The Jewish King of Christmas

Candlelight Ceremony of Lessons and Carols

Bethlehem Baptist Church | Minneapolis

The following is a lightly edited transcript

The passage of Scripture that has riveted my attention this Advent season, more than any other, is the word of Gabriel to Mary, in explanation of what this child was to be like. In Luke 1:31–33 he said:

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

An Everlasting Kingdom for Jews and Gentiles

There are two reasons why that text has held me. One reason is because it holds out a hope to me for something I crave very much; the other is because it puts a stumbling block in the way. I want more than anything else, to not give my life to any cause, or to any person, or to any venture that abandons me when I die. I don’t want to devote myself to anything that won’t help me die. This text says Christ will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom, there will be no end. Therefore, I know this king has conquered death, and therefore, all the subjects in his kingdom can be helped at the point of death. He can raise them again. He doesn’t have to leave them.

I want this cause and I want this man, but there’s a stumbling block. He’s a Jew and his kingdom is Jewish. What does it say?

The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever …

I don’t belong to the house of Jacob. My mother was from Germany and my father was from England. I don’t have a drop of Jewish blood in my body, but I want to be a part of this kingdom. I want to last forever. The most important question you can ask as a Gentile here tonight is this: What does this Jewish king have to do with me? The Bible gives an answer. The answer is Christmas. Let me give it to you in four steps over the next few minutes:

1. God came to Abraham, the father of the Jews and said, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

So from the beginning, we’re alerted, in the Jewish scriptures, that it’s not just for Jews. It’s through the Jews for all the families of the earth.

2. God comes to Abraham in Genesis 17:4, and he says, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.”

So how is he going to bring blessing to the families of the earth? By being their father. Somehow Abraham is going to become the father of a multitude of nations, maybe even Swedish-born Americans, or Germans, or just plain old Americans — maybe. But how?

3. In Galatians 3:28–29, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

Christ is the link between the Jewish promise made to the heir of Abraham and us, Gentiles. How do you get linked up with Christ? This passage is saying, “Anybody who belongs to Christ, anybody who is identified with Christ, is an heir of the promise made to Abraham, and they belong to the house of Jacob.”

4. Then, Galatians 3:7 says, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”

There is no stumbling block in this verse for people who believe in Christ. The best Christmas present we on the staff could offer you tonight, is simply to invite you: Believe on Christ. Become part of the household of Jacob, Gentile. Become part of an eternal kingdom that will never end, and know a joy unending and full of glory.

Would you stand with me for the benediction?

Now, unto you Lord Jesus Christ, be glory, and honor, and power, and majesty, and authority, and praise, forever and ever. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth, and everyone in this room, receive the King. Amen.