(summary of the sermon from 1/7/2024)

I am many things to many people — father, brother, husband, son, teacher, pastor, customer — and yet I am all me. Just as you and I are many things to many people, Jesus is many things. In this sermon series, “Jesus is…,” we will explore six identities of Jesus: newborn King, Son of Man, Fisher of Men, The Authority, Man of Prayer, and Son of God. In each, we see Jesus differently but all are fully Jesus.

Last Sunday, we started with the visit of the Magi, led by a star to seek the newborn King of the Jews. Why were Magi from the East watching for a new king of the Jews? That answer takes us back five centuries before Jesus.

Daniel was one of the Jewish leaders deported to Babylon when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah. After a series of incidents that showed Daniel’s wisdom, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Daniel the chief of the Magi. The knowledge of the coming Jewish messiah was handed down from generation to generation until that surprising event when the Magi showed up to worship Jesus.

The Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Here is what those three gifts are in the context of the first century:

  • Gold is a precious metal that has been used for jewelry, ornaments, currency, and idols throughout human history because of its color and shine.
  • Frankincense is an expensive fragrance or perfume made from trees in India and Arabia.
  • Myrrh is a specific kind of costly perfume made from rare thorn bushes in Arabia and Ethiopia that is used as an antiseptic 

Jesus is the newborn King. But, unlike other mortal kings, Daniel told us that Jesus is an eternal king:

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

In Jesus’ day, a person was king (or queen) of whatever territory they could control. For the time being, Jesus is a voluntary king. He is a king who woos us with his love and sacrifice. He is a king who leads from the front in all that he expects of those who want to be part of his kingdom. One day, every knee will bow to Jesus in his glory. But for now, King Jesus has a simple directive for those who want to be in his kingdom: love:

John 13:34–35 (ESV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus' central command to love one another is grounded in His own example of love demonstrated through his baptism, life, death, and resurrection. Our hearts are won over by his love for us. Like knights of old, we look to King Jesus and say, “Your wish is my command.”

The teaching of Jesus is that we should love others like the rain falls to the earth, indiscriminately, on the good and evil alike.

Matthew 5:43–47 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

What does this mean for us? It means love is a decision about how to treat people and how to relate to them. It means that we love when we don’t feel like it. To have Jesus as king means you:

  • Love your enemies against your own better judgment (you desire the best for them rather than gloating in their downfall)
  • Pray for those who persecute you over and against your natural inclinations
  • Forgive those who sin against you even it doesn’t feel right
  • Be patient when you don’t feel like it
  • Choose to act kindly when others aren’t being kind to you
  • Reject jealousy when it arises
  • Refuse to be boastful or rude no matter what the circumstance.
  • Stop keeping a record of wrongs against you

It may not be easy or natural, but it is what King Jesus says. And for followers of King Jesus, his wish is our command. My own experience is that I have never regretted it when I was not sure what to do and I did things according to the command of King Jesus. You won't either.

Grace and peace to you,