Summary: You cannot sensibly divorce "Christ the King" from Christmas - for why else would we remember the birth of a child born in an obscure part of the world 200 years ago unless he was different
With Christmas just around the corner and this being the last Family Service before the New Year, I wanted to ask the question
Why is Christmas so special?
What is there about Jesus Christ that marks him out as being different from all the other babies born in Israel 2000 years ago?
In human terms, he didn’t do any of the things associated with greatness.
When Mohammed – the founder of Islam died – he left a book – the Koran –with all his teaching in – and an army in place to propogate his teaching
When the Buddha died, his supporters, the nobility of Nepal propagated Buddhism and they set about continuing the work he had started.
Jesus on the other did none of the things associated with greatness. Indeed quite the opposite.
He wrote no book. He had no army
He enraged this nobility of Israel against him to such an extent that they stirred up the Romans to execute him.
And when he died, his followers were scattered.
And that should have been the end of it – but it wasn’t
So why was he so special?
Has it to do with who he really was – and is – The son of God?
Has it to do with His mission here on earth?
Yes there is, of course, some good ethical teaching in Jesus words – but His real mission was to reconcile us to God
St Paul put it very well when he said this – and this went on to become the earliest known Christian Creed.
Speaking about Jesus, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Note that St Paul expected Jesus’ Kingdom is going to come
What a paradox. The man who was crucified 2000 years ago is the same Jesus that one day God will exalt on high and at whose name every knee shall bow
Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor Napoleon I of France (1769-1821), was one of the greatest military commanders of all time.
He conquered the larger part of Europe and did much to modernize the nations he ruled.
When Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled on St. Helena, he was asked by one of his friends, ’Who was the greatest warrior the world has ever known?" Without hesitation, Napoleon answered, "Jesus Christ.’ "But" said his friend, "you have not always talked that way. When you were winning battles, even up to the very time of Waterloo, you left the impression that you were the world’s greatest warrior."
This is how Napoleon replied: "Yes, I have always acted as though I was the world’s greatest conqueror. I have had lots of time to think since I have been here on this island. The Caesars, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Charlemagne and myself have fought with blood and tears and swords of iron, and we lost. All of us lost. We lost our sceptres, our crowns and our offices.
The only sword Christ had was a broken reed: His crown, some twisted thorn: His army, a band of fishermen and farmers. His ammunition a heart of redeeming love. He lives, and I and my kind die. I stand here and call for the Old Guard to come, but they do not hear me. There are no responding voices. My old soldiers do not hear me. I hear nothing but the waves as they bite at the rock beneath my feet. But after 2000 years have gone into the tomb of time, Christ calls and men answer. If need be, they give their bodies to be burned: if need be, they follow Him into the heart to Africa; but better still, they live patient and triumphant lives in His name. Yes, the other warriors and I will ride down to dust, but Christ will live forever.
In our materialistic world, where Christmas seems to be all about giving and receiving presents – if the advertising on TV is to be believed - we need to reflect what Christmas is really all about?
We seem to have lost the plot here in Britain about the meaning of Christmas, with all the extravagant presents we buy each other.