18: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.

So in case you miss it somehow, Matthew clarifies in v 1 & 17 of his topic: Jesus, the Messiah.

What I find so interesting is that Matthew decided to introduce his letter this way – with a genealogy. Genealogy! How boring, right? How many of you, now, be honest, how many of you, when you come to the genealogy in the Bible – here or elsewhere, you skim it? Just be honest and show us by raising your hand. Let’s pray for these pagans!

We’ve read the text this morning already and so let’s dig into the text. I think the text illustrates for us three main teaching points.

  1. God uses real people to accomplish his plan.
  2. God uses sinful people to accomplish his plan.
  3. His Plan is all about keeping his promises.

As I make my way through each teaching point, I’d like to do something I don’t usually do. I came up with the idea this morning while reviewing my message: I want to elaborate on the stories. Now, I’ve got to be careful, so, I’m going to keep a close eye on the time, so as to not stray too far. However, with your permission, and even more so, the Lord’s blessing, I’d like to tell some stories from the Bible as they come to me. I know, I know this is scary, but humor me – give me a little leeway. It is after all the holidays.

So, with that in mind, let’s begin with the 1st point…

  1. God uses real people to accomplish his plan. (2-6a)

He breaks through the time barrier, which doesn’t hold him captive as it does us, and accomplishes his purposes and goals. What is most interesting to me about his work is that he chooses to use real people in real places with real problems to bring about his desired outcome. These names represent real people. They are not mythological. Nor, or they simply legends. These people lived and breathed and walked the face of this earth just like you and me. They got up each morning and dealt with many of the same problems you do.

I have loved our WEBS through Genesis. It took a couple of years, but each step along the way we were involved in the lives of real people:

  • Abraham (who BTW, wasn’t the 1st born in his family), Abraham was told in Gen. 12, 15 where the Scriptures record that Abraham believed God and God credited his belief as righteousness. Nowhere is it more apparent than in Gen 22 – the famous chapter where Abraham offers his son on an altar of wood – raising the knife up in the air, God intercedes and provides a lamb.
  • Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac (who wasn’t the 1st born either),
  • Jacob & Esau, Jacob, who wasn’t the 1st born fathered Judah and his brothers, as for Judah, we see him here in v 2b-3; He had wicked children, the oldest of whom the Lord killed: Er. All of this takes place while in the meantime, Joseph is sold into slavery by his own brothers, Joseph and Potiphar, Joseph and Potiphar’s wife; Joseph & Pharaoh; Joseph responded to life in an arrogant way – at least in the first 17 years of his life. God dealt with him as he needed and humbled him there after.

Naomi and Ruth were real women with real problems. Especially for this time in history! Ruth, a Moabite woman was brought to the Holy Land through severe famine and loss of life. It would have been hard being a Gentile – Yet, she would overcome great obstacles to become the Great Grandmother to David, the shepherd boy who would face Goliath of Gath to become a hero of the nation. He also would one day become King of Israel. But that was a long and painful path. His Father-in-law hated him and on occasion tried to kill him!

App.: God uses real people in real situations of life to accomplish his purposes. We’ve seen that throughout history.

Transition: 2ndly,

  1. God uses sinful people to accomplish His Plan. (6b-11)

Yes, he used Joseph and Moses and Abraham. But even these men were sinners. Just look at some of the other examples God uses; We mentioned Judah earlier who fathered wicked sons – so wicked that God took their lives: Gen 38.7: But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. V 10 says the same of the next son – wicked – so God put him to death, too. Er’s wife was Tamar, but none of the sons would be responsible for her. God had a plan for just such situations: Kinsman Redeemer. We see this multiple times in Ruth. For Tamar, there was a stigma attached to a woman without children, so she took matters into her own hands. She disguised herself as a prostitute and sold herself to her father-in-law, who got her pregnant! Which, was her plan!

Look at our text, picking up in 6b; rd 6b; now how rude is that! I’m guessing most of you know the story of David and Bathsheba. Lust, Adultery, murder, cover-up – sounds like a tv show! It’s not just interesting to me that God uses a sinner like David. But, listen carefully, he uses this couple and through them the Messiah would come. In the stories of David, my favorite wife is Abigail. She’s just an awesome woman. She’s wise, she’s strong, she’s a leader, she takes action. Why not her? Why didn’t God use her to pass on the royal lineage? He doesn’t. Instead, he takes Bathsheba and gives her a son who will become king. And, he takes another son of hers and passes on the priestly line of the Messiah. Nathan is his name, and you can find his lineage in the priestly line, the lineage of Mary, in Luke 3.

Solomon would turn from the Lord in his later years, wrecking not only his faith, but the kingdom. This man would be considered the wisest man ever and yet, look at his son; Rd v 7a; Rehoboam – who split the kingdom because of his foolishness! He might be as much to blame for all of the idol worship that occurs in the Northern Kingdom as Jeroboam is! Read the names in 8ff;

  • Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and
  • Abijah the father of Asaph, and
  • Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and
  • Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and
  • Joram the father of Uzziah, and
  • Uzziah the father of Jotham, and
  • Jotham the father of Ahaz, and
  • Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and
  • Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and of Manasseh it was said there was no king more wicked than him. He sacrificed his own child to a false god as a burnt offering. He set up idols in the Temple of God. There was a time of repentance, but his evil was so gross and so offensive to God, that it was determined here that God would send his people into exile. Rd on
  • Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, Josiah was a great king, but God said, uh-uh – the punishment that’s coming is coming and your good behavior won’t stop it now! Rd v 11
  • 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

App.: I’m amazed that God chooses to use sinful people for his purposes. Here, we see that God has a plan, he’s working his plan and he’s using sinful people in the process. I’m think that you might just be thinking: wow! That means there is hope for me. You bet there is. I’m guessing that where you are today is nowhere near the depths of sin outlined by some of these people. I’m guessing your sin, in comparison hasn’t led to the downfall of many. But even if it has, there is hope for you. God can use you – and will use you if you will surrender your life to him.

Transition: God uses real people to accomplish his plan. God uses sinful people to accomplish his plan. And three…

  1. His Plan is all about keeping his promises. (12-16)

Exp.: Sometimes, it’s hard to see his promises – But God is faithful to fulfill all that he has said. Rd v 12-13; Just reading this at 1st – a cursory glance doesn’t really catch your attention. But, if you know the history of these Kings, something doesn’t add up. 1st of all, so offended was God at Jeconiah that he promised to cut off his lineage. Look at Jeremiah 22.24-30:

24 “As I live, declares the Lord, though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, yet I would tear you off 25 and give you into the hand of those who seek your life, into the hand of those of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born, and there you shall die. 27 But to the land to which they will long to return, there they shall not return.”

28         Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot,

a vessel no one cares for?

Why are he and his children hurled and cast

into a land that they do not know?

29         O land, land, land,

hear the word of the Lord!

30         Thus says the Lord:

“Write this man down as childless,

a man who shall not succeed in his days,

for none of his offspring shall succeed

in sitting on the throne of David

and ruling again in Judah.”

 

Write this man down as childless… remember that, because we have his genealogy listed in 1 Chronicles 3.16-20. Go ahead and go there:

16 The descendants of Jehoiakim: Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son; 17 and the sons of Jeconiah, the captive: Shealtiel his son, 18 Malchiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah; 19 and the sons of Pedaiah: Zerubbabel and Shimei; and the sons of Zerubbabel: Meshullam and Hananiah, and Shelomith was their sister; 20 and Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed, five.

Now, this Genealogy is so important for the royal lineage. The lineage listed here in Matthew 1.12-13 is Jeconiah, Shealtiel, Zerubabbel. But according to the official records, Shealtiel had no sons. Meaning that the Prophecy came true: Jeconiah’s son, Pedaiah was childless and the royal lineage stopped right there. But, Pedaiah’s son is listed as Zerubbabel – Zerubbabel was Shealtiel’s son – meaning that Shealtiel became Pedaiah’s Kinsman Redeemer and fathered a child for him. The Jews understood this rule for lineage. They would have no problem with it. Thus, the royal line would continue in spite of Pedaiah’s inability to produce an heir. My guess is that Pedaiah died and Shealtiel’s responsibility was to be the Kinsman Redeemer.

These are his descendants, but didn’t Jeremiah prophesy that Jeconiah his lineage would end? It does.

A no brainer for the most part: v 2-6a are found in 1 Chr 2:1-15; v 6b-11 are found in 1 Chr 3:10-14; v 12-16 are 1 Chr 3:15-19; Every name is covered up to v 13; from Abiud through to Christ is unconfirmed, but really no problem. It was very common for families to keep their genealogy!

ill.:

Abraham to David the Lineage is the same.

David David (3:5)

Solomon                                                                                                Nathan

Jechoniah                             3:16; Jer 22:23-30                                      Neri

Pedaiah                                                                                               Shealtiel

Zerubabbel

Abiud                                                                                                         Rhesa

Joseph                                                                                                         Mary

Jesus

Caveat: This scares me; at times I feel like this is way beyond my mind. I’m grateful for the men who’ve figured all of this out so that I can read, study and apply it. I feel like Job who said after he was confronted by God:

        “I know that you can do all things,

and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

        ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,

things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

Application: Here is why this is so important: God keeps his promises. He fulfilled his word against Jeconiah and he kept his word for David. The Jews would then have no problem accepting Christ as Messiah even though Joseph didn’t offer his seed for Mary to conceive the Baby Jesus. God, himself, would serve as the Kinsman Redeemer, and Jesus would have both the Priestly Lineage and the Royal Lineage in himself. Christ as both priest and king – Messiah.

Transition: Throughout history God has been moving and working to achieve his plan.

Observations & Implications:

  1. The continuance of family lines listed for priestly heritage and royal lineage are due to God’s intervention. My guess is that applies to your family line, too. Chances are you’ve got some ugly stuff in your family tree? Thank God for where you are today – that you’re not where you were. And Thank God that you’re not where you’re going to be!
  2. The members of these families who enjoy firstborn status, weren’t always firstborn! And you, if you are Christ’s, you enjoy the status of the firstborn child. You’ve been given position in the family of God.
  3. These families anticipated a royal lineage, through this family would come a unique King who would restore the broken relationship of Genesis 3. We now enjoy this restored relationship as Christians.
  4. God worked miracles for these families. He gave children to barren women. He gave descendants through women whose husbands died by giving them a kinsman redeemer.
  5. God provided in all this the accomplishment of his plan. He acted in a way that we could understand, so that we might come to know Him.

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A Christmas Carol

Title: The Character of Christ

Text: Matthew 8.1-17

CIT: Jesus is sovereign over all – all places, all people, all problems

CIS: Jesus is sovereign over all – all places, all people, all problems

Introduction: Show the video from 1.25.00-1.27.54 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a tale about a man named Ebenezer Scrooge. So famous is this character, that you’ll often find his name attributed to someone who doesn’t like Christmas. And so the story begins by letting us in on his ways. Jacob Marley, a former partner who has passed away some 7 years ago, visits Scrooge (obviously as a ghost/spirit) and warns him of the error of his ways, pleading with him to change his life before it’s too late. Scrooge is then visited by three more ghosts: Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come. What Scrooge sees about his life moves him to change and the story ends with Scrooge opening up his heart and his pocketbook. Here is the lesson: You can find meaning for your life

Today I’d like to look at three different stories in the Bible. Our text is found in Matthew 8.1-17. These three stories reveal to us the character of Christ. To be sure, this list is not exhaustive, that is to say, it doesn’t list for us every character trait of Christ. This list is not meant to be.

Context: Jesus has just completed the Sermon on the Mount; rd 7.28-29;

Context: bookends (similar phrases/words)

Matt 4.23-24

5.1-7.29 – Principles

8.1-9.34 – Practice

Matt 9.35-38

Specifically in Ch. 8: 8.1 great crowds followed him & 8.16 – crowds bringing their sick to him.

Structure: this message could be presented in various ways.

  1. Location: When came down; When he entered (temporal participles) verses 1, 5, 14; the 3rd location is still Capernaum (Mt 4.13, 18) but more specific (i.e. Peter’s home)
  2. People: All are sick, most are outcasts (i.e.: of different social standings); looked down on by the Jews
    1. Leper: unclean (v 2 make me clean)
    2. Centurion: Gentile; (v 8 I am not worthy to have you come under my roof) Question: was his slave Jewish?
    3. Woman: Peter’s mother-in-law
    4. Demon oppressed: healed all who were sick
    5. Faith:
      1. The faith of the leper (v 2); the faith of the centurion soldier (v 10, 13); the faith of the oppressed.
      2. Point of Contention: there is no mention of faith by the slave (even though the centurion had it), or even Peter’s mother-in-law (it could be implied that Peter did).
      3. I think the focus of Scripture isn’t so much about us (i.e.: the faith we have), but rather upon Christ.
  3. Character: The Character of Jesus is revealed in each individual circumstance. These stories tell us more about Him (different facets of his character)
        1. I’ve divided my message into three parts, the three parts you find in v 1-17
          1. The Compassion of Christ
          2. The Authority of Christ
          3. The Power of Christ

Transition: Let’s begin looking at Christ’s Character as found in v 1 – The Compassion of Christ

1.     The Compassion of Christ (8.1-4)

exp.: rd 1-3; The Lord Jesus demonstrates his power through his compassion. This man has leprosy, sometimes this word is used to describe various skin diseases; some observations;

  1. Society saw this affliction as The Judgment of God; who sinned?
  2. Therefore, the afflicted were ostracized by the people.
  3. This was seen as permanent. No healing was available. Only God could heal a leper.
  4. Considered Unclean – outcast from the people. “outside the camp” Rd v 4; proof – now he would be allowed ‘back into the camp’.

This guy has been rejected by his society. So what does Jesus do? rd v 3; he touches him; I wonder how long it had been since someone touched this guy? I wonder if this is just what he needed? That’s a demonstration of his compassion! Jesus knew what He needed. He could have just said, as he does to the next person: Go; let it be done for you as you have believed. But, He didn’t. Jesus knew what the leper needed even more than the leper did! Then, he cleanses him, according to the law, and sets him free from his isolation.

Question: why keep quiet about this? Theories:

  • More and more people would hinder his ministry.
  • They would recognize him as the messiah and force him to become king. We know the result of that (cf. Judas).
  • With our penchant for the miraculous, supernatural as humans, they might begin worshipping the miracles, the creation rather than the creator.
  • Jesus knows this man and what he needs to do; Mk 5.18-20

app.: God knows our needs even better than we do!

t.s.: And often times, we see this displayed in his compassion toward us. 2nd we see…

2.     The Authority of Christ (8.5-13)

exp.: Really, this whole section, ch. 8-9 is all about his authority. We do see that specifically here, though, with the soldier in this passage, rd v 5-8; wow! Just say the word;

  1. The Centurion’s Appeal (5-6)– servant is sick; Humble; Honest; What he seeks is healing.
  2. The Centurion’s Acknowledgement of Christ’s Authority (7-9) – This is truly amazing! Maybe not for you and me in this day. But at that particular time, to recognize the authority of Christ over the situation – wow.
  3. The Lord’s Astonishment – I haven’t seen this kind of faith in all of Israel (people – not geography). Rd v 11-12;

Question: How does this fit? This isn’t about healing! Gathering from the east & west – not for Jews, but of these Gentiles. Many of the Jews will be cast out, but the Gentiles will dine with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. The central truth is what we believe about Jesus. Wow! The ones who are supposed to get in to dine (according to human thinking) are left out. The ones who are to be left out (according to human thinking) are invited in! It’s not your health, your wealth, your nationality, or whom you know. So, this isn’t about healing! It’s about Christ.

    4.  The Lord’s Answer – “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed.

Transition: Christ’s Compassion, His Authority, and finally, His Power

3.     The Power of Christ (8.14-17)

exp.: rd v 14-16; a couple of quick observations:

  • The Results are By his Word – v 16; rd v 3; I will, be clean; v 13; go, let it be done; he need not even be present; he just speaks the word;
  • The results are Immediate: rd v 13c; And the servant was healed at that very moment; rd v 3c – And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. She rose; She served; I don’t know about you, but for me, when I’ve been sick, it takes a couple of days to get my strength back.
  • The results are a fulfillment of Prophecy. Rd v 17; Isaiah 53.4; Craig Bloomberg says that Matthew closely follows the MT in which Isaiah probably intends to use a double entendre – two meanings: there is the physical sickness, but there is also the spiritual sickness of sin.

app.: He bore our sins for us on the Cross of Calvary. Peter gets this clearly when he says in 1 Peter 2.24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Conclusion: I’m sure you’ve heard of the illustration where the Sunday School answer is always Jesus. Well, really, the answer is always Jesus. Especially, when you consider what the text is probably pointing toward. Yes, Scripture is filled with many life lessons and illustrations. I think it’s true that we need encouragement in our faith. But honestly, faith is only as strong as the object of your faith. Consider the fans in the stands who cry the chant: We Believe! And then their team loses! What good was their faith? Anaware Thabitye: Our faith is only as good as the object of our faith. Ladies and Gentlemen, we can put our faith in Jesus because His word is good.

Transition: So, what are we to make of all this?

Observations & Implications:

  1. You can find meaning for your life when you put your faith in Christ.
  2. The emphasis of this passage is placed on the sovereignty of the Messiah over all
    1. all people – the down and out and the up and in.
    2. all places – near and far,
    3. all problems – no matter the problem too great or too small
    4. Jesus cares about our sickness and our sorrows, but he is most concerned about our souls. Remember v 11? 1 Peter 2.24

Invitation: Come to Christ

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A Christmas Story

Title: A Christmas Story

Text: Matt 2.1-11

CIT: Wise men sought Jesus out; however, many were so caught up in events, that they missed that 1st Christmas.

CIS: You can miss Christmas

Introduction: Source: Wikipedia

In each of the film’s three acts, Ralphie makes his case to another adult and each time receives the same reply. When Ralphie asks his mother for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, she refuses. Next, when Ralphie writes an essay about wanting the BB gun for Miss Shields, his teacher at Warren G. Harding Elementary School, Ralphie gets a C+ and Miss Shields warns him of shooting his eye out. Later, Ralphie asks a local department store’s Santa Clause or a Red Ryder BB gun, and Santa tells him the same thing before pushing Ralphie down a long exit slide with his boot.

One day after he gets the C+ on his composition, Ralphie is hit in the face with a snowball thrown by the local bully, Scut Farkus and his sidekick, Grover Dill. Ralphie begins to cry and Farkus teases and taunts him until he snaps. Ralphie charges Farkus and begins to pummel him. During the fight, Ralphie shouts profanity non-stop as he lands blow after blow to the squealing Farkus. When Dill attempts to intervene, Ralphie pushes him away and continues beating Farkus at will. Ralphie’s brother, Randy, gets their mother who pulls her son off the bully and takes him home. This incident occurs shortly after Ralphie was punished for cursing while helping his father change a flat tire. Ralphie is worried about the cursing and is sure he will be punished again when his father gets home from work. Instead, Ralphie’s mother tells his father about the fight casually at the dinner table. She then changes the subject of the conversation to an upcoming Chicago Bears game, distracting his father and getting Ralphie off the hook in the process.

On Christmas morning, Ralphie looks frantically for a box that would hold the BB gun to no avail. He and Randy received several presents, but he is disappointed because he did not get the gun. As he accepts this fact and sits with his parents, his father points out one last half-hidden present, ostensibly from Santa. As the joyful Ralphie unwraps the BB gun, Mr. Parker explains the purchase to his surprised wife, stating that he had one himself when he was 8 years old.

Ralphie goes out to test his new gun, shooting at a paper target perched on top of a metal sign, and predictably gets a ricochet from the metal sign. This ricochet ends up hitting his cheek and glasses, sending them flying and knocking out a lens. While searching for the glasses, Ralphie inadvertently steps on and crushes the other side. He concocts a story about an icicle falling on him and breaking his glasses, which his mother believes, thanks in part to Ralphie’s realistic sobbing. She takes him upstairs to dry his face and forgets to close the door. This allows the pack of dogs from the Bumpus family (the hillbilly neighbors), who frequently torment Ralphie’s father, to enter the house and devour the Christmas turkey that is cooling on the kitchen table. Making a last-minute decision, Mr. Parker takes the family out to a Chinese restaurant where they have a hilarious time dining on duck, which adult Ralphie calls “Chinese turkey”.

The film ends with Ralphie lying in bed on Christmas night with his gun by his side. Randy is holding the toy zeppelin he received. The voiceover states that this was the best present he had ever received or would ever receive.

Application: I think this movie resonates with many of us Baby Boomers because it is not too unlike the childhood Christmas stories we lived. However, in all of the short stories that make up this movie and all of the sub-plots that fill the story line, never once is Jesus mentioned; never once is Christmas recognized as a time to celebrate the coming of our Lord and Savior. The movie is funny and nostalgic. It conjures images of an era when it was fun to be a kid. I suspect that there are many here who will not want to watch this with their children and will be offended at the movie. Others won’t see anything wrong with it. I’ll leave that judgment to you, as parents. However, if you watch this movie with your kids, you might want to preview it first.

Transition: This movie is a great reminder for me to make sure that I don’t miss Christmas by placing all of my attention and focus upon the secular and traditional. These in themselves are not bad; however, they can be when they replace the real reason for the season! They can be, if you get to the end of the Christmas season and say: This was the best Christmas ever and yet you never acknowledge Jesus.

So, how can you miss Christmas this year? Our text this morning is from Matthew 2.1-11, where we find some folks who missed that 1st Christmas. I’ve identified them and have listed them as being: The Intolerant, The Indifferent, The Ignorant

Intolerant – like Herod (The Potentate; The Ruler of the People)

Indifferent – like the Religious Leaders (The Priests; The Religious Leaders)

Ignorant  – like the people of Jerusalem (The People; The Region of Jerusalem)

So, who are the ones who miss Christmas in this story?

  1. The Intolerant

exp.: The intolerant are the ones who choose to make Christmas all about them. That is how Herod was! And, that’s how Ralphie was, too. Look at Herod’s response to the situation; Rd 2.1-4; the verbs

  1. He was troubled; stirred up
  2. He Inquired by assembling his team of scholars
  3. He summoned and ascertained the time

exp.: he sure is doing a lot here! Why? He’s intolerant. He’s king of this domain and he doesn’t want to give it up! He doesn’t want any interference with his position in life.

app.: It seems to me that there are those who are king of their own lives – ruling over all they survey! They don’t want to give up that spot.  They sit on the throne of their lives and refuse to get up and give that spot to Jesus. Along comes Christmas and messes up their plans by removing the focus from them to Jesus

Transition: But look, there are more here who miss that 1st Christmas. 1st it was the intolerant now it is …

2.     The Indifferent

exp.: look at the chief priests and the scribes of the people: we read Herod inquired of them where the Christ was to be born; that’s huge! It seems that something should have triggered their thoughts, but no, they were indifferent to this inquiry! They give him the answer and they quote the scripture! Rd v 5-6;

  1. They know where he is going to be born: Bethlehem of Judea, some 6 miles away. He’ll be born in Gresham.
  2. They know the Scripture that tells them this. Micah 5.2 – Book, Chapter, Verse. How do I know this? They quote it!
  3. Notice then they say to the King, “Why do you ask?” No! they didn’t, did they? Why not? Because they were indifferent! They’re happy with the way things are. They’re happy with their ritual and tradition. They don’t want someone or something to come in and mess that up.

app.: Here’s what really gets me: Israel had been looking for the messiah since Deu. 18:15; How long ago was that? Some 1800-2000 years; Here the religious leaders knew the answer, but couldn’t care any less.

ill.:  J. MacArthur: These men were too busy with themselves to be concerned about Jesus. Engrossed in their own pride, their self-righteousness, their self-sufficiency, they carried on their ritual and their petty theological discussion in the confines of their own comfortable system. They had no time for the Son of God.

Transition: This should get our attention. It’s been a long time – nearly 2,000 years; we’ve become comfortable with our ritual and tradition for years now. We must be careful to not grow indifferent to Christ at Christmas. There is a 3rd group mentioned here: The Intolerant, The Indifferent, and now…

3.     The Ignorant

exp.: Ignorant simply means: without knowledge. There are people in the region of Jerusalem who are also caught up in a stir with the king. They’ll do whatever he does. Their main concern is with the one who governs them. They follow along ignorantly. As long as the king is happy, their ok; whatever he says goes; rd v 3; ταράσσω; To stir-up; John 5.6-7; When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

app.: that’s the picture of what’s happened to king and to the people; they’re stirred up because he is; but, they really don’t know why? My guess is that they’re not even aware of all that’s going on. If they did, if they truly understood, I think they’d follow this caravan south, to Bethlehem. Instead, they’re happy to get along with their daily lives as the caravan makes it’s way out of Jerusalem.

ill.: A recent interview of people on T.V.: The views ranged from sentimental to irreverent. Some were sentimental saying Christmas is a time for family and friends. Others said it is a time for Children. Some people were humanistic saying it is a time for brotherly love, to put aside our differences and come together. Others were just down right rude, saying that it was just another excuse to party. Not one person said it was a time to recognize the birth of Christ.

To further illustrate this point: Is Jesus featured on television at Christmastime? According to a National Religious Broadcasters analysis of 48,000 hours of programming during December 2002, 90 percent of programming did not have a significant spiritual theme.

Some 7 percent had a religious or spiritual theme but did not refer to Jesus.

Jesus was the focus of only 3 percent of Christmas programming.

Transition: So, with so many ways to miss Christmas, how can you be sure you won’t miss Christmas? Enter the Wise men who incessantly search for the Christ Child.

4.     The Insistent  (3-5)

exp.: Those who incessantly insist that Christ be the focus – like the wise men; I think we are already doing that around here; in commercials; in Christmas displays; In the songs playing in stores; more and more, people are saying let’s not let commercialism detract from the real reason for the season.

app.: you won’t find Christmas on TV or in the papers; you’ll find him…we’ll may I quote: Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Transition: Van Morris from Mt. Washington, KY tells the story of a woman was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before.

Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load.

As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!”

A few others nodded theirs heads or grunted in agreement.

Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator, came a single voice that said: “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”

I get the idea that this woman was missing Christmas. The truth is that Jesus is responsible for this season, but he’s not responsible for what we’ve turned it into!

This season, as you make your plans, do your shopping, attend your parties and celebrations. Don’t forget the baby and real reason for why it all takes place.

Observations & Implications:

  1. Christmas isn’t about you, Herod.
  2. Don’t confuse religion and tradition. You might miss the real party!
  3. Don’t blindly follow the god of commerce and secularism. You’ll walk right by God in the Manger.
  4. Assiduously seek the Christ Child, the real reason for the season – Jesus.

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