Wednesday, December 27, 2017

An enduring kingdom with no bounds. . .

Sermon for Advent IVB, preached on Sunday, December 24, 2017, by the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich.

[The Lord said to David] “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.  Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:16).
    David looked around his house.  It was a sturdy house made of cedar, a house fit for a king.  Then he saw the tent that the ark of God dwelt in.  God was living in a tent.  David immediately understood the disconnect.  Why should he, a man who was once a shepherd boy, live in a greater house than the one true God?  With faith, David wanted to a house fit for Lord, but God wouldn’t allow it.  Instead He made a promise to David: to make his house even greater, to make his kingdom endure forever.  This promise God fulfilled in Christ, and you’re a part of that enduring kingdom. 
    When we think about kingdoms, we generally think in geographical terms; nations and states.  We think about borders and boundaries.  Images of walls pop into our heads.  But kingdoms aren’t necessarily geographical places on a map.  Borders and boundaries don’t define what a kingdom is.  Kingdoms are defined by the rule of a king.  A kingdom is the reign of a king, his authority.  The walls that separate nations only show where the authority of one king ends and another begins. 
    The enduring kingdom promised to David, that is, the kingdom of God, it isn’t a place.  It doesn’t have geographical borders.  The Lord’s kingdom isn’t limited to heaven’s pearly gates.  The kingdom of God is everywhere.  It’s where Christ the King is. 
    The promise that God made with David to make his house sure forever, to establish his throne forever (2 Sam 7:16) wasn’t a promise of an earthly kingdom.  God wasn’t guaranteeing an ever existing state of Israel with a Davidic king sitting on the throne.  No this promise was a repeating of the promise God gave to Abraham - to make him into a great nation and to bless all peoples through his Offspring (Gen 12).  And this was a repeat of the promise given to our 1st parents, Adam and Eve, that God would crush Satan through the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15).  All these promises were promises of the Messiah, the Savior who would free His people from the tyrannical kingdom of Satan, sin, and death.  Jesus is that Savior King, born of the line of David. 
When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he greeted here with the Lord’s favor and he clearly announced that she would give birth to the promised Son of David.  He said, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:31-33). 
Christ brings the kingdom of God.  He is the King who saves His people, not from earthly enemies, but from Satan, and sin. 
At the beginning of every baptism we’re reminded that all of us are conceived and born sinful and are under the power of the devil.  St. Paul says it like this, we’re slaves to sin (Rom 6:15-23), that is, we’re under sin’s authority and rule.  Satan and sin are our masters and king, and we obey them.  They rule our lives.  We give into his temptations and sin affects of our relationships. 
There’s nothing we can do to escape this kingdom.  We’re trapped under Satan and sin’s rule.  There’s no walls we can climb over or dig under to get away.  We’d be forever enslaved in this tyrannical kingdom if Christ our King hadn’t come to free us, to bring us into His kingdom. 
Christ has defeated the tyrants of Satan, sin, and death with His life, death, and resurrection.  Christ lived the perfectly righteous life that you and I can’t.  And this perfect life He sacrificed on the cross for you.  He willingly endured the death of your sin so that you’d be free from death, so that you’d be liberated from its kingdom.  Your king ransomed His life for your freedom and brings you into His kingdom. 
    You receive citizenship in the Lord’s kingdom through your baptism.  Through that water God brings you out of slavery to sin and death, He frees you from you satanic master.  God places His name upon you.  He marks you with Jesus’ cross.  Christ is your King and you receive all the benefits of His kingdom.
    You receive the forgiveness of your sin.  God absolves you of your guilt and He declares you innocent because your King paid the penalty of your sin. 
    You receive the righteousness of Christ.  It clothes all that you do as you live in His kingdom.  When you were in Satan and sin’s kingdom, you obeyed them.  You gave into their temptations.  But now you obey Christ.   
    You receive everlasting life and salvation.  In Satan’s kingdom there’s only death.  But in Christ’s kingdom there is only life.  He is the life.  His resurrection on Easter conquers all death and won everlasting life for His people.  This life and salvation He gives to you, and He promises you that all who believe in Him will live, even though they die.
    In Christ, God fulfills His promise to David.  Jesus is David’s son and He sits on the throne forever.  His kingdom is everlasting.  No one and nothing can bring an end to it.  Nations rise and fall, heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s kingdom will endure forever.  
    God’s kingdom isn’t a place.  It’s not marked by walls or borders.  You can’t find it on a map.  It’s found only in the reign of is Christ, and you’re part of it.  Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, you receive all the benefits of God’s kingdom.  This kingdom has no end, it endures forever, and nothing can take you from it.  Nothing can overcome it; for nothing can overcome your King, the Son of David, Jesus Christ our Lord.  In Jesus’ name...Amen. 

No comments: