Church year date: 4th Sunday in Advent
Calendar date: 12/21/2014
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Texts: OT 2 Samuel 7 & Gospel Luke 1:26-38 (emph. 31-33)
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 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.”
Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
Intro: In our OT lesson King David had an idea. And from all outward appearances it seemed like a great idea. "Here I am," he said, "sitting in this wonderful palace of cedar, and the ark of the Covenant, the ark of God (His dwelling place) is still sitting out there in a tent. I'm going to build God a house. I'm going to build him a fine palace like this one I've got."
Now that doesn't seem like such a bad idea, does it? Even David's advisor, the prophet Nathan thought it sounded pretty good. "Go for it," he said. "I'm sure the Lord will certainly agree, that's a great idea!"
Well, Nathan wasn't quite speaking prophetically when he said that. He was just giving his own personal opinion. Because that night the Lord spoke to Nathan, and told him to tell David NOT to build him a house.
You see, God had a better idea. "David," he said, "Don't build ME a house. Let me build YOU a house. Let ME make YOUR name great. Let ME establish a place for my people to live in peace. Let ME build YOU a house, and a lineage, and a kingdom that will last forever.
David's reaction (not part of our text) was thanks, praise, and a prayer that what God said would be so.
In our Gospel lesson, we heard the message that God was going to work in Mary’s life as well, and her reaction to that message was similar to David's reaction. She said: "May it be to me according to your word." (Lk 1:38)
What's our reaction when we hear that God wants to do something for us?
-I know there are a lot of people, perhaps you, who expect me to get up here and say something like: "God has done so much for you; he's given you life, he's given you forgiveness, he's given you salvation...it's time for you to give something back in return.
You should worship God...more often. You should give more money when the offering plate comes around. You should be a better Christian in your daily life. It's the least you can do, considering what God has done for you.
-Yes, I know some people might expect me to say things like that. After all, that's what a preacher is supposed to do, right? He supposed to preach at you, and tell you how to live your life.
Well, I'm not going to do that. I don't believe that's not my job. My job is to tell you the GOOD news. The good news that God loves you and cares for you, and has a gift for you in Jesus Christ.
There we go again, talking about something that God wants to do for you, talking about his gift for you.
We're in the Christmas season. We've got a Christmas atmosphere going on around here, with the tree and the decorations, etc. And I imagine that many of you have exchanged gifts, or will exchange gifts with people that you know.
Have you ever had the embarrassing situation where somebody came up to you, handed you a lovely gift wrapped package saying "merry Christmas," and you didn't have anything to give back in return?
How embarrassing that must have been! I can just imagine telling that person "Wait right there, I'll be right back," then running home and frantically trying to find some knick knack to quickly wrap up and present to that thoughtful person.
Is that how we are with the gifts that God has given us? Are we embarrassed because we didn't get anything for him? "Oh, wait right there God, I'll be right back!"
Well, I'll guarantee you, whatever little trinket we run home and find to wrap up for God is not anything he wants, and it's certainly not anything he needs.
Ps 56:16 "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings."
Do you want to give God a gift that he really wants?
Psalm 56:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
Our willingness to present to God a present like that is our acknowledgement that, in and of ourselves, we are NOTHING. And coming to that realization hurts. It hurts my pride. It hurts my self-respect.
You see, I love myself. I have pride in myself. I want to hang on to my selfish sinful nature.
But God tells me in his word that that's no good. As Paul says in Rom 7: "I know that nothing good lives within me, that is, in my sinful nature."
Words like that rip me apart. They hurt. And as God literally tears the Old Adam away from me, that old sinful flesh that I love so much, I'm in pain. I've got nothing to give to God. I literally have nothing at all.
But God has something to give to me. As we heard in our OT lesson from last Sunday, Jesus Christ was anointed to preach good news to the poor. He was sent to bind up the brokenhearted.
The house that David wanted to build for God, which was eventually built by his son Solomon (with God's approval) was nothing compared to the house that God built for David, and which, in fact, he built for us.
It was a house that was NOT built by human hands. It was a house of human flesh and blood, created by God himself. God came to earth and lived in a human body. He became a human being. And his body was the temple of God.
This is the way God chose to work out his plan of salvation. In this way the kingdom of David was extended. God kept his promise that the throne of David would be established forever. The eternal God became a descendent of David, the heir to the throne.
Luke 1:31 32a
“He will be great,” the angel told Mary.
How great was he? What great thing did he do? Well, he died. He died for the sins of the entire world. Immanuel, God with us, became a man; a perfect, obedient man, without sin. And then he suffered death, the punishment for sin, as if he had committed EVERY sin.
That's a pretty great thing. As the Apostle Paul told the Romans: "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
But was that the end of the House God built for David? Was that the end of the house God built for us? Was that the end of the temple of God?
Remember Jesus’ words in John 2, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”? He was talking, of course, about the temple of human flesh and blood that God built, and in which He dwelt. He was talking about the temple of flesh and blood in which He still dwells.
Seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, he rules from the throne established by God over the kingdom that will last forever.
And it's the kingdom of which we are very much a part. We participate in this kingdom over which Christ rules, as we come here to worship him.
But guess what! We're right back where we started, because, so often, as we worship, we think we're doing something for God, paying him back, as it were, when in reality, worship is God doing something for us. Right now we're like David saying: "God, I've come to church today and I'd like to do something for you."
And God says: "I've got a better idea. Let ME do something for you. Let ME give you my word. Yes, you're a sinner. You daily sin much in thought, word, and deed. But for the sake of my son, your Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you ALL of your sins.
"Let me wash you clean in the waters of holy Baptism. Let me give you something to eat, the very body of blood of Jesus that hung on the cross, that strengthens and preserves you in the true faith unto life everlasting."
"Let me wipe the tears from your eyes. Let me bind up your broken heart. Let me love you with my love that will last forever, in my kingdom that will never end."
“Let me build YOU a house that will endure forever, a kingdom that will never end.” Amen.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.