20 December 2009

From Babe to King

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

-Revelation 5:11-14-ESV

I shall begin this post with a paraphrase of a thought from my pastor, Jimmy Caraway (with my own thoughts added):

As we come into the final week of anticipation before we celebrate the day of our Savior’s birth, we can see that the world does not have a problem with out Lord remaining in a manger, but only when He comes to establish His rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.

It is precisely the reality of the lowly Babe in a manger now resurrected as the King of glory that must be etched in the corridors of our minds and bolted to the motives of our hearts if we truly desire to honor Him for who He now is and not to sentimentalize over what He then was.

Of course what I mean by this must be explained, but in my explanation I hope you see the majesty of the One we see the angels heralding that eventful and long-awaited night in the then-insignificant town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). By way of explanation, this post is in no way an attempt at demeaning the celebration of the human birth of our eternal Lord, the only Son of God, second Person of the blessed Trinity. I believe this time of year would be well-spent if we contemplated humanity’s hope born in a stable north of the Pharisaical, self-righteous hotbed of Jerusalem instead of facing the temptations of the anxiety of not giving enough gifts and falling short of family expectations, feasting ourselves to way too much food and giving into the sin of gluttony, and worshipping at the altars of consumerism and humanism, all the while singing the praises of a now-mythologized Saint Nicholas and a red-nosed reindeer that may be able to lead a magical sleigh through a snow squall, but is completely powerless to rescue fallen man as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

It is of utmost importance to remember that our Lord came as a man, born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23), in the lowliest and most unlikely of places: the stall of a manger, complete with the sights and smells one can expect from a filthy barn house (Luke 2:6-7). He did not receive a royal procession with lavish surroundings; this small town of Bethlehem could not house the King of kings even in a lowly inn (Luke 2:7b)! And yet here we find the newborn Lord of all creation, seemingly at the mercy of Joseph and Mary, not counting equality with God something to be considered (see Philippians 2:5-8). This Babe, this sinless, spotless Lamb would grow, be revered and hated, then mostly hated, suffer the sinful wrath of man and the righteous wrath of God on a cross, and then rise again from the grave to defeat death and return to heaven with the glory due Him as the Son of man.

Now, we can see from our passage John being blessed by God to be able to peer into the throne room of Almighty God, with the Lamb being given the same homage and glory as the Father Himself. Our text shows that all of creation, from the glorious, mighty angels above, to every creature in heaven and earth proclaiming that the Lamb is worthy to receive all worship and everything that comes with bowing down before God eternal. Why? Because He is the One who is worthy to rule over all creation, having subjected Himself to the insults, slings, stones, and bludgeonings our fallen humanness had to offer (by the way, He still endures blasphemy, slander, and all manners of sin against Him billions of times over day after day after sin-soaked day) in order to redeem us from: 1) the wrath of God the Father, Yahweh the Almighty, and 2) the bondage to sin and all of its most vile and wicked corruptions. No man born in any estate deserves such adoration, glory, blessing, and might! Our Lord Jesus stooped down as low as anyone could go and took on the form of weakened man, being completely divine and yet also completely human in a wonderful mystery we will not even come close to understanding this side of the veil of mortality, and will even spend all eternity contemplating its wonder, that God omnipotent would become flesh and blood and redeem His elect from before the foundation of the world, humbly beginning as the peasant Son of peasant parents born in a forgotten manger in an unknown town in an oppressed Israel to a people awaiting Messiah!

And Messiah they did receive, though not as they had expected. Like us today, we long for a Messiah that will fulfill our expectations, deliver to us our desires, and be fashioned after our own likeness. This is seen perfectly this time of year, when the very word “Christmas” is censored in order to worship the winter season and all of its fesitivities, and Santa Claus is granted the omniscience of God Almighty, when the popular secular hymn says of him, “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.” And unfortunately, this goodness can only be what Martin Luther accurately called in his commentary on the book of Galatians “active righteousness,” the righteousness we all-too-easily expect a reward for because our own standards gave been appeased (for instance, I wonder how many children this Christmas will give themselves a sack of coal for breaking all of God’s commandments this past year?).

So then, how ought we to live this day? Like we ought live every day, in the reality of the imminence of our Lord’s coming, not counting time as we count it, knowing that a day is a s a thousand years and a thousand years as a day (2 Peter 3:8-10). And as verse 10 states in the passage above, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (ESV). Let us rejoice that our Savior has indeed come and let us receive our King this Christmas, not as a tender Child alone, but also as our consuming Fire, the One who drives us to be holy as He is holy, prompting us to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). Let us worship Him and then strive even more so to be repentant, refusing to allow sins of the heart, mind, or hands to bring any more shame upon the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. O Christian, let this reality pierce you to the core and drive you ever nearer to take up your cross and follow this One who is coming to reclaim His elect, His children, and bring His peace and goodwill to all upon whom His favor rests (Luke 2:14). Amen and Amen, come quickly Lord Jesus and find us faithful to Your Word, not desiring to be ashamed in Your presence, but casting our crowns down to You who alone is worthy!

Soli Deo Gloria