Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 25 December 2014
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Character of the Xmas Story Series – Jesus (5)
The Son of David
Angels appeared to shepherds in the field, announcing the birth of Jesus, and saying – Luke 2:11: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.” Earlier another angel had explained to his mother – Luke 1:30-33: “Do not be afraid, Mary … You will conceive and give birth to a son … 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.” Born in the town of David, as a descendant of David, Jesus was to inherit the throne of David. This was important.
One book in the Bible – the book of Matthew – begins by making Jesus’ relationship with David absolutely clear from the outset – Matthew 1:1: “This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Later in life, Jesus would bear the title “Son of David”.
Matthew 15:22: A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Matthew 21:15-16: But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
David was a significant king in the history of God’s people but how could Jesus be defined by him or receive honour by being associated with him? It should have been the other way round. In comparison to Jesus, the Son of God from heaven – through whom the whole cosmos was created, and who is God (together with the Father and the Holy Spirit – all-knowing, all-powerful, without sin, forever glorious) – David was a nobody and would have been lucky to be a tiny footnote in the history of Jesus: David, the minion, waiting for Jesus, the true Saviour King of all the world.
Yet, Jesus was proud to be called the “Son of David”. The Son of God was happy to be defined by a man. What is this telling us – today at Christmas? I think that it is a great encouragement never to despise the days of small beginnings. David ruled a small kingdom and wielded his sword against other human soldiers – it was all rather physical and earthly (foreshadowing what was to come in another dimension) – but Jesus would establish a kingdom that would have no end (spanning the earth and then reaching into the heavens for all eternity) and he defeated super-human enemies – sin, death and the devil. David sat on his throne in Jerusalem for a few short years but Jesus – raised from the dead and being seated at the right hand of God, the Father – he reigns for ever. David reigned over a few people – less than the population of New Zealand – but Jesus reigns over countless angels and millions upon millions of people who confess his name and rule – here and in eternity.
There is no comparison between David and Jesus – Jesus and David – but David mattered – his character mattered and what he did mattered. The Bible says that, in David, God chose a man after his own heart and, one day, David was troubled that he lived in a nice house but the place of worship – God’s place – was a mere tent. He thought that this was not right because he (really) loved God. Therefore, he purposed to build a precious and solid house for God but God looked at him – his heart and everything – and he made him a promise: There would always be one of his heirs on the throne of God’s people. In the days of small beginnings, God promised David a dynasty and it would culminate in glory with Jesus.
Acts 13:22: After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”
2 Samuel 7:4-16: But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in … The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever … Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
No one could have foreseen what would happen in the future but David mattered. The days of small beginnings mattered and set up the future. At Christmas, Jesus was born as the Son of David, heir to his throne and expanding God’s reign from there.
Is your life significant? Does your faithfulness – your heart before God – count for you and your family and your church and your city and nation? Yes, it does. For most of us, these may be days of small beginnings – (not much influence, not much money, not a great reputation, no great achievements) – but God is in these days and he can use them to accomplish anything in the future.
There is another message in Jesus’ identity as the Son of David: Forgiveness is real! David had a heart for God but he messed up – big time. After enjoying God’s favour and promotion to kingship – at one time – David indulged in laziness, committed adultery, lied and murdered the woman’s husband – a loyal soldier (risking his life for the king) – in order to cover up his sin. It could not have been any worse and God judged the misconduct but – looking at David’s remorse and repentance – he also forgave him:
Psalm 51: For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge …
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me …
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise …
2 Samuel 12:13-14: Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”
I feel like bringing up again David’s failure. (In fact, I have just told you the story again.) How can you forget what happened but God forgives and forgets and is not embarrassed to add his name to the name of David? (Sin may have tarnished David’s name in the eyes of others but God forgives and there is power in his forgiveness.)
In the same way, Jesus – the Son of David – also forgives you. There is nothing that you may have done that is beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. Nothing is more important to Jesus – Matthew 1:21: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus came to be king – an heir of David – to reign in power over sin because none of us is without sin. We all suffer from its curse – the judgement of death and eternal separation from God.
Yet, Jesus came to reign and he sacrificed his life on behalf of us:
Luke 23:36-43: The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Colossians 2:9-15: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority …
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Jesus – as King – laid down his life for you so that the power of sin would be broken over your life. As he rose from the dead, so you will not remain dead in sin but rise to life in God because of Jesus. Believe in him. Forgiveness is real.
It is so real that Jesus is not only the Son of David but also associates himself with you. Jesus is not embarrassed by you at all but makes you his messenger – his ambassador – the temple of his Spirit:
Luke 24:46-49: He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Luke 10:16: Whoever listens to you listens to me …
Acts 19:13: … In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches …
There is still another lesson in Jesus as the Son of David: God is real. David did not know – would have never guessed – that the heir of his throne would be God himself – the Son of God. He would have never guessed that Jesus would be born as a baby (that his human mother would be a virgin) and that he would later die on a cross and rise again from death for the forgiveness of humankind and eternal life. He would have been dumbfounded if he had known that Jesus would never bear arms and not establish a human throne with earthly riches and splendour. (Jesus remained poor.) He would have never conceived of the church and Christians all over the world being filled with the Spirit (like he was). David did not know the gift of tongues and miraculous healings and other miracles.
Yet, it was not important for David to know everything about God because God was real in his life. God is never a God of perfect theory – a mere concept of the mind – because our knowledge of God is always limited. God will always blow our mind – confuse and confound us at times. Why is God doing this? Why is God doing that? Why is our nation in mourning over the hostage crisis in Sydney? Why is Jesus not returning to earth sooner? We cannot grasp God with our small human minds but we can know that he is real because he can and must be experienced. David knew so little but he knew enough – experienced enough of God – to pray words that are still meaningful to us:
Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Even before David – maybe because people back then knew even less of God – God was defined – not by doctrine or elaborate explorations of truth – this was before God even revealed his name to Moses – God was defined by what people experienced of him and with him – history (not theory and speculation). For a long time, God was known as the God of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob and he introduced himself in this manner (again not being ashamed of these men):
Exodus 3:6: Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”
What did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob experience with God? They heard his voice and experienced his provisions. I give you just one key experience:
Romans 4:18-25: Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Abraham had heard God give him a promise – the promise of a son – and Abraham believed him even though, as Abraham became an old man, it would take a miracle to come true. Yet, Abraham experienced the miracle and this whole experience – faith in a miracle because it was promised – became the foundation principle for the Christian faith in Jesus who was also a son of Abraham.
God is real. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob and the God of David is real and – through the Son of David, Jesus Christ, who honoured the history of God with his people and continued it – God is also your God. Jesus is not the son of abstract theory and speculation but the Son of David grounded in history. He is real and you can experience him (before you understand him fully) and, at Christmas, Jesus shows us just how real he has been willing to become. He was born a human baby, placed in a manger, in the middle of the night, surrounded by animals. He spoke and ate and lived among us. Then, his body was nailed to a real cross and he died a real death until he was raised back to life with real power over the grave for all of us. This is history, not mere ideas.
I come to a close and repeat our main points. Jesus Christ, born at Christmas, is the Son of David and takes pride in his human heritage – the title “Son of David”. Back in history, David’s days were days of small beginnings but how can they be despised when God honours them and makes them great in time. Never despise days of small beginnings. Then, forgiveness is real because David’s worst sins included adultery and murder but they did not define him. God forgave him and Jesus became known as the Son of David. Finally, God is real. He is the God of real people who have experienced real things with God. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, David, you and I who can trace our human history with God because he is real.
This morning, are you happy to make this a day of small beginnings with Jesus? Do you want to get a taste that forgiveness is real and that God is real? Exercise faith and talk to him. He can hear you and he will respond. Amen.