Craig Groeschel - A King Like No Other
From my family to all of you and from our church staff to all of you, we wish you a very, very merry and Christ-filled Christmas. I wanna thank you for joining us today to worship our Savior, and I just need to tell you up front. This may be a little bit of an unusual Christmas message. Is that okay? Maybe? This may be a little bit of an unusual Christmas message, and the reason is because we serve a God that had an incredibly unusual way of showing his love for the world, a way that no one would have ever projected or predicted.
If you've been with us the last few weeks, we're in a message series called "The Gift", and we're looking at the three different gifts that the Wise Men gave to Jesus. You may not know the story, but when Jesus was born of a virgin, there were Wise Men or Magi, very wealthy, educated Gentiles that traveled a long way to come and to worship Jesus. You might think there were three of them because your grandma's Nativity scene shows three Wise Men. There were probably not three, we don't know how many. There might have been dozens. But they traveled a very long way to worship Jesus. They gave him very unusual gifts, and we've been looking at those gifts in Matthew chapter two.
I wanna show you our text which says this about the Wise Men. "When the Wise Men saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house, and they saw the child with his mother, Mary". And what do they do? In all of our churches, let's just say this together. What do the Wise Men do? The Wise Men bowed down, and what did they do, and they worshiped him. These magi, they bowed down before Jesus, and they worshiped him. And scripture says, "They opened their treasure chests, and they gave him some unusual gifts. They gave him gold, frankincense, and myrrh".
Over the last few weeks, we've been looking at both the practical application and the spiritual significance of these gifts. The frankincense, in week number one, we showed it represented Jesus as the High Priest, the representative of the people to God as the one who would give his life and the one who would sit at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for God's people, Jesus as High Priest. We also looked at myrrh, and that represents Jesus as the suffering servant or the Lamb of God. Today, I wanna look at the gift of gold. Throughout history, because of the scarcity and value of gold, this has been known as a gift fit for a king.
I wanna talk to you today about the Kingship of Christ, Jesus as King. Now, before we do that, I wonder, is there anybody in the mood to play a little game in church today, anybody wanna play a little game? Whoo! All right, what we're gonna do is I'm gonna show you some different images, and we're gonna play a game called Name That King. This is not fun without you. If you're not participating, you can't come back. You gotta have fun in church. So I'm gonna show you some different kings, and I want you to name that king. Let's go ahead and look at the first one. If you think of Simba, what king do you think of? You think of the... Lion King. Lion King, very good.
Let's do another one. If you think about a big gorilla, who you are thinking of? You're thinking of... King Kong. King Kong, excellent, let's do another one. If you think of a Whopper, a burger, you're gonna think of... Burger King. Burger King, "Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us". Okay, if you think of very scary novels, who do you think of, you think of... Stephen King. Stephen King. If you think of interviews, who do you think of? You're gonna think of... Larry King. Larry King, they're gonna get harder, so just work with me.
If you think of basketball, you're gonna think of? Who said Russell Westbrook? Who said, you're gonna think of LeBron King James. Sticking with the sports, this one's for my Boomers, my older people. If you're thinking of tennis, come on, Boomers. Who do you think of, you're gonna think of? Billie Jean King. Billie Jean King, very good. Let's change genres, and let's talk some music. If you're thinking blues, who do you have, you've got? B.B. King. B.B. King, excellent. If you're gonna think jazz, you've got, Nat, come on, King Cole. All four of you got it, very, very good. And if we're going to rap, baby, you've got Kanye, who declared it, and he's true, what do we know, that Jesus is King.
And I wanna talk to you today about the Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ as the magi gave him gold. We're gonna talk about a King like no other. Jesus is not just a person born on earth, but he is the King of kings, and he is the Lord of all lords. Today, we talk about Jesus as King. I wanna show you in the New Testament the Apostle Paul said to his protegee, Timothy, this is recorded in 1 Timothy 6:15. Paul said, "For at just the right time, Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords".
Now, when Paul said this in the Greek language, it was completely impossible for him to state this more powerfully. There's no way to say it with more emphasis. Jesus is the supreme authority over all of the kingdoms of the world. The entire cosmos is in the hands of King Jesus. He is a King like no other. I told you this might be a bit of an unusual Christmas message because our God had a very unusual and unexpected way to show his love in the world.
You see, people were expecting a Messiah, a Savior, a King to be born. The problem is that the Jews expected their king to be born certainly in a palace, surrounded by wealth and luxury and comfort. In our day and age, this king would be born and placed in a crib with purple lining. He'd be wearing his Gucci onesies. He'd have his baby Yeezys. This king would be looking seriously fly, he's dripping, he's got the sauce. Work with me, I got teenagers, I can go on and on if you want me to, okay.
No one expected the King to be born in poverty, in a cave next to farm animals. They didn't expect the Savior, the Messiah, to be the son of a carpenter born in Nazareth. Nathaniel asked the question, "Can anything good at all come from Nazareth"? No one predicted that the King of Glory, the Son of God, would befriend prostitutes, touch lepers, and love those that the religious institutions rejected. They never imagined a King who would choose uneducated fishermen and despised tax collectors and rebellious troublemakers to be his own disciples.
No one ever imagined that a King would forgive a woman caught in the very act of adultery when the law said she should be stoned, and yet, he would confront the hypocrisy of the Pharisees again and again, and overturned tables when people misused his temple as a place of personal profit. They never imagined the King of the Jews would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, of all creatures. And those who would be cheering for his arrival would be the outcasts, the overlooked, and even the immoral ones.
No one expected a King to stand trial for crimes that he did not commit. No one ever imagined that an innocent King would be beaten, whipped, scourged, stripped naked to hang on an instrument of torture known as a cross, dying a death that a criminal deserved to die. No one would ever have imagined this King hanging on a cross as the creator in the flesh, as the creation, the people, mocked him, spit on him, that this King, while he was suffering, would look up to heaven and pray for mercy for those who were torturing him when he said, "Father, please forgive them because they don't even know what they're doing".
When they offered him a drink to dull the pain, he rejected it, facing the full agony of the sin of the world. And he declared, "It's finished, I did what you sent me to do, Father. Into your hands, I commit my spirit". No one ever expected the King to die a shameful death in front of people mocking him. And when he breathed his last, there was no one predicting that the sky would go dark and the earth would shake and the world would lose hope as they buried a dead King in a borrowed grave. No one expected, three days later, when some women went to check on the tomb that the stone would be rolled away, you see. The body was not there. This King was risen from the dead and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
I wanna tell you about a King like no other. So an unusual Christmas message because it's an incredibly unusual way for God to show his love to a broken and sinful world. What's interesting to me is when you look at the story in the very first century, you see three very distinct responses to Jesus as King. Oddly enough, here we are, 2,000 years later, and you see the exact same very distinct responses to Jesus as King. In fact, I'm guessing if you have the courage to be honest enough, you might find yourself dead in the middle of one of these three very distinct, very common responses to Jesus as King. The first one is represented by King Herod.
If you know his story, Herod opposed Jesus as King. He wanted to guard and protect his kingship, so he issued a decree that all the boys under the age of two in Bethlehem would be put to death because he heard there might be a King who might threaten his kingdom. I don't know who this would be, but there might be those of you who would say, "No, no, I don't need religion. No, I don't need that kind of God stuff. I don't need that Jesus stuff. I'm doing fine on my own. I don't want anybody else to tell me what to do, I'm fine". You're opposing, whether you know it or not, you're opposing Jesus as King. "I'm gonna do life my way. Don't anybody tell me what to do. Don't let some outdated book, some religious principle, some stupid church tell me how to live, I got this. I'm opposing Jesus as King".
There was a second group, and I think this is profoundly common today, the Jewish priests, they didn't oppose Jesus, they just dismissed him as King. They dismissed him, they just kinda blew him off, which is so bizarre because these very Jewish priests, they actually quoted scripture, they quoted an Old Testament Bible verse from Micah 5:2 that prophesied that there would be a ruler from Bethlehem, and yet these priests were only five miles away, and they didn't show up to worship Jesus as King.
The same kind of thing happens all the time. Hey, do you wanna go to church with me and experience the presence of God, "Ah, nah". Would you like to read God's living word? You've got access to his powerful love letter that offers life, freedom, and hope. Would you like to read God's Word, "Nah". Hey, would you like to be a part of a mission sharing the love of God with the broken world, a spirit of generosity and grace, "Nah. Gotta get to Grandma's house, open up presents. Popcorn tin, I've got a popcorn tin. I've got a popcorn tin, selfie".
And the Jewish priest do what's so common today. They just dismiss Jesus as King. Then there were the Wise Men. The Wise Men bowed down and worshiped Jesus as King. The ultimate response to show reverence, awe, and honor to the God of heaven who became one of us in the person of Jesus, and they said, "It's not about me, my throne, my desires. With everything in me, I bow down, the most surrendered posture, to show you my reverence. You're my King, the King of the Universe". They bowed down, and they worshiped him.
So I'm just curious, and I ask this as sincerely as I know how. What's your response, like, for real? Don't need him? "I got this". You're opposing him. You might not call it that, but the way you live, that's kinda what you're doing. Or maybe, like more people around today, you just dismiss him. "Yeah, it's a good story, yeah, I'll get to that later. Yeah, I did that the church thing when I was a kid. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's good for some people, but eh", just dismiss him. Or is he the King of your heart, your life?
You see, with everything in me, I just really, really, really, really want you to know him. I want you to know him. I was the kid that grew up going to church. I knew about him, but I did not know him. I was a Methodist. We went to First United Methodist. The cool thing about First United Methodist is any town you went to, they had our church. There was always a First United Methodist Church, and so we'd just go to different ones. And there were some really good ones, and just, I just didn't, I just didn't open up in my heart.
We had this one pastor. I liked him because he was ornery. He'd kinda like get up into your business sometimes. And one time, we were at Christmas because we probably hadn't been since Easter, and he said, "Merry Christmas and Happy Easter". He said, "I'm saying this 'cause I won't see a lot of you again until Easter", and I thought that was funny, like, "Ah, that's us, good one", you know. And then he said, "A lot of you", he called us CEO Christians, C-E-O. He said, "You're Christmas and Easter Only Christians", like, oh yeah, that hurts, okay, gotcha.
And I remember thinking, "Yeah, that's kinda true, that's kinda what we are". I knew about him, but I didn't know him. There were times when I opposed him. "I got this, I don't need him. I'm doing it my way, I'm gonna have my fun, do my thing". There were more times when I just dismissed him. "Yeah, it's probably good for somebody, but not for me now". But no matter what, there was this aching in my soul, this longing for something more. And just to be honest, this real sense of guilt and shame that just wouldn't go away.
You see, I knew that I'd done so many things that were wrong, and so I'd try to be good, but the more I tried, the more I'd fail. So to me, church was just like religion and rules and ritual about some historic story. But something kept drawing me back, and to be honest with you, it wasn't just this, like, little baby born in a manger that grew up to be this nice, timid, weak guy that played with kids in his lap and petted lambs. No, no, no, let me tell you what it was. It was a King who stripped himself of the glory of heaven, born of a virgin in poverty in a cave, reaching out to the lowest of the low, those who were despised.
In our context today, those who just can't get it right, those who are financially a mess, those whose first marriage didn't work out, and now, they're in a bad place again. Those who use substances just to get up or to come down, try to find meaning in the wrong places, and going to bed longing for something more, and hurting and feeling empty. He came for people like that, and that kind of people's me. And he loved me right where I was, and forgave me not because I was good but because he was incredibly good, and I just really want you to know him. To be honest, ugh, a lot of you won't.
Back when I was in cemetery, excuse me. Back when I was at seminary, mess that up sometimes, back when I was in seminary, I had a professor who told me, he said, he warned me. He said, "Christmas is the toughest service to preach". He called it a pass-through service 'cause a lot of people come not because they want to, but because they're with family and they're in town, and they kinda gotta go. You know, if there's anything remotely close to you being, you know, like, remotely like there might be God, you've gotta go Christmas.
He called it a pass-through service 'cause everybody's passing through to go to Grandma's house, passing through to go to the next dinner, passing through to get yourself to the mall because it's too late to order on Amazon, and you put it all off, and you gotta get it done. It's a pass-through service. And so he said it's really tough to reach people 'cause they're just passing through. But I just pray, I just pray there's someone here that you don't just pass through, that if you've been opposing him or dismissing him, that maybe somehow, you would see the unusual love of God in a way that just commands, demands more from you.
Let me tell you about my King. He's not some distant, angry, uninvolved judge waiting for you to mess up. He's not the man upstairs. He's not the big guy in the sky. Jesus is not your homeboy. He's not your eight-pound, six-ounce newborn baby Jesus. He is the righteous King of kings, he is the Lord of all lords. In fact, I would love it today, at all of our churches, if you wouldn't mind, out of reverence for the King who became one of us and gave his life, would you stand to your feet? Take a moment to prepare your hearts to worship this King, to give him honor, to give him reverence for who he is.
Who is this King that gave his life for us? My King, according to scripture, is the King of Glory. He is the King of Righteousness, he is the King of the Ages, he is the King of all kings. Jesus, this King, heals the sick. He opens blind eyes, he heals deaf ears. He strengthens the weak, he delivers the captive, he restores those who are broken and hurting, he is the King. He is a shelter in your time of trouble. He is a light when your world is dark. He is the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the resurrection and life, he is our King. His goodness is indescribable.
His power is incomprehensible. His grace is irresistible. At his name, darkness trembles. In his presence, demons flee, Whoo! For the devil hated him. He could not stop Jesus. Death could not defeat him. Grave could not hold him. Jesus is that King, and I want you to know him. At all of our churches today, perhaps in some way, at this moment, at this time, something breaks through, and you don't want to oppose him. You can't dismiss him because you see him as who he is. If in your heart, you want to revere him, you want to honor him, I would encourage you to lift up your voice as you may lift your hand.
Can you give him glory, church? Lift up his name, give him praise today.
Our Father, we worship you as the true King, supreme ruler of the universe. Not just a King who reigns but a King full of love and grace. Not just one who came to rule, but one who came to die so we could live and be in a relationship with you.
As you pray today at all of our churches, nobody looking around, those of you that, you are Christians, and you might recognize, life just kinda happens sometimes, and we all get distracted. It happens to me, I know it happens to you, and you wanna be a little more Christ-centered, a lot more Christ-centered this Christmas and every day, would you lift up your hands right now, just all over the place, just all over the place?
I thank you for people that would say, "Yes, we wanna be all about you. You are our King, Jesus, we worship you". And I pray that we wouldn't just pass though, wouldn't take you for granted, but our hearts would be focused on you, worshiping you, showing you honor, and then showing your very love to everyone that we interact with. God, may we reflect your glory, your grace, your goodness, and your unconditional love.
As you keep praying today at all of our churches, there are those of you, you're gonna recognize this, that maybe in your life, you've just kind of dismissed Jesus. Maybe early on in life, you kind of believed him, kinda thought about him and such, but life got busy. You're dealing with grown-up problems and such, and you just kinda put him aside. Others of you, you're gonna recognize now, you've just said, "I don't need him, don't need that stuff". But there may be something today that's drawing you, and let me just tell you what that is. That is the love of God through his Holy Spirit, and it's very, very real. It's his grace, it's his goodness.
And some of you, you're not gonna pass through because you just can't. You need him, you need his forgiveness. You want his presence, and let me just promise you, he's here. What you're sensing, it's his goodness and love. We call it the Gospel, that means good news. What is the good news? As simple as I can explain it, as simply as I can share it, God loves you so much that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, born of a virgin, why does that matter? He didn't inherit the sin nature from an earthly father, but instead the divine nature from a Heavenly Father. He was all God, and he was all man, all at the same time, he's God in the flesh. He was perfect in every way. He honored God with a sinless life.
Therefore, he could be our innocent sacrifice. He shed his blood on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and the good news is that when he gave his life, he did not stay dead. Our God raised him from the dead so that anyone, and this includes you, who calls on the name that is above every name, the name of our High Priest, the name of our suffering servant, the name of our King that is above every King, his name is Jesus. When you call on his name, God hears your prayers. He forgives all of your sins, and he makes you brand new.
Many of you, that's the very reason that you're here today. You're not passing through, you can't deny it. You want him, you need his grace. At all of our churches, those who say, "Yes, I want his forgiveness, I need his mercy, I want his presence. I felt empty, I'm searching for something. He's what I'm searching for". When you call on him, he hears your prayers. You will not be the same, that's why you're here at all of our churches. Those who say, "Yes, Jesus, I need you. I turn from my sins, I turn toward you. By faith, I give you my life".
If that's your prayer, lift your hands high now, all over the place to say yes. Here in this section, and right up there, others today. Right back up there, my gosh, praise God for you. Right back over here, and over here, as well. Come on, church, somebody, would you celebrate the goodness of God with others today. Call on his name, Church Online. You click right below me, and as we have people at all of our churches calling on the grace of the one who is above all, would you just join your faith with those around you. Nobody prays alone.
Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. Jesus save me, be the Lord of my life, my King. Fill me with your Spirit, so I can follow you and worship you and show your love, because you've changed me. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for new life, now, you have mine. In Jesus's name I pray.