Summary: Christ’s kingdom - very strange, very different from anything we know in this world.
Luke 1:33 AND HE WILL REIGN OVER THE HOUSE OF JACOB FOREVER
Nothing lasts forever. I remember when I bought my first computer eight years ago – at the time, it was state of the art, the most advanced machine money could buy. Two years ago, it wasn’t worth anything, and I gave it away to Good Will. Nothing lasts forever. The car you have will eventually be traded in or thrown away. The body you have is in the process of falling apart. One of my older supervisors described it to me this way. He said to me, “Don, life begins at 40, but so does bad eyesight and arthritis. Pretty soon you start telling the same jokes to the same people. You reach down to straighten out the wrinkles in your socks, and then you realize that you’re not even wearing socks. Don,” he said to me, “In your twenties, you don’t care what the world thinks of you. In your thirties, you worry what the world thinks of you. And then, in your forties, you realize, the world is not thinking about you at all.”
Today, we are reminded that we have been given something that will never get old, something that will never wear out. Today, this fourth Sunday of the Advent season, we have lit the “angel’s candle,” the candle which reminds us of the angels, who serve a King that lives and rules forever. This morning, we are going to focus on Christ, the King who was born on Christmas, whose reign lasts forever and ever.
That’s what the angel who appeared to the Virgin Mary spoke about. He told her that she was going to give birth to a son, and look at how this son is described: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” This isn’t the first time that Jesus is described this way. In our Old Testament lesson for this morning, God told King David about the Christ: “He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
The first thing you notice about this eternal kingdom is that it’s hidden. Sometimes, during Jesus’ life, you could see that he was a king. He would heal people, raise people from the dead. But our God is a God who hides his glory. He hid his glory in the Virgin Mary – no one would have ever guessed that she was carrying the King of Kings who would reign forever. On Christmas Eve, God hid his glory in a feeding trough. There Christ lay, the commander and chief of the army of angels. And years later, God hid his glory on a cross. No one would have ever guessed that the man hanging on the middle cross was the Son of the Most High, the One who would reign over the house of Jacob forever. God hides his glory there, as he bears the sins of the world and damns himself in order to save your soul.
God still hides his glory today. We want to see grandstand performances from God. We want him to wow us in a way that we can see. We want something to point to, something to look at, something that impresses us and excites us. But our God is a God who hides his glory today. And yet, he does tell us where we can find him. Unbelievers will try to find him in their own lives, but there is nothing there but sin. People will look for him in nature. People will try to find him by inventing religions that seem logical. But our God is a God who hides his glory.
He tells you that you can find him in only one place, and that is the humble place of the Gospel. Although it is spoken by sinners, although it is shared by sinners, although it is shared by stumbling preachers and teachers, the Gospel is where you can find the glory of God. Here in the story of Mary, or the story of David. Here you find God’s glory, the eternal kingdom of the Christ.
What is the mark of a successful presidency? Or a successful rule, if you’re a king? The mark of success for any ruler is peace. Political peace. Economical peace. International peace. President Bush is striving for peace. The rulers of the different countries in the world are trying to maintain or establish peace.
But no matter how good they are, the peace they set up never lasts. Suddenly there is war. Suddenly there is a recession. Suddenly things aren’t going well in the country that you are ruling. David and Solomon enjoyed a time of peace in Israel, but shortly after their reign, everything went down the drain.