Christ Our Coming King

So this morning, my son is just about to explode with anticipation and excitement. Anybody else here in the room kind of feel that way? Maybe. Oh, okay. So we got those over, uh, 60 and, uh, those under six are feeling that way. Did I say 60? I meant 16. 16. Now, my son knows that tomorrow is Christmas day, but for him, it's also his birthday.

So it is a twofer. And I suppose it's appropriate that he's filled with both anticipation and excitement. Because six years ago, today, that was what his mother and I were feeling. I think she was also feeling some other things, but. We had spent months getting things together for his arrival. Preparing his room, going to doctor's appointments.

All while anxiously awaiting the day that he would arrive. And like many couples, Charlie came after a struggle of infertility for Tracy and I. He was long hoped for, prayed for, and at times the anticipation and longing for him was unbearable. Now, we're all here today, not because of my son, but because of a son.

The son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus, like my son Charlie, was long anticipated and hoped for. For centuries, the people of Israel had been waiting for their promised Messiah to come and save them. They were waiting for a king to come and set things right, to defeat their enemies and bring peace. And while my son's birth was a joyous occasion for our family, Jesus birth was a joyous occasion for the whole world.

By the time we get to the first century after centuries of the Jewish people waiting, the Jewish people were burdened by the weight of Roman occupation, and they clung all the more to the hope of a deliverer who would restore the nation to its former glory. But their longing extended far beyond political liberation.

It was also a longing for spiritual salvation. You see, the people of Israel were well aware that they had fallen short of God's perfect standard, and they were in need of forgiveness. The longed for Messiah was also a longed for Savior, who would not only rescue them from their physical enemies, but from their own sin and brokenness.

So they waited. And they waited. And then, in the most humble and unexpected way, they waited. A hope was born, the hope was born, in a small town called Bethlehem, in a stable, which is not a grand place, in fact, it's not even a stable in the way that you or I would think about it. The savior of the world made his entrance.

The gospel of Luke captures this profound moment with simplicity and beauty. In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus. The whole empire should be registered. The first registration took place while Cornelius was governing Syria, so everyone went to be registered each to his own town. Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth and Galilee to Judea to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David to be registered along with Mary who was engaged to him and was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then, she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped him tightly in cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them. I want you to pause for a moment and ponder that scene. The King of Kings, born in a setting so modest, so ordinary, that it could easily be overlooked.

But this was no ordinary birth. It was the fulfillment of a long held longing.

So many prayers, so many prayers. This moment was God's promise realized.

How many of us have waited? How many of us have waited only to find the longings of our heart fulfilled in unexpected ways? How many of us have been surprised by the goodness and faithfulness of God? This is who Jesus is. He is a king who defies our expectations, but he meets our deepest needs. Jesus birth wasn't marked by fanfare or royal decree, but by a star in the sky and the worship of shepherds, a symbol of how God's ways often defy our expectations.

Luke continues, he writes, In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the field and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Don't be afraid. For look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy, and it will be for all the people.

Today, in the city of David, a Savior was born for you. Who is the Messiah, the Lord.

The shepherds would not be the people you would expect to receive this message. They lived on the outskirts of town. They're smelly, they were lowly, they were humble,

but the shepherds ran. They ran to see the Savior, just as we are gathered here this morning to celebrate and honor his birth.

Luke says the shepherds returned. glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.

The shepherds were unlikely witnesses of the Christ child. For many of us, we might feel that way, that we are unlikely witnesses, and their response was to glorify and praise God. Jesus wasn't visited by kings or heads of state, but by ordinary people. Who had their hearts open for his message. The same message that still echoes through the ages and into our present reality.

Jesus is King. This humble beginning of Jesus's life sets the tone for the extraordinary journey he was to embark on. A journey that would lead to the cross, to a tomb, and ultimately to a glorious resurrection. This story of Jesus's birth resonates with us today because it speaks to our own experiences of anticipation and longing.

Just as the people of Israel yearn for their Messiah, we too in our own lives yearn for salvation, for hope, for something or someone to save us from our struggles and challenges. Life is hard. We don't need to sugarcoat it. The world can be a tough place to live in and we often find ourselves searching for relief from pain.

heartache and disappointment. And in our quiet, reflective moments, we realize that we are part of the problem. And we long to be different. We long to have someone who can help us to be different. Someone who will help us. Jesus,

the King of Kings, came to fulfill all these longings and bring us good news. His birth marked the first advent, the coming of the Savior to this broken world. He came as a humble infant, but with a powerful purpose to save us from our sins and make a way for us to be reconciled with God and a part of His reconciling and restoring ministry.

That's what it's ultimately all about. Jesus came for you. He came for you. Because you needed Him. He knows that in our sinful state, we have a broken relationship with God. A holy God can't ignore the sins of mankind. We're going to talk about sin. Don't worry, this isn't a Hellfire and Brimstone sermon.

Sin is a word that we toss around in church. But do we really understand its meaning? Romans 3, 23 tells us, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That means everyone. No exceptions. I have a lot of family here today and they can testify I'm a big sinner.

And sin is ultimately an act of rebellion against God. And every single one of us here has rebelled against God in some way. These ways are often small. And sometimes those are the most dangerous sins. They're seemingly insignificant. We just want to brush them away and not think about them. But all of our sin, no matter how big or how small, results in a gap between us and God that we can't bridge on our own.

We often try to justify our actions by comparing ourselves to others. Not as bad as that person. Or maybe we blame our circumstances. But the truth is, sin separates us from God always. It cuts off our relationship with Him and it prevents us from experiencing the fullness of life that He has for us.

Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly.

Think about your life. Can you recall a time when you knew the right thing to do, but you chose otherwise? Maybe you told a small lie, or you ignored a chance to help someone. That's all sin. It's more than breaking rules. Sin is breaking the heart of God. And yet, in the midst of this bleak picture, we find the most beautiful promise.

Jesus, our King, came not to condemn us, but to connect us back to God. The birth of Jesus, His first advent, was a doorway for a relationship with God, a pathway away from our sin and towards His glory. I want you to imagine your most cherished friend or family member. I want you to consider their love for you, the connection that you have with them, the joy that they bring into your life.

Now, magnify that affection a thousand, a billion times over, that's a mere glimpse of the relationship that God desires for each of us to have with Him. Each sin, each act of rebellion isn't just breaking a rule, it's akin to turning our back on this divine relationship, this unending love. That's the crazy thing about sin, we're rejecting the God who loves us.

Now, I don't want to dwell on sin to fill our hearts with guilt. But I want to talk about sin to awaken us to what we are missing. It's not about feeling bad for what we've done, but feeling the deep longing for what could be. A life lived in communion with our King. But here's the good news. Into this broken, sin filled world, Jesus came.

He didn't come to condemn us, He came to save us. John 3, 17 says, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,

Jesus is our bridge over the gap of sin. He connects us back to God, and Jesus does this by taking our place of punishment for sin. He offers us forgiveness in a clean slate, so we can enter into the presence of God unashamed and free. Jesus sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate act of love, Romans 5 declares.

But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. You don't earn God's love. He gives it to you. He gives it to you because He loves you. There is nothing you can do that would cause God to love you any less than He already loves you. I say that all the time, and I'm going to say that all the time until I die, because it's true.

You don't earn God's love. He gives it to you as an act of love. He didn't wait for us to become perfect. He died for us in our imperfect state. This is the heart of the gospel, the essence of Christmas. He did not reject you when you rejected Him. He pursued you. He came to you. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

God for us, for our good, for our good.

God sent His Son into the world not to judge us, but to save us through His love and sacrifice. I want to invite you to reflect for a moment.

Where do you see the need for Jesus in your life?

In what ways have you experienced the weight of sin, the brokenness of the world, and felt a longing for redemption, restoration?

Jesus stands ready to meet you in that place of need. He doesn't wait for us to clean up our act. He invites us to come as we are.

Embracing Jesus as our savior is the beginning of a transformative journey. It's not just about securing a ticket to heaven. It's about beginning a relationship with God that changes us from the inside out. Our relationship with Jesus doesn't just matter when we die. It matters in our everyday life. If you haven't experienced this life changing love of Jesus, I invite you to open your heart to him today.

He is waiting for you with open arms, not even waiting for you. He's pursuing you,

friends. Let's not leave here unchanged. Let's embrace the gift of Jesus, our savior, and let his love transform us. Let this Christmas be more than a celebration of traditions. Let it be a celebration of the life changing, transformative love of Christ, our Savior. In Jesus, we find grace. Grace means we don't have to be defined by our past mistakes or our sin.

We can be defined by His love and sacrifice. By His righteousness. And He doesn't just forgive us of our sins. That wouldn't be enough. It wouldn't be enough. It's everything, but it's not enough. He enables us to live in a new way. Gosh, so often I kick myself and wish that I could just do something different, that I would behave differently.

And it is through Jesus Christ that we can live differently, that we can love the way that He loves. To be grace givers and hope bringers in a world that desperately needs it. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, he says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, and see, the new has come.

In Christ, we are not just improved versions of ourselves, we are entirely new creations. In Jesus, we don't just have a Savior who wipes away our sins, but a Lord who guides, directs, and commands our lives.

You see? Accepting Jesus as our Lord isn't just about acknowledging Him as a Savior. It's about recognizing Him as the current, active ruler of our lives. It's about surrendering our will to His, letting His teachings and His example guide every decision we make. Too often, Christians miss that. We accept Him as our Savior, but we don't let Him be Lord of our lives, and we're missing out on all of the blessings that He has for us on the here and now.

Who's the Lord of your life? Philippians 2. It says this, it says, For this reason, God highly exalted Jesus and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

This scripture doesn't just speak of the past event or a future promise. It's a present reality. He is Lord. Will you let him be Lord of your life? Think about the areas of your life where you struggle to give control to God. Maybe it's in your finances, your relationships. We all have these areas where we want to say, Lord, I trust you, but

But true lordship means there are no buts. It means we trust Him completely in every aspect of our lives. When we surrender to Jesus as Lord, it's transformative. It changes how we interact with others, how we approach our work, and how we face challenges. It's not always easy. It's a decision that you have to make over and over again, every morning, every hour.

Lord, Jesus.

Not only is it not easy, it's often counter cultural. It means forgiving when it's hard, giving generously when it's easier to hold back, and choosing integrity when deceit seems simpler. But here's the beautiful thing. When we live under Jesus's Lordship, we're not just following rules. We're living in the freedom of God's perfect plan for our lives.

We're living in a way that brings peace, joy, and fulfillment. We're living in a way that reflects God's love to the world around us. The story of Jesus doesn't end at the cross or even at the resurrection. It matters for today, but also for the future. There's more to this grand narrative. A chapter yet to unfold.

A promise yet to be fulfilled. The Bible speaks of a future where Jesus returns, not as a humble baby, but as a triumphant king. Imagine that, our Savior returning in glory and majesty. That's what we're waiting for. That's what we're anticipating. When we read the Christmas story in Scripture, it reminds us that God is a God who keeps His promises.

It reminds us that the long hope for Messiah will come. And just like He came 2, 000 some years ago, He will come soon to establish His kingdom. Are you ready?

This, this is the hope that sustains us in difficult times. It is the assurance that no matter what happens in this world, there is a greater future awaiting us, when all of the brokenness is resolved, when redemption is complete, restoration is complete. In Revelations 19, we catch a glimpse of this awe inspiring event.

The Apostle Paul, uh, John writes, Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. It's writer is called Faithful and True, and with justice, he judges and makes war. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And he has a name written on his robe and on his thigh. King of kings and Lord of lords.

Our King Jesus, who once walked among us, taught us and sacrificed for us, will return to establish his kingdom once and for all. But this kingdom won't be like the ones we see in our world today. It won't be built on power struggles, corruption, or human agendas. Instead, it'll be a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy for all of eternity.

The Apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3, but based on his promise. Based on his promise, a promise that we have already seen God keep. In fact, when you look at scripture, you see over and over and over again that our God is faithful, that he keeps his promises. Peter tells us, but based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells.

All of the brokenness we deal with, it is temporary because our King is coming back for us. to make everything right. The return of Jesus isn't just a theological concept. It's a living hope that sustains us through life's trials and tribulations.

Perhaps you're here today and life feels overwhelming. Maybe you're battling illness. You're experiencing loss. You're facing uncertainty about the future. This is where the hope of Christ returned becomes real and tangible. It's not a distant and abstract idea. It's a promise that speaks into our present struggles.

Offers us a future of victory and restoration. When Jesus returns as king, he will set all things right. All our pain, our struggles, our unfulfilled longing, they will find their resolution in him. Isaiah writes, When he has swallowed up death once and for all, the Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face and remove his people's disgrace from the whole earth.

For the Lord has spoken. In uncertainties, we hold on to this truth. Jesus is coming back, and His coming isn't just an event to look forward to. It's a reality that shapes how we live today. It calls us to live with an eternal perspective, to set our hearts on things above, not on earthly things. So how do we live in light of this future hope?

Firstly, by living lives that honor Him. Our King is not just a ruler who will come in the future. He's our Lord right now. That means every decision, every action, and every thought should be aligned with His will and His ways. We don't do this on our power. We would, we do it by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.

And we do it by cultivating in ourselves, not a heart of fear of the consequences, but a heart of gratitude for who Jesus is and what He has done. We live out of reverence, out of love for our King.

Secondly, we live with an attitude of readiness and expectation. In Matthew 24, Jesus says, This is why you are also to be ready because the son of man is coming in an hour. You do not expect this readiness isn't about fear or anxiety. It's about living in a way that reflects our hope and trust in him.

Then we live with a mission. Our king has entrusted us with the task of sharing his love. And truth with the world, we're ambassadors of his kingdom. We're called to spread the message of hope and reconciliation. That's what this church is about. It's not what I'm about, it's what we're all about. We are a church, a people on the move, who are boldly proclaiming the message of hope and reconciliation in Jesus Christ, our King.

Friends, as we celebrate Christmas, Don't just remember the birth of our Savior, but also anticipate His glorious return. Let's live in light of this hope, letting it guide our steps, comfort our hearts, and inspire our actions. Let's be a people who are actively waiting, joyfully hoping, and faithfully serving until our King returns.

In the stillness of this moment, I want to extend an invitation.

For some of you, this might be the first time you've ever felt the pull of the Holy Spirit on your heart. You've heard the story of Jesus, His birth, His life, His sacrifice, the promise of His return. You felt a stirring, a longing for Jesus to be your Savior. And today, you can make the decision to open your heart to Jesus, to say yes to His love, yes to His forgiveness, yes to His transformative power in your life.

For others, you've made that decision before. Life happened, circumstances changed, and you drifted away. You feel the calling to rededicate your life, to renew your commitment to Jesus as your King. Today, you can choose to return, to come back to the arms of a Savior who never left your side, to experience the peace and joy of living under His Lordship once again, if that's you.

If you're saying yes to Jesus for the first time or the hundredth time, I want to invite you to pray with me, to welcome Jesus into your heart and accept the extraordinary gift of His love and grace. Not just on this Christmas Eve, but on every day of your life. Remember, in the kingdom of God, no one is too lost.

No one is too broken or too far gone. All are welcomed. All are loved. All are forgiven. Let's pray together and welcome the arrival of our King,

Heavenly Father. Today, I come before you recognizing my need for your grace. I acknowledge that I have sinned and fallen short of your glory. I have walked my own paths, turned away from your love, and pursued my plans over yours. But on this Christmas Eve, I open my heart to the greatest gift ever given, your Son, Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, I believe in you. I believe that you were born in a humble manger, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for my sins. I believe that you rose again, defeating death and offering me new life. I confess that you are my Savior and my Lord. I repent of my sins and ask for your forgiveness.

Wash me clean, Jesus, and make me new. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may live a life that honors you. Help me to turn from my old ways and walk in the newness of life that you offer. I surrender my life to you, Jesus. Be the King of my heart, the Lord of my life. Guide my steps, shake my thoughts, and use me for your glory.

I trust in your love, your grace, and your mercy. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. Thank you for the hope in the future you have secured for me. Today, I step into a new life with you. Help me to live each day for you, to grow in my faith, and to reflect your love to those around me. In Jesus name, I pray, amen.

Let's now participate in a long standing tradition, the lighting of the Christ candle. This is a symbol of the light of the world coming into our darkness, which is a visual reminder of the hope that we have in Jesus. So, we're going to get this room really dark. Don't worry, the emergency exit lights will still be showing.

Get your candles ready. I'm going to invite the Snyder family up to help extinguish all of these lights as we appreciate the darkness of the world without Christ. The darkness of our lives. And in a moment, I'm going to light the Christ candle, which will be a visual reminder of the hope that we have in Jesus, our King.

Can we dim the overhead lights, please? Let's set the screens to black. We're going dark.

As the light of this single candle pierces the darkness,

let it remind you of the one who has come. Remember the words of John in Scripture. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. As we pass this light from one to another, let it symbolize the spreading of his love and the hope of his promise.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Silent night, All is calm, All is so tender, Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace, Silent night, Twinkle, twinkle, Little star.

As we pass this light from one to another, let it symbolize the spreading of his love in the hope of his promise. Jesus says, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. As your candle is lit, let it be a beacon, a testament to the world of the transforming power of Jesus Christ in your life.

Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I'd like to invite you, if you've made the decision to follow Jesus for the first time or the hundredth time. If you've committed to allow Him to be Lord of your life, will you raise your candle up high?

Thank you.

On this day, we remember not only the birth of our King, but the first Advent. His sacrificial love in the present reality and the future hope we have through Him. May this light inspire us, may it comfort us, and may it remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. The arrival of Jesus, the King of Kings, the light of the world, our Savior and Redeemer.