Glory is not what you think of when you think of the birth of Jesus but it should be! Luke 2:1-5 is our text “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Jesus was born under Roman rule. God’s people are an oppresses people. Jesus, the newborn king, as the old Christmas songs says, Hark the Herald Angel Sings, glory to the newborn king But how many think about the fact that Jesus was not born into an affluent world. Rather he was born into a very hard time. A time and place where the affects of sin in the world were being fully felt. Oppression is not no new or modern invention that came along in England or America a couple hundred years ago. No, the world Jesus was born into knew full well how far men and women had wandered from loving their neighbor. The world Jesus was born into was that of oppression. Oppressed people do not have glory or honor or power. Roman rule is a dictatorship. The have all the power. All the glory. According to Roman imperial propaganda, Caesar Augustus was the savior who proclaimed good news of peace. This is no different than so many dictators throughout the world and history. The same was said of Adolf Hitler. Oh, how different is the true savior of the world So we see that Caesar has all the power here. Dictating to the people that he rules over that they have to be counted. A census. Maybe so he can better dictate over them. Better tax them. All the people have to go back to where they were born to be counted. And where was Jospeh born? Bethlehem. He belonged to the house and line of David. vs. 4, “ And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David” The same King David that God made a promise to that his throne will never be lacking a King. The same king David who line of ancestors the people of God were expecting a messiah to come from. So friends, always keep in mind, and never forget, even the worst of rulers this world can throw at us are not outside the scope of God’s economy. There is an invisible hand over and above all human rulers. There is one true Lord. There is one true king. And that is Jesus Christ. He rules over all of history. Caesar is not meaning well for God’s people here. But friends, God has bigger plans. Listen to the prophecy in the Old Testament directly connecting Bethlehem and the future Davidic King: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” How do we know this is a prophecy of the future messiah being born in Bethlehem? Because the New Testament writers interpret it for us. They tell us this is exactly what this Old Testament text, Michael 5:2 means. That the King will be born in Bethlehem. Friends. The New Testament is the best commentary on the Old Testament. We need the Old Testament. Because without it would be like reading the last half of a mystery novel and never knowing what the mystery is. The Old Testament gives the New Testament a much fuller meaning. But friends. Pay attention to the meaning. Pay attention to how the mystery is solved. Pay attention to how the New Testament interprets the old. So let’s see how the old testament prophecy found in Micah 5:2 is referring to where the messiah, the future Davidic king would be born. Turn with me to Matthew 2, start reading in verse 1 - 2 “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, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” So basically after Jesus was born, some wise men, Magi, came looking for this King. vs. 3 - “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” Why was he disturbed? Probably because he was afraid of losing his kingship. King Herod wanted to be king and it probably scared him that there is talk of a newborn king. But the point I am trying to make here is coming up. vs. 4 - “and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” He called together all the teachers of the law. All the chief priest. All the top scholars of the day, professionally trained in the teaching and applying of the Old Testament and he asked them were the Messiah was to be born. And what did they say? Vs. 5 - “They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet”
And watch what they quote as the basis for their answer. You guessed it. Michah 5:2 vs. 6 - ““‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
So back to my point I was trying to make. Though Caesar had big plans for ruling his man made kingdom. And part of that including doing his big census. God had much bigger plans all along. A savior was to be born in Bethlehem. A king who would save his people from their sins, as Matthew 1:21 says. And so Joseph travels to Bethlehem with Mary. And just a side note here. Did you ever think about how important is adoption is to God’s economy?
The savior is going to come from the line of David. The line of David is found in Joseph. Joseph is not Jesus’s father. Joseph is Jesus’s earthly father who raised him and fathered him, though he is not his biological father. And yet Jesus is considered to have come from the line of David. Friends, this gives a whole new significance when we think about adoption. This gives a whole new significance when we think about text like Ephesians 1:5, “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” But let’s move on. Back to Luke chapter 2 verse 4-7 “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn”
Oh my friends, Glory is not what you think of when you think of Jesus’s birth. Born into an oppressed people. And born in a place no child should be born. An animal feeding trough. I don’t know how many of you have spent time on a farm. But does the very place that you feed the animals remind you of a place that a child should be born? Much less a newborn king. The king of glory. Oh my friends, Glory is not what you think of when you think of Jesus’s birth. But it should be. The king of glory left heaven. He emptied himself of all the glory he truly and rightfully deserves. I mean he is the star speaker. He speaks and stars are put into place. He upholds planets. He not only created everything but also upholds everything. He gives everything that exist the ability to exist. Colossians 1:15-17, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” This Jesus who created everything. This Jesus who rules over everything. This Jesus who upholds everything. This Jesus who is all majestic. All beauty. All holy. All powerful. Left the place of being all that he is, didn’t quit being those things, but set those things aside and came to do the fathers will. He became weak so that we could become strong. He became a servant. Took on human likeness. Born as a baby in a manger. In an animal feeding trough. Into oppression. Why? So he could save us from oppression. Cesaer might have been a horrible dictator. And all human dictators from Hitler to Mao Tse Tung might be horrible but none compare to the dictatorship of sin, and the horrible oppressive enslavement it has enslaved mankind to. There was no other way for the curse to be broken. For the power of sin to be defeated, but for God to do something. Friends, it truly is the story line of the Bible. Salvation by grace. All the things that Jesus is not, weak, poor, oppressed, despised, forsaken. He is none of those things. He is the king of glory. He has no needs outside of himself. But he became everything he is not. So we could become all the very things we are not. Through faith in Jesus Christ. Through renouncing of our allegiance to everything else, and casting ourselves upon him and him alone, we become part of his kingdom. Christ is king no matter what. But there is a big difference between living in rebellion towards him and joyfully and willingly surrendering and giving your allegiance to him. Either way he is king. But only one way will we enjoy it. My friends, the first time Jesus came he came into this world as one of us. Like us. Born like us. He did it all to save us from our sins. That was our biggest problem. He lived like us. Became like us. He is the savior of the world. He became an atonement for sin. A perfect atonement. Because he never sinned. A perfect covering for sin. That’s what an atonement is. A covering. Jesus covered our sin. Perfectly. He made a perfect payment for the sin of all those who would repent and trust in him. But the second time he comes. When he returns. It will not be on a mission of mercy and grace. Oh, those who are in his kingdom will love his appearing. But those who are outside of his kingdom. Those who have rejected him or who have never heard of him will very much find it a fearful thing. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 says that “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. One day when Jesus returns as he truly and rightfully is, not with all his majesty cast aside but in all his kingly glory, anyone and everyone who has rejected his offer of mercy and grace. Everyone who is outside of his kingdom and has rebelled against his kingdom will be cast away from his kingdom forever. Oh my friends, we live on this side of Christ return. But let’s not be fooled by the unassuming, ingloriousness of Christ at Christmas. Oh the songs we sing might sound cute. They might sound neat. But only because we have painted this picture of Christ at Christmas that is not real. Yet, if we really think about the songs we sing, they have deep meaning. The question is, do we really believe them? Do we really believe that a king was born in Bethlehem? Oh my friends, Glory is not what we think of when we think of Jesus’s birth. But it should be. I am going to close from a most famous Christmas passage found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 9 … you may turn with me there if you would like: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (vs. 6-7) The Lord will do this. He will rule with justice and righteousness. On the throne of David and over his kingdom. The one who was once born in the city of David. Will one day rule as the greater David. Let’s make sure we are on his side and in his kingdom when this fully and finally happens. For it for surely will happen. His kingdom has broken into the world. One day it will be settled. Just as anything else God has ever decreed will happen, like a newborn king being born in a little town of Bethlehem, so will the kingdom of God be firmly established, on earth as it is in heaven. The New Jerusalem will come down. A place where there will be no more pain. No more tears. No more thievery. No more lying. No more sin at all. A restored earth. A restored everything. This is how the story ends. Right where it began. God’s people, dwelling in God’s place, living under God’s rule. Read Revelation 21 once. Except in the restored, renewed, new creation, there will be no hope of it being broken. This is the ultimate meaning, point and purpose of the cross. It’s the focal point. It’s where all things are headed. Reconciliation of everything. This is history’s course. This is history's trajectory. "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (Colossians 1:19-20) There had to be peace made. Not mainly between man and man. Though that will one day happen when sin is gone. But more importantly there had to be peace made between God and man. That’s why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. He made a way for there to be peace between God and man. He satisfied God’s wrath against sin on our behalf. If only we would repent and believe. In other words that we would renounce allegiance to other kingdoms and give our allegiance to his. This is a good offer. This is good news. Do you find joy, when you sing joy to the world? I hope you do. Let’s sing it. Joy to the world. And as you are singing. Think about what we are proclaiming. It is no light thing. The birth of Jesus is a a grand and glorious thing filled with real, historical and eternal implications. Joy to the world, friends. Joy to the world.