Sunday, December 8, 2013

Solus Christus: The Second Sunday of Advent

Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Throughout this past week we’ve been looking at the story of redemption and the offices and attributes of our Redeemer. We started in the beginning with creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, and the first promise of redemption in Ge. 3:15. Then we looked at how God prophesied that His Messiah would be a prophet, a priest, and a righteous judge. In today’s devotion, we’ll see that He is also our King—the King God promised to David that would rule on an everlasting throne:
7 “Now, therefore, thus shall you say to my servant David, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be prince over my people Israel... 11 When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14 but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.’” (1 Chr. 17:7, 11-14)
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Lk. 1:26-33)
God promised David that one of his offspring would be the King whose throne would be “established forever.” Then, a thousand years later, the angel Gabriel told Mary that her son—the “Son of the Most High”—is that eternal King God had promised to David. This King, however, is unlike any other king this world has ever known. In fact, He’s so different that the Magi (the Wise Men) almost missed Him. When they followed the Bethlehem star in order to find the king of the Jews and worship Him, they went looking in Herod’s castle expecting to find a king like all other earthly kings. Jesus’ kingship, however, goes far beyond any earthly idea of king in two very important ways. Let’s read what Paul says about His kingship in Col. 1:9-17:
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 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. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
This is obviously a theologically dense passage whose depth we cannot exhaust at this time (here is my sermon on it if you want a more detailed explanation), but in it Paul shows us that Jesus the universal King (vv. 15-17) and our personal King (vv. 9-14). In those two ways His kinship goes far beyond any earthly idea of king. His universal kingship is absolute; you can’t not be under it. He’s the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, so everything in it is in Him, through Him, and for Him, and He controls it all with absolute authority. His personal kingship, however, is over those whom God has “qualified” (the good news of the gospel!) through the work of redemption that He accomplished in Jesus. Did you hear that? God qualifies us—those who have faith in Jesus—through Jesus’ work. We don’t qualify ourselves. We can’t work to qualify ourselves. We don’t come under Jesus’ personal kingship by anything other than God’s unmerited gift of grace.

On this day of Advent, remember that the universal King became poor and was born in a stable, so that He could accomplish redemption and forgiveness of sins and bring those who repent and believe under His personal kingship. Remember that the King of the universe—the Son of God in whom “all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” —became a lowly, frail, fragile human like you and me. Remember that He lived in this world with all its pains and miseries, and He went to the cross to die for the sins of His people. What other king would ever do anything like that? Could ever imagine an earthly king doing anything like that for his people? No, and that’s because Jesus is a very different kind of king. You won’t find this kind of king in a castle ruling an earthly empire. He’s ruling and upholding the universe itself, and He lives the hearts of His people through the Holy Spirit.

By His Grace,

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