Christmas service on December 24, 2017
Messenger: Pastor Jim Allison
Bible passage: Luke 2:11
Christ the King: David’s Son and David’s Lord
Merry Christmas, everyone! Because we hear the same story of Jesus’ birth every year in this season, it is easy for us to lose the sense of wonder that was there for the first people who heard it long ago. The images and words can become so familiar that we forget how amazing the events and message of Christmas are. To work against that tendency, today I’d like to look at Christmas in a little different way than we often do—through the lens of the life of David. Last month we began learning from stories about him. You remember that he was a “type” of Christ, someone who came before Jesus’ time as a sign of what the Messiah would be like. Through him, we can learn about Christ and God’s great work for the world’s people, much as you can recognize many things about an approaching, unseen person just by looking at his or her shadow.
David shows up in the Christmas story again and again. Have you noticed that? The very first verse of the New Testament says, “This is a record of the family line of Jesus Christ. He is the son of David” (Matthew 1:1). By “son of David” the writer means that Jesus is from the family line of David. Matthew traces this line through Jesse, who was David’s father (as Pastor Sasaki told us two weeks ago), then from David to his son Solomon and finally to Jesus. His list is like the express train that does not stop at every station. Matthew is skipping quite a few generations. (Maybe he is being kind and trying not to put us to sleep?) When he approaches the time of Jesus, he tells us that Jesus’ grandfather was Jacob (and His father Joseph, of course). Matthew seems to be telling the story of Jesus’ birth from the viewpoint of Joseph.
Luke 3 has a different list of Jesus’ ancestors. This list goes through Jesse and David, just like the other one, but then it follows not Solomon but another of David’s sons, Nathan. It continues with those who came after him all the way down to Jesus’ grandfather, not Jacob but Heli in this telling of the family’s story. The wording is not completely clear here, and various ideas have been given about the differences in the lists of people in Christ’s family history. But many scholars think they are just telling the stories of the two sides of Jesus’ family, that is, Joseph’s through his father Jacob and Mary’s through her father Heli.
The point the writers make again and again in different ways is that Jesus was born to be our King. David was known as Israel’s greatest king, and the promised Messiah would come as a King like him, and even through the same family line. The people of Israel expected the Messiah, or Christ, to be this kind of character, and the bold claim that the New Testament makes is this: Jesus is the Christ, the Chosen One, the Promised One, the great King whom God had promised to send to lead the world’s people in peace and justice and truth.
Last month we learned that David was a prophet, priest, and king. In these particular ways his life pointed forward to the even greater Prophet, Priest, and King who Jesus would be. As we saw, each of these roles of Jesus appears in the little Easter Week story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21). People call Him “the Son of David” there (v. 9). The crowds say, “This is Jesus. He is the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” He does what priests do in leading people to worship God as they say the words of the Bible and shout, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When people put palm branches and their clothes down on the path before Him as He rides into the capitol, He knows they are doing what people do to kings. And He does not stop them but receives their praise. That says a tremendous amount about who Jesus believed He was.
A month ago we started exploring what God’s word means when it calls Jesus a King, the King. We saw that it means He is our Shepherd. We relate to Him as a sheep relates to a shepherd. So it is very fitting that God would choose shepherds to be some of the first people in the whole world to hear the great announcement that Christ had been born. It would not seem fitting to many people because shepherds were looked down on and seen as dirty, smelly, unreliable people, “low-lifes.” If we had a great message we wanted the world’s people to receive and believe, and we were sitting in a committee meeting deciding how to spread the word effectively, shepherds might be the last people we’d think of asking to work as the messengers. But to God it made perfect sense. He chose them, as Luke 2:10b-11 tells us: “I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.” Yes, God chose David’s hometown of Bethlehem (the “City of David” or “Town of David” as Luke 2:4 calls it). David had worked there as a shepherd, too, I Samuel tells us. And God raised him up to be the shepherd of the whole nation of Israel, the king, as well as a “type” of the coming and greatest King, Jesus.
But that is not all that God means when He tells us that Christ was born to be the King. Through David’s life, it also shows us that Jesus was born to be our Savior and our Lord. In our remaining time, let’s see what it means that God sent His Son into our world, our lives, to be our Savior and Lord.
Savior. God’s people had been in deep trouble for many years. They were slaves in Egypt, then wandered in the desert for 40 years. When they finally reached the Promised Land God had given them, they were surrounded by enemies. God sent various strong leaders such as Samson or Deborah to help them, but it took many years before they had a safe place they could settle and live in peace. David, then his descendants, were the people God chose and used in special ways to save His people—giving them military, political, and economic freedom, as well as a rich spiritual life of faith.
But gradually they stopped following God and His teachings. For this, He had to punish them, the Bible says. The people of Israel lost their homeland and were made slaves again, this time in Babylon. Even when they were freed to return to their home, they found it destroyed. They lived in a weak nation controlled by one foreign power after another.
Still, God’s people lived with a promise. He had told David (II Samuel 7:12-13):
Some day your life will come to an end. You will join the members of your family who have already died. Then I will make one of your own sons the next king after you. And I will make his kingdom secure. He is the one who will build a house where I will put my Name. I will set up the throne of his kingdom. It will last forever.
Last forever? No king’s control over a nation lasts forever. God at first seems to be talking here about David’s son Solomon. But then He goes on (v. 16), “Your royal house and your kingdom will last forever in my sight. Your throne will last forever.” Many Christians understand God to be speaking here on more than one level. These words are about not only Solomon, but in some ways about the whole line of kings from David’s family, and especially about Jesus Christ.
This is what the angel is talking about when he tells Joseph hundreds of years later that he is to be the father of the Messiah (Matthew 1:20-21).
. . . An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That is because he will save his people from their sins.”
Joseph probably is really feeling the need for a Savior at this point. He knows his fiancé is pregnant and he is not the father. She could be executed for adultery in this culture, though he doesn’t want the news of the pregnancy to get out. Still, this is a small town, word gets around, and he is choosing to start a life-long relationship with her under very stressful circumstances.
But he knows the stories of David, his ancestor. The angel reminds Joseph that he is descended from a giant-killer, a man of great courage and strength. He is going to need these qualities for the difficult days ahead. Pretty soon King Herod’s soldiers will be in Bethlehem, killing baby boys, trying to kill Jesus. Joseph will have to take the family and live as refugees in Egypt for a long period of time. In this way, Jesus’ life will reflect the many times in David’s life when he was also trying to escape the king trying to kill him (King Saul in his case). But God will be there to provide all the “holy family” needs, just as He did for David. He will save His people as He always does when they trust Him with their needs.
Others throughout the New Testament mention David, and their words show that they expect the Son of David, or Messiah, to be a Savior. They don’t call Him “Son of Noah” or “Son of Samson” or some other character. “Son of David” has a particular meaning. Some blind men in Matthew 9 and Matthew 20 call Jesus “Son of David” and find His help regaining their sight. A demon-possessed daughter becomes free from this spirit when her mother calls Jesus “Son of David” and asks His help. A man in Matthew 12:22-23 can neither see nor speak until he meets Jesus and is made whole. The people who see this say about Jesus, “Could this be the Son of David?”
In what part of your life do you need to know the Christ of Christmas as your Savior? If you have never asked Him to come into your life, to forgive your sins, make your heart His home, and give you the guidance and power you need for each day, you can do that, even today. Please talk to Pastor Sasaki, or me, or another member of Open Door if you would like to know how God’s word says you can be saved.
Or maybe you need the touch of the Savior in your life to heal a broken relationship with someone. Maybe you need, or someone you love needs, the recovery of health, whether physical, mental, or emotional. You may need to be set free from things that have too much control over your life, whether it be alcohol, pornography, or something else you put in your body or mind. You might need to be saved from the feeling that you have to spend every free moment looking at some type of screen. You may need to be delivered from the feeling that you must constantly work hard so that you will become valuable enough. Into what parts of your life does Jesus want to be born as your Savior? Whatever they are, I encourage you to welcome Him as your Messiah, your Christ, your King.
For David, as for Jesus, being the King also means being Lord. (Neither King, Shepherd, Savior, nor Lord is basically different from the others. To put it simply, Christ came into this world to be number one in your life.)
This is what the angel is talking about when he announces to Mary that she will be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:30b-33).
God is very pleased with you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. He will rule forever over his people, who came from Jacob's family. His kingdom will never end.
David was Israel’s king. II Samuel 8:6b tells us that it was because God “helped David win his battles everywhere he went.” When Jesus was sent into our world, God chose Him to be our King in a far greater way. When He was an adult, Christ asked an unusual question to some religious leaders (Matthew 22:42ff). It tells us much about who Jesus came into this world to be. He said:
“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
He said to them, “Then why does David call him ‘Lord’? The Holy Spirit spoke through David himself. David said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your control.’ So if David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be David’s son?”
Did you catch that? It may get lost in all the times the word “Lord” is used, but Jesus is showing that David calls Him (Jesus) Lord. With God guiding him to write these words of the Bible, David looks ahead, past his own death. He sees in the Messiah to come someone greater than he ever has been as a sometimes weak, sinful human being. David is a king, but he knows that he needs a king, too. He is saying, in effect, “Jesus is my son, and Jesus is my Lord.”
If the greatest king of Israel called Jesus “Lord,” how can we not do the same?
If Jesus is Lord, that is good news for you and me. If He is Lord, then your problems and my problems are not Lord. If He is King, then the worries that you may be carrying now are not King. If He is Number One, then the datebook and watch and time clock are not Number One. If He is the center of your life, then what people think about you, how much money you have, how much you have achieved, how good-looking or intelligent or talented you are—all the other things people value so highly in our cultures—are not the center of your life. They are parts of your life, but they do not define you. That is something only God, as your Maker, Savior, and Lord has the right to do. When we truly see Jesus for who He is, for the person that God sent Him into this world to be, then we can begin to be free from the fears and loneliness and discouragement and frustrations that can pull us down so often. Into what parts of your life does Jesus want to be born as your Lord? Whatever they are, I encourage you to welcome Him as your King, your Lord.
When the wise men came to Jesus’s country to look for Him (Matthew 2), they asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? . . . Now we have come to worship him.” By being here today, we too have, in a way, come looking for Jesus. He was “born to be king . . . .” We can let our schedules become so crowded in the holiday rush that there is no space for Him, or we can try to change Him into something He really is not. Or we, too, can worship him as the wise men did. “Now we have come to worship him,” they said. Let’s do that, too, as we go to Him in prayer.
God, we praise you for the wonderful gift of your Son Jesus. Today, as we celebrate His birthday, may He be born afresh in our hearts, minds, and all parts of our lives. Help us to know Him as our King, our Savior and Lord, more and more each day. In this way, give us the true joy of Christmas, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Smith, C. “David’s Story.” (January 28, 2013). The Orchard Evangelical Free Church. Barrington,Illinois, U.S.A. retrieved December 16, 2017 from