What Child is this?
What Child is this?
Christmas time is here. Many are scurrying to buy presents, decorate houses, travel. Some are gathering around manger scenes to praise God for sending his Son into the world. Some are not. This season is special in many ways but in some ways it is an overflow of how we live every other day. And as this season focuses on the birth of Jesus it may raise the question of “What child is this?” Who is that child in the manger. Was he a good person who grew up to leave a good example for us to follow. Was he a madman who was delusional, feigned death on a cross, and disappeared into obscurity. Was he just a normal man who appeared out of nowhere, had his moment in the sun and now is done. Do we follow him or do we laugh at those who do?
Jesus did not appear out of nowhere. His coming was long expected. He is not an ordinary person any more than his birth and death were ordinary. He is not just a good person, though he was that, he is more. He is the Savior of the world and the true king all should bow down and submit to.
This psalm we are looking at today is about the messiah. It is about the one who would be Lord of all. Who would minister to all. Written almost a thousand years before Christ came, we will see how it points to him. It is a coronation song for the long awaited messiah.
A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." 2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head. (Psalm 110:1-7 ESV)
Prop: Jesus is the messiah, the true priest and king, and we offer our lives in service to him.
We are looking at three things about the child in the manger.
The Child is a King
When you first read this psalm you wonder who is speaking to who? The Lord is speaking to my Lord. This psalm was written by David, and here the author steps out from the backdrop. He is front and center and he is speaking about The Lord (Yahweh), speaking to his/my Lord (adonai). Clearly the God of the universe is making the utterance. People debate who the Lord is. Adonai was used for God. It is mainly to indicate a person in authority over another, of which God would be preeminent, but it can also be of earthly people in charge. So it may be a little confusing. David is referring to God speaking to one who is David’s Lord, one King David serves and is under his authority.
[And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.' 37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?" And the great throng heard him gladly. (Mark 12:35-37 ESV)
We have looked at psalms and their superscriptions, the notations that give context for the psalm like the author and historical settings.
The pharisees didn’t believe Jesus was the messiah, but they did believe in and expect a messiah to come. It was not that they didn’t believe in a messiah, they just didn’t believe Jesus was that messiah. No king would be born in a manager, of Nazareth, of a carpenter. A king would come riding in on a horse to conquer. No debate the messiah would be over David.
Consider what is going on. Some of you have kids. Some of you have grandkids. Would you ever call your child your Lord? Would you ever call your grandchild your Lord? That is a great boast. They have not reached their full potential, and even if they did it is likely you would never bow down to them. Now consider if you were a king, God’s chosen king, it's probably even more likely that you would not say this. But what is in view here is the promise God made with David in about 940 BC that David would be king and one day he would have a son that would reign on his throne forever.
[And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. (2 Samuel 7:11-12 ESV)
David, and all of Israel is waiting for a king who will come and do God’s will fully and completely, and in doing so will lead all God's people into a great victory, and because he never does wrong he will never lose his throne, never fall out of favor with God, never disappoint his people, never …
This makes sense of the rest of the psalm. This Lord of David is going to come and extend a mighty scepter from Zion, he will rule all his enemies, his enemies will be a footstool for his feet.
After a hard days work, you go and sit down and put your feet up right. Take a load off. You don’t do that when enemies are threatening you. He establishes a reign of peace.
This psalm is applied to Jesus after his resurrection,
[This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.' (Acts 2:32-35 ESV)
Jesus didn’t just come out of nowhere, there is a long expectation of a great king, deliverer, Savior, to come to the people. Now they certainly thought this king would come in the ordinary way that people come into the world. Jesus comes uniquely. And that is because only he can.
Genealogy. This psalm looks to the coming of the great king. He will be David’s Lord. Kings require submitting.
The child in the manger is a king. When Mary was found to be with child an angel spoke to her and said,
[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, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Luke 1:32-33 ESV)
The Child is a Priest
The second aspect this psalm points to is he will be a priest. The people long awaited a great king that would come to conquer, but this is a side of his office that was not clearly seen apart from this psalm. There are few references to this aspect.
It’s kind of like these pictures. It’s hard to make out at first. Once you see it then it is hard to unsee. It takes a bit to get there. I think this also connects with the pictures of Jesus given in the Old Testament. It can be hard to discern what it is saying.
Why a king and priest? Remember the nation of Israel is a kingdom, but its focus is not on the things of this world. They certainly wanted a king to rule them but the ideal king is not just one with a great economic plan but corrupt in other ways. The US will settle for presidents who bring a good economy at the expense of personal integrity. This is well documented on both sides of the political fence. Could you imagine a president who could also function as a priest, and do it without gasps and snickers, and I’m talking more than just an online certificate. Anybody can get an online certificate. I am talking about a real deal priest who would enter into the most holy place. A king who can represent you before God and lead you in his ways.
King Uzziah was struck with leprosy because he offered incense to God when he was not authorized to do that. (2 Chronicles 26:16-21.)
The new king would have the holy office of priest.
Can see why it’s good for a king to be a priest, problem is people were born into the priesthood just like they were born into the kingship. The kingship was given to David and his family, this is why when you read the account of Jesus birth there are long genealogies. Only prophets, priests, and kings get genealogies, so when you see one it is marking someone significant. So the eternal king would come from the line of David. Priest came from the line of Aaron and the Levites. The two lines are not connected.
He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is the name of a mysterious figure in the Bible. He appears in Genesis 14. His name means King of Peace. After Abraham saves his nephew Lot, Genesis says,
[And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Genesis 14:18-20 ESV)
Melchizedek has no geneaology. No line of priest through his family. And yet he blesses Abraham and Abraham even pays a tithe to him. Tithes were brought to priests in the temple to further the work of God.
How would this theme of eternal king and also a priest come together. Jesus will be priest not based on lineage but something else (indestructable life)
The messiah is a king. He is a priest. Priests intercede for you. They make atonement for your sins. Christmas is about peace with God. Many Christmas stories with a search for peace. A way to make things right once again.
This is an important role in the Christmas movies. A Christmas Carol is about the grumpy old man Scrooge who is visited by Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. These figures are essentially mediating between where he is and where he needs to be. They are interceding for him. Priests mediate for people, they relate God’s will to them and try to help them on the path. The problem with A Christmas Carol, or should I say one of them, is that there is no definite path for Scrooge, it's about being a better person. That is a goal of priest but it finds its core in becoming more like God as we are commanded to. But this priestly role, the guide by the side is in many other movies. A hero has a problem and a guide appears to challenge him and show him the way. Star Wars fans find it in Yoda who is trying to help the confused Luke Skywalker find the power and conviction to face the darkside. It happens in so many movies.
Many movies have this role of a guide who helps the hero, who gives them a plan and calls them to action. It's not a coincidence those stories work. God has designed humans to want, need, crave that. The ultimate priest is Jesus and all others are shadows of the true.
And this connects to you. Our priest is Jesus Christ. He interceded for us, he makes the sacrifice for us to be reconciled, he leads us in the way, and as we follow him we realize our call is to folllow him in a priestly role. Priesthood of all believers (1 Peter). You are to go and help people get over their problems to serve the king. Help them know God’s word. Advise them. If you don't know where to start simply hang out with someone, you are going to hear their problems, ask questions get to know them, and say “How can I pray for you?” Commit to praying for them and as you see things that might help them send it to them.
I have been praying for a friend battling addictions. Every now and then I come across verses that might help him and I send them to him. I might text him a link to a message and say listen to this.
You do this with your kids, friends, when you see people in need it is a time to emulate your savior. This prophet, priest, and king.
People sit home on couch and see no need for church. That's because they don't see a purpose to their lives, a calling to help others. Selfishness robs us of the more important and valuable parts of life, and the church isn’t giving people a greater vision for their lives and not helping them see the differences they can make in others.
Priests also offer sacrifices. What is amazing is the sacrifice this priests makes. Animals were sacrificed to atone for sin. It is one of the great mercies of God that he accepts substitutionary offerings. Disobedience deserves punishment, and God make a way for love to triumph. But what sacrifice could atone for sin. The repetitive nature of all those offerings show they were not what was really needed.
Like fixing the house. You know that whatever broke you can put a little duct tape on, and it will need fixing again in a few months, but it works. If you want a permanent fix you do it the right way and you don't need to fix it again. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice.
Sacrifice makes atonement. During the holidays we see people trying to make up for wrongs. Home Alone is about a young bratty kid who wishes his family away and though the emphasis is commically about him protecting the house from theives, he is restored to his family through his sacrifice. Sacrifice brings together, and we need restoration with God.
Familiar verse at Christmas in Isaiah. The book of Isaiah has references to this king from the line of David in chapters 9, 11, but then it takes a turn and in chapter 53 the servant, the hero is one who will lay down his life, be a sacrifice, through his stripes we would be healed.
Who can fill this role. The virgin birth is a marvel. You could not extrapolate from Psalm 110 to Matt 1 but once you see it how can it be any other way. He is a priest forever. Succession lines were made for priests because they died. This figure, this Lord of David has no successor.
The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, (Psa 110:4 ESV)
Indicate the absolute character of the oath, that it cannot be annulled or suspended in consequence of any altered circumstances; that no change of counsel or of conduct in the parties concerned shall cause any change in the divine purpose. He will not change his mind as he did with Saul. It is a forever reign.
[who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 7:16-17 ESV)
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, (Hebrews 10:12 ESV)
The Child is One who is Served
3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments
This means there is a response of following. David willingly serves him. The great king bows before him. All those who believe in him will serve him willingly, wholeheartedly.
“All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. (Exo 35:29 ESV)
free inclination. voluntary gift, free-will offering They want to serve and follow him. Go into battle.
The gospel advances through people willingly surrendering their lives to Jesus. It doesn’t advance through the sword. People have done this in the past. Trust in Jesus or die now. People will convert. But it is not with faith. It is not with wholeheartedness. True faith comes from the heart. It is genuine belief, and it leads to genuine service to God. It does not mean that it is not at times hard to follow Jesus, but it does mean there is an inward desire that overflows into voluntary service. Willing service. They want to do what God calls them to.
It's the difference in cats and dogs. Your dog wants to do what you say. They have a natural inclination to please and serve you. It might not be pretty, they might not always understand but they want to do it. A cat on the other hand just looks at you. Completely indifferent. Tell them to do something and they leave the room and will come back for you when they feel like being petted.
When you see Jesus call to follow him do you jump with eagerness to do it. Do you jump up to love others. To forgive your friend, your spouse. Are you quick to show love. How about telling others about Jesus. Are you quick to do that or do you make excuses. It's hard - yes. Are you asking others and learning from them.
We like to leave Jesus as a baby. It’s much easier to ignore a baby because you don’t think about submitting to them. We have to remember who this child is. He is Christ the king. He is king of Kings. He is the priest who makes . He calls us to submit our life to him. Put him first. Seek his will for our life. Do hard things. Jesus didn’t die so you could be comfortable.
People came bearing gifts for Jesus. We ought to do the same today.
Is he your Lord. Are you following him. If I told you that you were breaking the law of the US government would you be concerned with that. Most of you would. Some of you might not.
We are such an autonomous culture. We don’t want anything to interfere with our own personal choice. We think we know best. Do whatever makes me happy. To go against the king will not lead to happiness. Jumping the white house fence. It will not go well.
Sometimes complete freedom is the worst thing. Imagine a person going into the hospital because they are sick, all they eat is fried chicken, big macs and they love it. The doctor tells them if they keep doing that it is going to kill them. Suddenly they have a choice to make. Will they continue in complete freedom or will they limit themselves in their food choices and get healthy.
[and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." (Luke 2:34-35 ESV)
How is Jesus the long awaited King? What does it mean to say Jesus is your king?
How is Jesus a priest? What does it mean to say Jesus is your priest?
What does it look like to serve Jesus freely and willingly? Is there anything Jesus calls you to do that you are not surrendering to him?