Christmas 2016 – Christmas Q & A
1. Three Questions for Christmas
Revelation 1: 5
You never know how a baby will turn out. It’s a joy to pick up one of my grandsons and walk around the house. A long time ago I picked up his mother and walked around the house. That was in the last century, a nice phrase that reminds me of the passing of the years. I am actually happy because I can look around and see 3 generations in the same room. This grand-parenting business is entirely different from being a parent even though I can’t exactly explain it. I find myself thinking about those little boys and praying for them and wondering how they will turn out.
Parents and grandparents have been wondering about babies since time began. It must have been that way when Jesus was born. Luke 2: 19 - after the shepherds visited Mary and shared what the angels had said to them, she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." There was certainly a lot to think about:
“He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end" (Luke 1: 33).
“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2: 11).
“A sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2: 35).
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.
You never know how a baby will turn out, do you? This one turned out to be the Saviour of the world. But not everyone knows that or understands it or believes it. As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, let’s remind ourselves once again who Jesus really is. Revelation 1: 5 offers a 3 fold picture of our Lord. This is part of John’s introduction to his book where he introduces himself and wishes his readers grace and peace. Here is his description of Jesus Christ: “Who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”
These 3 phrases help us understand the true identity of the baby born in Bethlehem. Each one answers a question we would like to ask about Jesus Christ.
Question # 1: Can I Trust Him? “…the faithful witness…”
This question is the most basic of all. The men and women of this generation have heard the name of Jesus many times. What they want to know is very simple-"Can I trust him?” In a world of religious charlatans, this is where we must begin. We discover the answer in John’s first title. He calls Jesus “the faithful witness.” A witness tells what he has seen or heard. A faithful witness is one whose testimony is reliable every time.
John means that Jesus Christ can be relied upon to tell the truth. When he speaks, he speaks only the truth. His words are absolutely true and authoritative. 1 Timothy 6:13 speaks of “Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate, made the good confession.” What did he say when he stood before Pilate? “I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). Jesus Christ is the supreme truth-teller, and those who want to find the truth must listen to him.
Every person has to deal with this fundamental issue about Jesus – Can I trust him? Some people answer yes, others say no. Until this issue is settled, there is no point in talking about anything else.
Who are you going to believe? Let’s suppose you don’t want to take my word for it. Read the record for yourself. Take 30 days to read the Gospel account. Read the story for yourself and come to your own conclusions. I will tell you what I believe will happen. If you read with an open mind and an open heart, you will come to the inevitable conclusion that what Jesus said is true, that he is the truth, and that his word can be eternally trusted.
I am not saying anything to try to prove it to you. I simply challenge you to read it for yourself. Make up your own mind. When you do, you will find that he is entirely trustworthy.
Can I trust him? Yes I can, for he is the faithful witness.
Question # 2: Does He Have The Power To Help Me? “…the firstborn from the dead…” “If I trust him, does he have the power to help me?” The answer is found in John’s second title for Jesus Christ. He calls him “the firstborn from the dead.” This refers to his resurrection from the dead. When he rose from the dead, he was the “firstborn from the dead.” What exactly does that mean? He is the first person who ever rose from the dead never to die again. During his ministry Jesus raised several people from the dead, including Lazarus who had been dead four days. Each occasion was a remarkable miracle but they had this in common. All of the people Jesus raised would eventually die again.
But not Jesus himself. When he came forth from the tomb on Easter Sunday morning, he rose once and for all. When he left the grave, he left for good. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead in the sense that he is the first in a long line of people who will be raised from the dead never to die again.
I find great comfort in this. Over the years I have presided at many funerals. I know what it’s like to stand at the graveside and try to say something hopeful in the calloused face of death. It’s not easy to pray when someone you love has been taken from you. No wonder the Bible calls death “the last enemy.”
In those moments I find strength in one thing and one thing only. Jesus has conquered the grave and done what no mortal man has ever done. He has come back from the dead never to die again. What happens to those who believe in him? Thank God, we are not left to wonder or to speculate. God himself has spoken on that subject. 1 Thessalonians 4: 14: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”
“If we believe.” It is as simple and as difficult as that. You will never convince yourself of the resurrection by camping out in a cemetery. If you go to a cemetery and wait for a resurrection, you’ll have to wait a long time. After all, the last one happened over 2000 years ago. But we have the word of God which overrides anything we can see with our eyes. Our faith in the resurrection of the dead does not rest in what our eyes can see.
Our faith rests in that act of God whereby he raised Jesus from the dead. If God can do that, he can do anything. Does Jesus have the power to help you? Yes he does, for he is the firstborn from the dead.
Question # 3: Will He Take Care Of My Future? “…the ruler of the kings of the earth…”
“Suppose I do trust him, and suppose he does have the power to help me, will Jesus take care of my future?” The answer comes in John’s final title for Jesus Christ. It is breathtaking in its scope. He calls Jesus “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” The word for “ruler” means he is the ultimate authority over all the kings of the earth. They are great, but he is greater. They are mighty, but he is mightier. Millions answer to earthly rulers, but they answer to Jesus. He is not merely one of the kings. He rules over them all.
In the 1st century the mighty emperor Nero thought he was the ruler of the kings of the earth. He held in his hands the power of life and death. Thumbs up: one man lived. Thumbs down: one man died. It is said that he ordered the burning of Rome and then blamed it on the early Christians. He had Paul the apostle beheaded, thinking that the Christian movement would die with him. But now 2000 years have passed, and the tables have turned. We name our dogs Nero and our sons Paul.
Who are the rulers of the earth John is talking about? They are political leaders in their various spheres – mayors and councillors, chairmen and governors, members of parliament and cabinet ministers, presidents and prime ministers, and kings and queens of every variety. Their names are Obama, Putin, Netanyahu, Kim, Mugabe, Merkel, Zuma and Trump - many others just like them.
Jesus is ruler over them all. It’s true this world is in a mess. That’s why it’s hard to believe this is true. All the evidence seems to move in the opposite direction. The pornographers go free, the baby-killers are untouched, the politicians break the laws they write, the drug dealers make their millions, and the nations arm themselves for total destruction. When you look around, you could make a good case that Satan is the ruler of the kings of the earth.
But it only seems that way. Satan has no power except that granted to him by God. In due time and at the proper moment, Jesus will step back on the stage of world history. Think of it. The hands that were nailed to the cross will someday rule the world. Though we do not see it today, it is certain and sure of fulfillment. That’s what the book of Revelation is all about. Read it for yourself and see how the story ends.
In the meantime, right now and at this very moment, he is the ruler of the kings of the earth. By him they reign. By him they are restrained. By him they are replaced. By him they will be judged.
Will Jesus take care of my future? Yes he will, for he is the ruler of the kings of the earth. You’re in good hands when you are in his hands for those hands rule the universe.
But that wasn’t evident on that first night in Bethlehem. A casual onlooker would not have suspected the earthshaking events that were taking place in a forgotten stable in a tiny village in a remote corner of the Roman Empire. The prospects for the young child didn’t seem very promising. You can never tell how a baby will turn out. But this one would surprise us all. And we are still surprised by him 2000 years later.
What is the application? Grip fast to Jesus Christ. There is no security anywhere else. Today as yesterday and tomorrow as today, he is the answer to the deepest questions of life.
Can I trust him? Yes I can, for he is the faithful witness.
Does he have the power to help me? Yes he does, for he is the firstborn from the dead.
Will he take care of my future? Yes he will, for he is the ruler of the kings of the earth.
We all need him and we need him more than we know. This truth is worth repeating: You’re in good hands when you are in His hands, for those hands rule the universe.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.
Place your life in his strong hands and you will never be disappointed.