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The Politics of Christmas


[Adapted from a sermon preached during Advent in 2021, The Politics of Christmas]

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
"Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us."

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
"As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill."

I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, "You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2)

The coming of Jesus Christ was not merely a religious event, a spiritual event, a personal event, but a political event. Christmas is political. The coming of the Messiah into the world disrupted everybody's plans. We can see that with kings like Herod thrashing against the coming of the true king of Israel. We can see it with the Jewish leaders, who crucified the Lord. We can see it with the Roman Empire persecuting the first three centuries worth of Christians. But all of this hostility comes in response to the coming of the king at Christmas. The one whom the Lord set on his holy hill.

Autonomy, tyranny, self-rule and megalomania, it is all threatened by the coming of this Anointed one. Herod, The Sanhedrin, Pilate, Nero, Domitian, Diocletian, all are threatened by Christ and his Kingdom. And what about modern rulers? Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, - they stood against the LORD and against his Anointed. They were all threatened by his rule and persecuted the church. Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, leaders in Iran, Iraq, and all throughout the Muslim world – they too stand against the LORD and against his Anointed. They oppose the Kingdom of Christ. And even leaders and officials in western countries with a Christian heritage are now standing against the LORD and against his Anointed.

What do we make of this? Like our Lord, we should laugh. We should be light of heart, filled with hope. Why? Because the world may rage against Him, but he is king still. The rulers may try to legislate Him out of the picture, but he is king still.

Indeed, they can't get away from Him. Whether they like it or not they are marking His birth this week. Many do not celebrate the truth – but His name is still on their lips. Merry Christmas is a declaration of war. It is an announcement to the world that the real king has come.

The following week the whole world will make reference to this king yet again – in celebrating a New Year. The whole world will say goodbye to the Two Thousand and Twenty-Second year of Christ's Reign, and begin A.D. 2023. A.D. standing for Anno Domine, which is Latin, meaning In the year of our Lord. You see, you just can't escape this king.

The world will not win. The rulers, the peoples, the nations, the kings, will not win against the king of kings. He has come. God has set him on Zion, the holy hill. He has come. He has changed everything. The plans and purposes of God for this world are unassailable. The rule and reign of Christ the King is untouchable. He is the Lord of all Nations. He is the king of all kings. He is the Lord. And at the name of Lord Jesus – every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:10-11)

The Lord Jesus is the King today, enthroned at God's right hand. He is the Lord of history. He is bringing all things under His rule. And one day he will return and every enemy will be defeated forever, even that last enemy – death itself. So, Merry Christmas! 

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Wednesday, 24 April 2024