Coming of the King (part 5) Sermon Audio

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Last Sunday (Christmas Day) at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 2:13-23.  This message was part 5 in the “Coming of the King” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to/share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the audio:

The Coming of the King #5

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

Hurt Today . . . but Hope for Tomorrow!

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After the birth of Jesus, Herod the Great became aware of the Messiah’s birth through the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12).  As was his norm, Herod became enraged with anger at the thought of anyone questioning his claim to power.  He sought to find the toddler Jesus and kill Him before Jesus could establish any “competition” to Herod’s throne.  Not knowing exactly what the Savior looked like (but knowing His rough age and region of residence), Herod ordered that every male child under the age of 2 living in the region around Bethlehem be killed.  Historians estimate that around 20 children probably lost their life at the tip of Herod’s sword during this tragedy.  However, one of those children who were spared during Herod’s persecution was Jesus, who was rescued to Egypt at divine direction with his family.

As the infant boys of Bethlehem were killed, and as Jesus fled to Egypt, Matthew saw a parallel with that event and the events of Jeremiah 31:15.  (Matthew quotes Jeremiah in Matthew 2:17-18.)  In its original context, Jeremiah personified the weeping of Jewish mother’s as their sons were carted off to exile in the land of Babylon hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.  Not only would these mother’s not see their sons again, but it probably felt as though the future of the nation of Israel (and the promised Messiah) were in jeopardy as well.  Jeremiah personified the nation of Israel through their “mother” Rachel (who was buried near Bethlehem.)  In his Gospel, Matthew sees the nation also weeping as Jesus flees the nation and heads to Egypt while other infants are being slaughtered in Bethlehem.

It certainly must have looked like the world was out of control at that moment.  Things which looked so joyous and promising at Jesus’ birth seemed so hopeless as He exited stage left.  The weeping in Ramah is a symbol of the tears of strain and struggle that this life brings on.  Many of you reading this have your own pain that leads to your own tears.  Death, divorce, disease, etc. challenge our experiential understanding that God is on the throne.  We feel like we are standing at the roadside watching hope walk away all too often in our lives.

BUT, at Christmas time, we need to remember that HOPE CAME HOME.  Jesus did not stay in Egypt . . . but He came back, eventually dying on the cross for our sins.  Jeremiah 31 again proves to be a helpful supportive text.  Matthew quoted Jeremiah 31:15:

“Thus says the LORD: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.  Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children because they are no more.'”

No doubt, however, Matthew also had in mind Jeremiah 31:16-17, which continues:

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.  There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.”

Not only did Israel come back from the Babylonian exile, but Jesus came back from Egypt.  AND . . . though there are tears we cry today, we need to remember that (one of these tomorrows) Jesus is coming back for us as well!

We have a real and certain hope in this life . . . and that hope is found in Jesus Christ.  As we celebrate and remember His first Advent at Christmas, let us also fix our hope on His second Advent, and remember that He is coming back.  Though there is weeping in Ramah today, we have a living HOPE FOR TOMORROW!

Merry Christmas friends!

 

Coming of the King (part 5) Sermon Questions

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This Christmas morning at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 2:13-23.  This message was part 5 in the “Coming of the King” series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 2:13-23
  3. When you think of Bethlehem (where Jesus was born), what are some adjectives you might use to describe the “little town” of your dreams/thoughts? (i.e. “Peaceful,” “Joyous,” etc.)
  4. Jesus is born in Bethlehem but immediately is faced with opposition (even as an infant).  This reminds us of John 1:9-11, and how the world largely does not understand Jesus.  What are some of the ways you have seen the world not recognize Jesus for who He is?  Why do you think His true identity and message are so often “missed” by the world around you?
  5. Because Jesus is not received by the world, there is a lot of hurt as a result.  What are some evidences of “hurt” that you see in the world today?
  6. There is great hope for tomorrow because of Jesus.  What are you looking forward to most about the return of Jesus Christ to the earth?
  7. What is an application you have taken from today’s message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

December 25: Jesus Christ on the Cross

Art by Addison Mullinax and Cheyann Riopelle
Art by Addison Mullinax and Cheyann Riopelle

Read: John 3:16 (Jesus Christ on the cross)

On Christmas Day, Jesus was born.  However, He did not stay an infant.  He grew up in this world and experienced what you and I experience.  He was hungry and thirsty; encouraged and discouraged; warm and cold; tired and rested.  For three decades Jesus lived out a perfect life on this planet.  At the end of His life He began a public ministry, performing miracles to remind us that God cares for weak and provides healing.  He walked on water and cast out demons to demonstrate that He had power over all things. He taught sermons and told parables to help people understand the Kingdom of God.  He trained a set of disciples and commissioned them to change the world. Finally, after all this, He willingly and intentionally allowed Himself to be arrested and killed. Though sinless, He died for sin (our sin).  Though He really died, He rose again (to offer us a new life).  The beauty of Christmas is best seen NOT in the shadow of a Christmas tree, but in the shadow of the cross.  This Christmas day, know this: God loves you and offers a way for you to be with Him forever.  Anyone who believes in Jesus can have eternal life.

Question of the Day: Do you believe in Jesus?

December 24: Magi

Art by Eric McMullan and Layton Teichroeb
Art by Eric McMullan and Layton Teichroeb

Read: Matthew 2:1-12 (Magi)

In your home, you may have a  nativity set containing small figures representing the people present at the birth of Jesus.  At your nativity set, all these pieces appear similar and equal distances from the Savior.  However, when the Christmas story first played out, the various groups of visitors to the manger were quite different.  The shepherds were Jewish peasants who lived in the fields near where Jesus was born.  The Magi, however, were Gentile scholars who lived far away in the East.  The picture of both shepherds and Magi at the manger remind us that ALL are invited to come to Jesus regardless of our background.

Question of the Day: Who is someone you think is very far from Jesus who you could call, text, or email to wish Merry Christmas to?

December 23: King Herod

Art by Chloe Garceau and Gracie Morris
Art by Chloe Garceau and Gracie Morris

Read: Matthew 2:1-6, 16-18 (King Herod)

Have you ever known a bully?  Someone who pushed other people around and tried to make themselves greater by making everyone else feel less?  The biggest bully on the block in Israel during the first century was a man named Herod.  Herod was a ruthless man who was always paranoid that someone else would take his position or power.  Herod’s fear of losing power caused him to go into a full panic when he heard that someone was born (Jesus) who was the promised Messiah.  Amazingly, Herod tried to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem around the time of Jesus birth, but God protected Jesus’s life.  King Herod took the lives of many.  The King of Kings (Jesus Christ) would give His life to provide forgiveness and eternal life for all who would receive Him.

Question of the Day: What are ways in which you (or people you know) act like Herod sometimes?  (Maybe not act as BAD as Herod did, but try to take things from people instead of giving life to others?)

December 22: Mary Treasures in Her Heart

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Read: Luke 2:19 (Mary treasures in her heart)

What do you treasure?  Some treasure certain possessions like a car, a house, a particular toy or gadget.  Others treasure another person – a child, friend, parent, or celebrity.  Still others treasure ideas: things they have learned or experienced over time.  After the birth of Jesus, Luke 2:19 tells us that Mary treasured all the memories of the past 9 months in her heart. 

Question of the Day: What are some of the things about Jesus Christ that you “treasure” in your heart?

December 21: Shepherds

Art by Lydia Bouchard and Miley Riopelle
Art by Lydia Bouchard and Miley Riopelle

Read: Luke 2:8-20 (Shepherds)

Have you ever seen a VIP list?  VIP stands for “Very Important Person” and people on a VIP list typically get special treatment for a specific event.  For instance, a VIP at a music concert might get front row seats and a chance to go back stage to meet the star after the show.  Usually VIP’s are people of great influence or popularity.  When the Angels appeared in Luke 2, they treat a group of shepherds as VIP’s to the event of the birth of Jesus.  They are invited to go “backstage” to see Jesus in the manger and have the first chance to tell others all they have seen.  However, the shepherds were not people of great influence or popularity.  They were as “normal” as they come . . . yet God wants to use them in His plan.

Question of the Day: Like the shepherds we have been invited to be VIP’s who get to share who Jesus is with all around us.  Who can you share the truth about Jesus with this week?

December 20: Angels who Spoke to the Shepherds

Art by Maggie Koch and Brooke Warren
Art by Maggie Koch and Brooke Warren

Read: Luke 2:8-14 (Angels who spoke to shepherds)

Have you ever had the opportunity to share good news with someone else?  I remember when I was a child running into my living room to announce to my Dad that his brothers had just arrived to surprise him for his 40th birthday.  It was fun to share good news.  Can you imagine how excited the Angels were to share the Good News about Jesus with the shepherds?  They came to declare “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Question of the Day:  Why was Jesus birth such good news inspiring great joy for all the people?

December 19: Sheep

Art by Jack T. and Blake V.
Art by Jack T. and Blake V.

Read: Luke 2:8 (sheep)

In the fields very near the location where Jesus was born, shepherds were watching their sheep.  Though we do not know for certain, it is very probable that the sheep these shepherds were watching were being raised to be Passover sheep.  Once a year, Jewish families would sacrifice a sheep on the Passover holiday as a reminder of God’s salvation of Israel in the past, His covering of their sins in the present, and a hope for His provision of ultimate salvation in the end.  Because Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins, we need not sacrifice sheep any longer . . . Jesus Himself is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Question of the Day:  Have you ever trusted in Jesus Christ as your savior to take away the penalty your sins deserve?