Summary: Christmas series on why Jesus came to earth.
Luke 1:26-38 – Messiah Mission #2: Operation Sovereignty
Please turn with me to Luke 1:26-38. This being the 2nd Sunday of Advent, we are continuing our Christmas series I’ve called The Messiah Mission. What was Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth, as revealed in the Christmas story? Last week we saw Messiah Mission #1 was Operation: Salvation. That is, He came to rescue. This week, Messiah Mission #2 is Operation: Sovereignty. That is, He came to rule. Let’s read our passage for today, Luke 1:26-38.
This passage describes the visit that Mary received from the angel Gabriel. Mary was just a young, inexperienced girl. The angel came to her and revealed that she would be with child, and not just any child. This child would not be from the seed of a man, but would be from God Himself. This is how Gabriel described Jesus: “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 child would be King of a kingdom that will never end. Jesus came to earth to rule.
Living in a democracy like Canada, we really don’t understand what it means to have a King. Sure, we have a Queen, but at this point in Canada’s history and in the history of the British Empire, the Queen has little to do with our everyday lives. We pay lip service to our monarchy, and we acknowledge that they are in charge, but we really don’t pay much attention to their rule. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Realistically, a more-easily understood concept is more of a workplace. That’s how today we really understand the one in charge. Not through kings and subjects, but through boss and employees. Unfortunately, we also seem to understand the idea of bad bosses, more easily than good ones. I found this story about an overly-demanding boss.
For thirty years, Johnson had arrived at work at 9A.M. on the dot. He had never missed a day and was never late. Consequently, when on one particular day 9 A.M. passed without Johnson's arrival, it caused a sensation. All work ceased, and the boss himself, looking at his watch and muttering, came out into the corridor.
Finally, precisely at ten, Johnson showed up, clothes dusty and torn, his face scratched and bruised, his glasses bent. He limped painfully to the time clock, punched in, and said, aware that all eyes were upon him, "I tripped and rolled down two flights of stairs in the subway. Nearly killed myself."
And the boss said, "And to roll down two flights of stairs took you a whole hour?"
That’s a funny story, and I doubt that many of us in this room would think of God our Boss that way. But I think a lot of people might see God that way. As a domineering, unfeeling, uncaring Boss who just wants His way, regardless of what anybody else wants. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; God still expects more. No matter how good you are, He expects you to be better. No matter what you give, it’s never good enough. And so on. It comes from the idea that God loves us and accepts us by our performance: how well we do something, how good our lives are.
That is what I call the treadmill of good works. Not sure if I thought of it myself or heard it somewhere, but it’s good. Imagine a person walking on a treadmill. They’re walking, but not going anywhere. In fact, that person could start running, and still not get anywhere. That’s what our good works are like. Moving, building up a sweat, doing it because it’s the right thing to do, but not getting anywhere. Not moving forward, burning calories but going nowhere.
For people who consider God an uncompassionate Boss, that’s what life is like. All the good works in the world can’t get them any closer to Him, and will be ultimately unfulfilling. And generally, people who get stuck on the treadmill of good works eventually stop trying to please Him. They settle into a “God-loves-me-anyway” mentality, and stop really trying to make Him happy. They realize they can’t do it, or they will never know when it’s enough, and so they settle into a routine of making themselves happy and hoping that God is satisfied with that.
Let me tell you: that’s not what God had in mind. Yes, he wants to be our Boss. Yes, He wants to rule us. But not as an unfeeling, unsympathetic Leader. Rather, He wants to be our loving, all-gracious King. What does it mean for Jesus to be our King? What does it mean that Jesus is the Ruler?