This week's sermon was the finale of a trio of sermons titled "A Perfect Christmas." The series is based on the prophecies about Jesus which can be found in the book of Isaiah. If you would like to review, the first sermon was "Promises Made, Promises Kept," which focused on the prophecies concerning Jesus' birth. The second was "Hope Against Hope," which focused on the prophecies of what Jesus would represent when he came. This third sermon, which was based on Isaiah 11:1-10, focused on Jesus' coming kingship.
We had a discussion in Sunday School class this morning. I asked the kids what Christmas was. There was a lot of discussion about gifts and family, and being grateful for what you are given. As children, they take joy in all of these earthly treasures. Actually, many adults have the same focus about the holiday that the kids have. As Rev. Singleton pointed out this morning, people do not know where their joy comes from. But Christmas is more than gifts and family. Christmas is a promise made, a promise kept, and a promise for us that is still in the making.
Isaiah 11:1 speaks of a king who is to come. "A shoot from the stump of Jesse." Jesse was the father of King David. The genealogy of Jesus, found in Matthew 1, confirms that Jesus was, indeed, in the kingly line of David. But does this Jesus, as found in the New Testament, look like a king? He was born to poor parents, and lived a quiet life as a carpenter's son. When he was about 30, he started a sort of street ministry, and spent the last three years of his life wandering around and preaching. The end result was a humiliating death on a Roman cross. Certainly the people of his day didn't believe he was a king.
Ah, but this was not the end! Isaiah's prophecy doesn't point to a king like the world has ever seen. It points to a righteous judge. A wise king who has the Spirit of God resting on him. This king will be so good and just that the animals will be at peace with each other, and a child will be able to lead the lion and leopard around with the goat and the calf. Rev. Singleton said this passage was like "The Jungle Book meets Christmas!"
We haven't seen this yet. This is not the world we live in. But one day, it will be. You see, we were meant for Eden. Adam was not meant to die. The curse of sin that we are all under twists this world into something less than it can be. It twists all of us into something less than we can be. But as we read the prophesies of Isaiah, we have hope. Our joy is not in this twisted, less than world. It is in the perfection that is to come. Isaiah 53 predicts the earthly life and death of Jesus. Verse 5 gives the reason for it:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Revelation 1:4-6 tells us of the future kingdom of Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
You see, the story is not over. Jesus is, and was, and is coming again. We are looking forward to the time when the shoot of Jesse takes his proper place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When the nations will rally to him (Isaiah 11:10).
Our joy is found in this. In Jesus. The prophesies that have already been fulfilled give us confidence in the ones that have yet to be fulfilled. This Christmas, we can look forward with hope and joy to the future. We can see that Jesus came as a baby so many years ago to serve a purpose. We can see that he fulfilled his purpose on earth, and is even now working out the rest of the prophecy.
This Christmas, remember what we are celebrating. Our joy is not found in gifts or family, although we can enjoy those things. Our joy is found in our Savior, Jesus Christ, who left Heaven to give us a way back to Eden.