Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas' glorious King revealed

Luke 2:12-14 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Introduction: What is the glory of God and why it is important?
When we talk about God's glory, the place to start looking for a clear definition is at Exodus 33:18-19 "Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” God's glory is when He puts the entirety of the goodness of His Divine nature on display. The Pocket Dictionary of Theological terms describes God's glory as: "The Biblical concept of glory carries with it connotations of inexpressible beauty and majesty."1 

Theologian J. Oliver Buswell writes this helpful insight on God's glory in regards to its significance: "That His love, His goodness, His holiness, and His justice should be infinitely magnified among all His creatures is the highest conceivable goal of all finite events. There is even a partial analogy, in the proper place of parents in the home, to the centrality of the glory of God in the universe. Parents who do not train their children to show proper respect are sinning against the entire household."2

How Christmas' glorious King is revealed
When it comes to the Christmas or advent season, the theme of God's glory is central. Salvation describes the chief work of God, with His glory being the main aim or purpose. God's glory is central to the Person of the Son coming to be virgin born, live, die, raise from the dead and ascend to the Father's right hand. God was pleased to have the fulness of the Godhead bodily dwell or be expressed through the Son as He came to also exist as a human being. (Colossians 2:9) When we focus equal attention on how God's glory will be revealed in Christ's second coming or advent, we find in Revelation 19:1-8 the theme of glory on His throne and His glory displayed in His church. With these thoughts in mind we aim in this post to briefly understand how Christmas' glorious King is revealed by consideration of four main thoughts:
1. The King's glory in His nativity. 
2. The King's glory on the cross.
3. The King's glory on His throne.
4. The King's glory in His church.

1. The King's glory in His nativity. 
Whenever we consider the events surrounding Jesus' nativity, the various witnesses of the infant Christ testify to His glory. Concerning the shepherds we read in Luke 2:16-19 "So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child." The shepherds "heard" of the glory of the Son from the heavenly hosts, however they also saw the glory for themselves by beholding God in human flesh in the manger. 

Let the reader note two other witnesses of the infant Christ and how they concluded that they were seeing the glorious King of Christmas. Simeon states in Luke 2:32 - "A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,And the glory of Your people Israel.” Shortly or near the same moment, the aged woman Anna the prophetess came and testified in Luke 2:38 "At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem."

Now how do we know that what these witness were beholding was nothing less than the display of the Son's Deity through frail humanity? Consider John's statement in John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." 2 Corinthians 4:6 plainly notes: "For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Other passages in the New Testament letters testify to the fact that the Son's existence as a man did in no way take away from the fact that He was God at the same time. (1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 1:2) So Christmas' glorious King is revealed in His nativity. But notice also...

2. The King's glory on the cross.
Though Christ's journey to the cross would witness an increase in his humiliation, nevertheless He still retained the full glory of His deity - albeit veiled by His full humanity. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 6:14 - "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." The word translated "boast" is rendered "glory" in other English versions such as the KJV and Amplified Bible. Truly to boast about Jesus Christ is identical to glorifying Him. This is why the Holy Ghost says through Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:2 that he would have us to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The shadow of the cross is connected to the cradle. As the ancient church father Tertullian notes, the death of Christ necessarily implied His birth, being that whatever dies must needs have a birth. So Christmas' glorious King is revealed in His nativity, on the cross and thirdly...

3. The King's glory on His throne.
When we turn to Revelation 19:1-6 we see a four-fold hallelujah being sung on account of what will be the Son's glorious victory over his enemies: Satan, the anti-Christ and the evils of men. Revelation 19:1 states - "After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God." Now three main reasons are given in Revelation 19:1-6 as to why the glory of Jesus Christ on His throne is being praised:

a. The glory of His redemption, which display His grace and love for His people. 19:1

b. The glory of His judgments, which display His justice and holiness. 19:2-3

c. The glory of His Sovereignty, which displays the fact that He reigns. 19:4-6

The glorious revealed King, Jesus Christ, is coming again in power. In His first coming he came in frailty. The purpose for which Christ came the first time was to wear a crown of thorns and to be nailed to a cross to die. His resurrection and ascension heralded the fact that He would coming again a second time. The second coming will feature Him returning with a crown and a scepter of judgment in His nailed printed hand. Truly the glory of God manifested in fullness in Christ's humanity in His first coming will in the fullness of His glorified humanity display His endless power in His second coming.  So we see Christmas' glorious revealed King revealed in His nativity, His cross, on His throne and then lastly...

4. The King's glory in His church.
Revelation 19:7-8 states: "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." Truly was this not the intent of Christ's incarnation in His nativity, His death on the cross and what will be the manifestation of His glory at His second coming? To reveal His glory through His saints. Ephesians 5:26-27 verifies this thought - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless." 

Based off of the thoughts of C.S Lewis, it was for this purpose that Christ came to become man, so that for all who believe, whom He has called, whom He has chosen to be His bride, may become sons of God. Hebrews 2:11-14 ties in the fact that Jesus Christ came to partake of our humanity by becoming a man, so that we as human beings could partake of His Divine nature and thus have union with His person. (compare 2 Peter 1:4)

This we know: the depths of God's glory in Christ reached down to a manger and a cross, and the heights thereof reach high to the very throne upon which He sits. However the breadth of that glory will be most supremely shown in and among and through all those believers whom He loves, and who in turn love Him both now and forever. 

 We have explored today how Christmas' glorious King is revealed by consideration of four main thoughts:
1. The King's glory in His nativity. 
2. The King's glory on the cross.
3. The King's glory on His throne.
4. The King's glory in His church.

May this serve to raise our hearts and minds to honor the King of Kings and Lord of Lord!

1. Stanley J. Grenz, David Gurtezki & Cherith Fee Nordling. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms. IVP. 1999. Page 55
2. J. Oliver Buswell. A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion - Volume 1. Zondervan. 1962. Page 164.

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