Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jesus - Godly Priorities

This year we will study the life and person of Jesus Christ, his humanity and deity. We spent most of December looking at the birth of Christ. Last week Bro. Al talked about the inter-testament period when the Jews lived with no open vision or revelation from God. For 400 years the Jewish people had no new prophecy. Then the Angels begin to appear and foretell the birth of Christ, these new revelations signal a new period in God’s dealing with mankind.

John 1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
[The term “Word” is used like a proper noun, as someone’s name. The Greek word is logos is properly translated “Word” but it was a loaded term to the Greek philosophers. They had argued for years in metaphysical terms about truth, and in that debate “logos” was an ultimate truth, or word from God. So in this context Jesus is the personification of God’s ultimate truth, his revelation to mankind. So for 400 years Israel heard nothing from God, then the silence is broken as God reveals his ultimate truth to mankind. This is like going from a drought to a monsoon. God not only gives his word, thus saith the Lord, but the word becomes flesh and stays to live with mankind. So now man has the opportunity to see truth in action, by observing the life of Jesus.]
Luke 2
41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
[During part of the inter-testament period it was a crime to keep the feast and sacrifices of the Law, but once the temple was restored Jews who lived in the region would travel to Jerusalem for the most important observances of the Law. Mary and Joseph did this for Jesus circumcision and dedication, and they did it each year at Passover traveling from Nazareth. So when Jesus was 12 he was considered old enough to go to the temple. He would be expected to keep these observances when he was 13, but at 12 this may have part of his religious training to go and observe.]
43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother[l] did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
[Mary and Joseph would normally travel in caravans with friends, family and neighbors. So it was like breaking camp, when everyone would know it was time to go. Yet when they did see Jesus by the end of the day his parents began an urgent search, returning to Jerusalem to find him.]
46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
[Travelers would take the opportunity of having access to the Rabbis and Priest to enhance their understanding of scripture and the faith. So the teachers would linger in the temple courtyard and learners would ask questions and have discussions with the religious leaders. They found Jesus in the middle of these discussions.]
47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
[So here is a 12 year old boy full of insight and understanding regarding the scriptures and the faith. His knowledge reveals, that his deity granted him a level of understanding equaling and surpassing that of the rabbis.]
48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
[So apparently Jesus had not revealed his special understanding of scripture before, because his own parents were “amazed” that he was so engaged in these discussions. Now Mary and Joseph knew who Jesus was, they had heard the revelation of the angels, but it seems that up until now Jesus had appeared to them somewhat normal for a boy his age, so they treated him as they would any of his peers. Now Mary gives a mom reaction “What are you doing to me, I’ve been looking for you for 3 days”. But Jesus answered, “didn’t you know what I was doing”. Some translation say “father’s business” others say “father’s house”, but all the Greek text says is “father”, so another interpretation might be “Didn’t you know I must be with my father”. Have you ever desired to be with God that much?]
51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
[Now we have already studied how Jesus fulfilled the law. So Jesus actions were not disobedient or dishonoring to his parents. He was just revealing he knew who his father was, and making knowing God a priority in his life. Luke clears up any misconceptions here. He was not rebellious, he was submissive. He knew his purpose would be revealed in time, for now his job was to learn and grow to become the teacher who would minister to thousands once his time was come. Also notice how Mary would store these memories away knowing that God was with him in a very special way]
Ephesians 6
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
[One of the distinctive features of Judaism different from pagan religions is that all religions dealt with your relationship to god, but the Law of Moses had as much to say about our relationship to each other as to God. So how we effect each other’s lives is important to God. But knowing God richly and fully, is most important. Here we see Jesus putting his time with God first, but still being noted as a submissive and obedient son of man.

It is sometimes difficult to set priorities that put God first without neglecting our responsibilities to family, friends and neighbors. As we study the life of Christ pay attention to his actions, but understand that he took no wife and sired no children. So his adult life was devoted to God, but he still made himself a servant to man. Let’s focus on Godly priorities this year.]

Jesus the Messiah

Jesus - The Messiah

[Many years ago in the old Hallmark building someone got the idea to turn the platform and choir loft into a giant set of risers that looked like a Christmas tree. So a team of men set about making this giant platform with several rows in which the church choir could stand and sing. Each of these rows was faced in chicken wire and dark plastic, and covered with the branches of dozens of donated artificial Christmas trees. Then each row was strung with lights. The idea was for the choir members to be the ornaments so we each had on bright colored clothing you could see over the rail of your row where you could see the top part of the torso. Finally someone thought that we should all appear the same height in the tree. Now the tallest tenor was Oran Mann Sr. and he is about 6 foot 5 inches tall. And the shortest tenor was Ralph Moore at about 5 foot 6 inches. So Norman Sheffield made us each custom boxes that we could put in the tree platform to stand on thus all appearing the height, so the ornaments would be in a straight horizontal line when viewed from the pews. And for many years the choir and some drama teams would present Christmas musicals to convey the story of Christ birth. The musicals represented a huge effort, and some were quite good for a church our size.

In California the church started by Robert Schuller is called the Crystal Cathedral. Each year they present a musical called the Glory of Christmas, complete with angels flying from wires, and live animals in the stable, a full live orchestra and large choir. They charge to see it and it runs for several weeks around Christmas. Much more elaborate than our presentations but still for the same purpose. But regardless of the size, budget, or effort, church Christmas musicals are not the Glory of Christmas.]

Luke 2

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold,[b] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

[As the scripture tells us an angel announced the birth of Christ. In doing so the angel gave Christ the title of Lord. As we discussed before the Jewish rabbis when reading the scriptures would not utter God’s name, Yaweh or Yehova, they would just substitute Addoniah "Lord". After his announcement to the shepherds the single angel was joined by a heavenly choir, a host of angels singing "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill, toward men. That must have been a phenomenal event to witness, but angelic choirs are not the glory of Christmas.]

Matthew 2

1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

[12 days after Christmas tradition holds is when the magi, or wise men (practitioners of hidden wisdom), having seen something strange in the night sky had matched an astronomical event to ancient prophecies and followed this out-of-place star to find a king born near the time of the stars appearing. Finally finding Jesus, soon after his birth when they had probably returned home after his dedication, so if you have a nativity scene at home pull the wise men out of the stable as they were never there. Yet when they found the Christ child, they presented him with gifts worthy of a king. Quite amazing, but God moving a bright star around the cosmos to attract the attention of foreign astronomers, and having them present kingly gifts to a baby, is not the glory of Christmas]

[Jesus birth to the Virgin Mary was a miracle. In Like 2:47 Jesus amazed the scholars as a young boy. In John 2:8 Jesus performed his first public miracle turning water into wine. In John 6:11 Jesus blessed a young boys lunch and used it to feed 5,000. He continued for 3 years healing the blind, lame and sick, he even brought the dead back to life. Finally giving up his life on the cross, rising from the dead after 3 days, appearing to many, then ascending into heaven, with the promise to come again.]

Acts 2

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken[c] by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

[So the miracles that Jesus performed, and his resurrection were the proof that he is the Christ]

[If God gave you the ability to witness any biblical event which would it be:

The creation of the universe

the parting of the Red sea

The completion of Solomon's temple

Elijah's chariot of fire

The birth of Christ

One of Jesus miracles

The resurrection

or even John or Daniel's visions of the end times

There is a southern gospel song called "There Rose a Lamb". One of the verses goes like this:

I wasn't there when Jesus died

I wasn't there to see him rise

but I was there when he saved my soul

for within my heart this Lamb arose

You see the Glory of Christmas is not a choir musical even one with giant trees or live animals. It's not angelic appearances or songs sung from the heavens. The glory of Christmas is not great cosmic events followed by gift bearing magi. The Glory of Christmas is revealed in every humble sinner who bows before God and says in his heart "Jesus is the messiah, the Christ, God's sacrifice for the sins of mankind, my savior and Lord"]