“The King Who Transforms” – Matthew 2:16-23 – Pastor Brian
The Christmas holiday brings many changes. Bright and cheery lights are everywhere, there is excitement amid the hustle and bustle of the season where family and friends gather. Christmas is meant to remember and celebrate God’s Son, Jesus, the ultimate transformer in life. This is what this message is about, Jesus, The King Who Transforms us.
We will look at two very different reactions to Jesus’ birth. First, from Herod the Great and then Joseph. We will see how their responses to Jesus have similarities to how He transforms your life and mine and ask, what does Jesus do that changes people? How does He do it? In other words, How does Jesus transform us?
Jesus transforms our lives by challenging our PRIDE. (vv.16-18) Jesus was revolutionary. He opposed the prideful emphasis on outward appearances while hearts were hypocritical and deceitful. Even those who were not religious noticed Jesus was counter-cultural. Jesus disagreed with those who viewed women and children as second-class citizens. Jesus elevated women and children as God’s creation, equally created, and just as valuable as men in the eyes of the Father. Jesus challenged any religion, culture or idea that promoted the pride of men above God.
Jesus is born in Bethlehem about six miles south of Jerusalem from where Herod rules. When Herod realizes after a few days that the Magi would not be returning with news about Jesus, he was furious and so full of rage he orders all male babies two years old and younger to be killed. The slaughter of these boys is outrageous but for the cruel and ruthless Herod it was not unusual. He was known to kill any family, friends, or leaders who he perceived as a threat to his kingdom. In fact, history does not even record this massacre, because on Herod’s scale of savageness, this act was minute. Herod did not like Jesus. Herod rejected Jesus because he viewed Him as a threat to his kingdom. Jesus challenged Herod’s pride. If Herod was no longer king, his luxurious life, status, and authority would disappear. Herod held onto these things so tightly, he did whatever it took to retain what he had. The power, prestige, and possessions were more valuable to him than people. Herod was challenged by Jesus because he wanted to maintain control over his life.
We are not kings or rulers in the same way as Herod but we may be similar in the way we hold too tightly onto the things of this world. Status, wealth, accomplishments, relationships, and even time can become our “kingdoms.” This kingdom of time affects us all. For some, it could even be one of the most difficult kingdoms to overcome.
Have you ever been tempted to skip church on Sunday because of your hectic schedule? You feel you deserve time for yourself, which is true, but spending time with God should also be a priority if not the most significant part of your life. God considers gathering together important. We are instructed in Hebrews 10:24-25, “to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Pride tells us that time is mine, forgetting that in reality, time is God’s. Jesus transforms us through challenging this pride to hold onto time, by instructing us to meet regularly together as a body of Christ. Gathering together to hear God’s Word and worship Him is necessary in developing your spiritual well-being.
Jesus transforms our lives by challenging our PATHS. (vv.19-23) Jesus will challenge your life’s direction if He wants something more for you. As a follower of Christ, Jesus desires your life to make a difference in this world. He is the King who transforms His people so that others will know the love of God. When we meet the challenge to submit our ways to His ways, our paths to His paths, Jesus truly becomes our King. Herod did whatever it took to secure his own kingdom and lifestyle. Herod followed a destructive path that brought death. Joseph, however, did whatever it took to secure the Kingdom of Jesus. Joseph listened to the voice of God. It was a path that led to life.
Despite the inconvenient and difficult journey to protect Jesus, Joseph obeyed God’s instructions by gathering his family, packing his belongings, leaving family and friends in Israel to flee to Egypt. Joseph was willing to do all that was necessary for Jesus’ sake. The same is for us. Though we may not become famous like Joseph, when we are willing to hear and obey God’s voice, Jesus the transforming King, makes our lives impactful, filled with eternal meaning and purpose and most importantly brings praise to God. He challenges our paths for the better when we listen and follow His voice.
Is Jesus challenging your life path? Whatever your circumstance, know this… Jesus loves His people and will challenge our paths to remind us that His ways are better than our ways. He confronts our pride through His Word. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear or carry one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse instructs us on how we might use our “kingdom of time” to build God’s kingdom through caring for others which will require a restructuring of how time is spent. Further, when our lives are transformed by Him, our paths may take a different route. When we sincerely seek to obey God’s greatest commandments our life will be changed. These commandments from Mark 12:29-31 tells us the first and foremost commandment is, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and the second is this “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus’ challenge to our PRIDE and PATHS include learning how to love God and our neighbors which means bearing one another’s burdens. When we truly love God, we can’t help but to love others.
Praise Songs: Come Thou Fount, Cornerstone, I Give You My Heart, Doxology
Children’s Message: Thank you Alice Oshiro for sharing from Matthew 2:13-16, how Joseph heard from God in a dream and obeyed by taking Jesus and Mary to Egypt, keeping them safe.