Away in a Manger, 20 December 2020

Away in a Manger
Luke 2:16-20

Series Big Idea:
Carols are the soundtrack of the season as we celebrate Advent.

Big Idea: Baby Jesus in the manager is now LORD of lords, calling us to surrender.

Around 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Our Advent candle this week is
peace (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. It’s a little ironic that we lit the peace candle between our two angel songs that terrified the shepherds in their fields!

The Messiah has many names. In that one verse, Isaiah mentions several. What is your favorite name for God? Our Advent series is called
Carols and our song of the day, Away in a Manger, features one of the most important yet often ignored word…LORD.

There are countless images that depict the birth of the Messiah. In addition to paintings, we have three-dimensional models we call…
nativity scenes or…creches.

For as long as I can remember, our home has always had a nativity scene. It’s tradition for us to set up Mary, Joseph, the animals…and hide baby Jesus until Christmas morning. It’s part of the Advent celebration, the waiting for the coming, the arrival.

We’ve noted before how
many nativity scenes are historically inaccurate. After all, the wise men or Magi from the east arrived later, perhaps two years later! Matthew chapter two records that event. If you have a creche at home, you might want to move the wise men…to your backyard!

Side note: there are many myths about the Christmas story that are completely unbiblical…but that’s probably for another time!

Two weeks ago looked at the beginning of the second chapter of Luke’s gospel account of the life of Jesus the Messiah and the shepherds’ encounter with the angels. Verse sixteen continues…

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. (Luke 2:16)

Obviously the manger is featured in Away in a Manger.

Away in a manger no crib for a bed
The King of kings had no thousand-dollar stroller. He was not born in a hospital—modern or ancient. There was no mention of his birth in the Jerusalem Daily News. He was not placed in a $700 crib…but rather a manger…a food trough. How royal!

Nativity scenes often show the manger as a wooden vessel with straw, but first-century mangers may have looked like
this (cement). I took this picture in Israel. Would you put your baby—or grandbaby—in that? I suppose if you had no other choice, you would.
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head
Obviously Jesus was little…and apparently His head was sweet! How can you argue with that?
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay
That’s a beautiful image, isn’t it? Stars shining down upon a baby sleeping on a pile of hay.
Away in a Manger was published in the late nineteenth century. For years people thought it was the work of Martin Luther, it is now believed to be an American song with music written by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895) and James Ramsey Murray (1887).
In 1945, Richard Hill suggested Away in a Manger might have originated in "a little play for children to act or a story about Luther celebrating Christmas with his children," likely connected with the 400th anniversary of the reformer's birth in 1883. This might explain why it was called Luther’s Cradle Song.
The cattle are lowing the Baby awakes
Quick quiz: lowing means
  1. a. The position of the cattle’s head
  2. b. Another term for grazing
  3. c. A sound cattle make
The correct answer is C. But the Bible says nothing about cattle! I’m not sure it says anything about animals other than animals ate from mangers…and shepherds tended sheep. Maybe cows were present. Maybe not. According to the song, the cattle make a noise, wake up the baby…
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes
This is the line I question. It’s a quaint notion, but most babies cry when they are suddenly woken. But I wasn’t there! If the point is Jesus never cried, it’s blatantly false. He was fully human and babies cry!
There is a heresy called Docetism which states Jesus was God but not human. I can’t explain it, but
Jesus is fully human and fully God. Last week we noted John 1:14…
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Jesus being human is vital for several reasons. First, his death and resurrection would certainly be questioned if he wasn’t human. Second, his perfect example of what it means to be human would be lost. Furthermore, his humanity allows him to understand what it’s like to be sick, tired, tempted, angry, and joyful.
Speaking of Jesus, the book of Hebrews declares,
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
This is wonderful news. Not only is God with us, Emmanuel, but He understands all of the dynamics of life on earth. He’s been here! He’s faced all of the challenges we face.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
What a beautiful promise! We can have a relationship with God. We can pour out our hearts in prayer. We can be real with God.
We are to respect God, but we don’t need to be overly formal. Religion often keeps God at a distance, requiring special places, words, or rituals in order to get His attention.
He’s right here. He’s with us. He’s not out to get you. He’s not sleeping. He knows life is hard. He grieves when we grieve. He shares our joys and sorrows. He loves you. He proved it by dying for you! How are we to respond?

I love Thee Lord Jesus look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle 'til morning is nigh

We love Him because He first loved us.

It didn’t take the shepherds long to love Jesus. They were the first evangelists, proclaimers of good news.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:17-18)

There are so many dimensions to the Christmas story. We’ve mentioned the manger. There was Joseph. Jesus. The angels. The shepherds. Those who heard about the birth from the shepherds. And, of course, Jesus’ mother.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

We looked at Mary’s tragic and triumphant life two years ago during Advent. She experienced the joy of bringing the Messiah into the world, but she endured shame as an unwed mom, gave birth in an inadequate place, would watch the horror of her son’s death, and after he rose from the dead, departing earth weeks later. This was a moment she would treasure, though, as she held God with skin on in her arms.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20)

We have followed this pattern ever since. We gather to glorify and praise God. We worship with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He deserves it. He is worthy!
Be near me Lord Jesus I ask Thee to stay Close by me forever and love me I pray Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there
Jesus is called “lord” more than 700 times in the New Testament (though I didn’t actually count!)! The Greek word for Lord is kurios, meaning supreme in authority, controller, Master, God. It is not a casual or passive term, but one demanding devotion.

Jesus is not only Savior, but also Lord.

We have a problem with Lord. As I’ve often said, there are vampire Christians who only want Jesus for his blood. They want to use Jesus as Savior, grateful for the cross and the get-out-of-hell-free card they imagine obtaining, but they aren’t followers of Jesus. They may give him an hour on Sunday, but the rest of the week is theirs to live however they feel…whatever makes them happy. After all, we’re Americans and we have the right to do whatever we want so long as we don’t hurt anyone, right?

Not if you have Lord.

You follow a Lord.
You obey a Lord.
You submit to a Lord.

If every Christian truly made Jesus Lord, the Church would look so different. The world would look so different!

You may recall the angel declared Jesus is Lord to the shepherds.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

It’s not enough to call Jesus your Lord. Jesus said,

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

My favorite scripture in the Bible says,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

All your heart. All your ways. Do you trust the LORD? Can you prove it? God can be trusted. He’s not a control freak demanding your obedience, but a loving Father who knows what’s best for us, even when we sometimes don’t understand at the moment what He’s doing. Most of us trust God in some areas. He is lord in certain “rooms” of our house, so to speak. But usually we don’t trust God in the areas in which we do not know Him, the rooms in which we’ve never let Him in. We think we’ll trust God after He proves to be trustworthy, but we really need to reverse it. He is trustworthy. He does know best. He is at work in the universe and He wants a relationship with you. But first you must let go. You must surrender. That can be scary, especially for those of you who have had trauma and trust issues with humans. But I promise you, Jesus can be trusted. The consequences of making Jesus Lord are not only immediate, but also eternal.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Those are sobering words, and they were spoken by Lord Jesus. Calling Jesus Lord does not make Jesus Lord.

So What?

Jesus may be your friend.
Jesus may be your Savior.
Is Jesus your Lord?

We don’t make Jesus Lord. He is. We choose to surrender to His control…or not.

Where have you not fully surrendered to the Lord Jesus?
What’s holding you back?
What next steps do you need to take to more fully surrender to Christ?

When you surrender your life, you discover your life (Matthew 10:39).


Away in a Manger is a classic Christmas carol. It draws our attention to a little baby asleep on the hay, but that baby didn’t stay in the manger. He grew, taught, healed, modeled for us what it means to be human, forgave sins, died a brutal death, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and he’s coming back. Advent is about celebrating his first visit to our planet…and awaiting his second coming soon. He will rule and reign forever and ever. He is the King of kings. He is the LORD of lords.

As we sing this song today—and as you hear it throughout the season—I encourage you to focus on Lord Jesus…and make him your Lord.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Jesus is LORD, 1 September 2019

Jesus Is LORD
Series—A Love Supreme
Colossians 1:9-23

Series Big Idea:
Christ is above all others. This is a study on the book of Colossians.

Big Idea:
The Messiah is above all, and that has huge implications for our lives if he is not only Savior but also LORD.

How many of you like
music? How many of you like jazz?

Our world is filled with opinions about the greatest rock band, the best gospel singer, the finest classical composer, and the most talented rapper, but when it comes to jazz, most people seem to agree on two things:

1. The greatest jazz album of all-time is Miles Davis’
Some Kind of Blue.
2. The second great jazz album of all-time is John Coltrane’s
A Love Supreme.

Today we begin a new series on Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, a small city in modern-day Turkey. Unlike nearby Laodicea and Hierapolis, Colossae has never been excavated, though plans are in the works. The theme of the book is the supremacy of Christ, but since that seemed a bit foreign to our modern lexicon, I’ve chosen to entitle this series
A Love Supreme. It’s not about jazz, but about Jesus, the definition of love. He is supreme. His love is supreme. His lordship is supreme. As we noted in our last series, the gospel is Jesus. The good news is that Jesus is LORD. He will be our subject throughout our study this month in the book of Colossians. Jesus is supreme!

A few weeks ago we looked at the radical conversion of Saul. Because of his calling to the Gentiles, he went by the name of Paul and, as prophesied, suffered for his faith in Jesus. He wrote four prison epistles—or letters: Ephesians, Philemon, Philippians, and Colossians. This letter was written while under house arrest in Rome in AD 61. Paul begins his letter to this church with eight verses of introduction and then he continues…

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. (Colossians 1:9a)

This is a beautiful statement. The “reason” is their faith in Christ and love for all God’s people. The “we” here is Paul and Timothy. They have not stopped praying for the Christians in Colossae.

Who are you continually praying for? Some of you have told me you pray for me weekly, or even daily. I’m so grateful. I can’t imagine where I would be—
who I would be—without prayer.

In the Christian & Missionary Alliance, we believe
prayer is the primary work of God’s people. It is powerful and effective. It’s not talking to the wall, but rather communicating with the Creator of the universe! We’ve seen God answer countless prayers…and He’s not going to stop now!

We can’t stop now, either. We need to pray for our church family, for our neighbors, our city, nation, and world.

Have you ever wondered
what to pray?

“LORD, I pray for everyone in the whole world to be blessed today!” That’s a nice prayer, but if you want to be just a bit more specific, Paul’s example is helpful.

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9b-12)

What a great list! When we pray for others, we can ask God to grant them

  • - Knowledge of His will (we often learn by doing, by obeying; deed and knowledge)
  • - Wisdom and understanding
  • - Fruit in every good work
  • - Growth in the knowledge of God
  • - Strength
  • - Endurance
  • - Patience

Would you pray that for me? Would you pray that for our elders and staff? Would you pray that for First Alliance Church. This isn’t my church. It’s not our church. We are God’s church. We are fully dependent upon His power, His grace, His favor.

I want to remind you we have three weekly prayer gatherings here—Sundays at 9 AM, Thursdays at 7 PM, and a wonderful men’s group on Tuesdays at 8:30 AM.

I can’t imagine where we would be without prayer!

The heart of Paul’s prayer is that the lifestyle of the people. He was concerned about their theology, of course, but he specifically prays that they would live lives worthy of the LORD. He prays that they would bear fruit. Likewise,

Our lives should bear fruit.

Notice this doesn’t happen because we try hard, but rather because of prayer, because of God’s power, because of Jesus. He is the one who said famously,

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

What kind of fruit do we bear when we are connected to the vine of Jesus? The fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Do we produce this fruit? Do we earn it, strive for it, work for it, make it happen? No! We surrender and submit to the Lordship of Christ. We let him lead our lives. We confess our sins, repent and turn away from them, and invite the Holy Spirit to fill us, change us, transform us to become more like Jesus. This is why prayer is so critical. It’s a daily thing. It’s an hourly thing. It’s a moment-by-moment thing.

Paul ends verse twelve by saying they give joyful thanks to God…

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Have you ever been rescued? We’ve all heard of people being rescued at sea, after being trapped in a cave, or after a natural disaster. I can’t recall ever being in such a situation, but I imagine it’s incredible. We’ve been rescued from darkness into His glorious light. He have redemption. We have forgiveness. We have freedom!

Now Paul begins to describe Jesus.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16)

You were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory.

These verses declare that all things were created through Jesus and for Jesus. He is the image—or literally
icon—of the invisible God. He makes God visible! Jesus told Philip that when you’ve seen him, you’ve seen the Father (John 14:9).

He had no beginning, for he is the Creator! He has all authority and rights over His creation.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:17-18)

Jesus is

He is above all things. He is before all things. He holds together all things. He’s the head of the church. He is our Senior Pastor. He is the beginning. He is the firstborn among the dead. He’s the LORD of lords and the King of kings. Jesus is supreme!

Is it any wonder this passage may have contained remnants of an early Christian hymn?

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

All of the fullness of God dwells—permanently lives—in Jesus. Then Jesus died to reconcile us to God. He created, and then after we sinned He re-created, He redeemed, He reconciled sinners who repent, making peace, wholeness, completeness.

Someone recently asked me why I talk so much about Jesus instead of God. It was a terrific question! I explained Jesus is God. We worship one God who is in three Persons. We call this the Trinity. It’s a word not found in the Bible, but the idea behind it is present throughout scripture. God the Father, God the Son—Jesus—and God the Holy Spirit. They are all God, yet they are different Persons.

Many have tried to explain the Trinity with analogies, which might be the best thing we can do to attempt to understand God. After all, He’s God! He doesn’t fit in a neat box.

An egg has three parts: shell, yolk, white. They are all egg, three-in-one.

Another common illustration is a clover. Each leaf is 100% clover, yet each is unique.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Throughout church history, some have recognized Jesus as God but not human. This is called the heresy of Docetism. They believed Jesus only appeared to have a body but did not actually suffer on the cross or rise from the dead.

Some recognized Jesus as created by God the Father but not himself God. This is called the heresy of Arianism.

What we see in these two verses is that the fullness of God dwells in Jesus. He is fully God. The Father sent the Son, Jesus, to earth to die, to shed his blood on the cross, to reconcile all things to himself. That includes us, hallelujah! Our sin separated us from the holy God, yet Jesus died to reconcile us to the Father, and only Jesus could do that because Jesus is the only human to walk this earth who is also fully God.

This is such good news, friends!

Jesus reconciled us to God by his death.

Paul further explains…

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Colossians 1:21-23)

If Jesus never actually died—as some believe—we are hopeless. We cannot be reconciled. We remain alienated from God because of our sin. But there is plenty of evidence not only that Jesus died, but also that he rose from the dead and is alive today.

Jesus is not only our Savior, but also

The gospel is not just that Jesus died, but that Jesus is LORD. He is above all. He is supreme.

I’ve often spoken of vampire Christians who only want Jesus for his blood. They want a Savior, but not a LORD.

They want to be saved, but they don’t want to serve.
They want to be forgiven, but they don’t want to follow.
They want to go to heaven when they die, but they don’t want to live for Jesus now.

True faith will lead to faithfulness over time. We will grow. We will mature. We will look and act more like Jesus. We will love God and love others as ourselves. We will experience real peace, true joy, abundant love, and deep contentment. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

How can we not sing?
How can we not praise?
How can we not rejoice?
How can we not celebrate?

We have a love supreme!

Credits: series outline from D6.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Gift of Jesus, 24 December 2017

    The Gift of Jesus
    Series—The Gifts of Christmas
    Luke 2:1-11

    Big Idea: The greatest gift in human history was Jesus Christ.

    Skit Guys Video


    Christy, I bought you a gift. I hope you like fruitcake! Merry Christmas!

    Who loves Christmas cookies? I’m sorry, I don’t have any to throw out this morning, but I sure love them better than fruitcake! I’ve rarely met a cookie I didn’t like. I love sugar cookies, shortbread, …yes, I love buckeyes…but to clarify, I love to EAT buckeyes! My favorite cookie is gingerbread. I LOVE gingerbread!

    Have you ever eaten cookie dough?

    Have you ever made chocolate chip cookies and then poured the final chips from the bag into your mouth?

    Have you ever poured the extra flour from the bag into your mouth? Of course not! But the flour and baking powder are essential. Skipping that tiny teaspoon of baking powder can destroy a batch of cookies.

    History is filled with tiny things making a huge impact on our world. As Christy said in the drama, “Big things can come from really little places.” Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow—and today—came from a “little town” of Bethlehem two thousand years ago. The greatest gift came from the smallest place.

    What are some of your favorite Christmas gifts? What are some of your least favorite Christmas gifts? That list might be more interesting!

    One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the white elephant gift exchange. I’ve received some very interesting gifts at those parties! I think we can all agree there are some gifts we really don’t want!

    During this Advent season of arrival, of waiting, we have looked at the gifts of expectancy, grace, reconciliation, and adoption. None of those can be wrapped or shoved into a gift bag, but those who choose to receive those gifts experience things far greater than an iPhone which will be obsolete in a few years or a sweater which will be eventually sent to Goodwill.

    Today we conclude our series,
    The Gifts of Christmas. It has been my experience that there is no greater gift than the gift of Jesus. But like all gifts, you must choose to receive it or not.

    The Christmas Story

    Most of us have heard the Christmas story read by a friend, family member, someone at church, or even Linus on A Charlie Brown Christmas. A doctor named Luke wrote a biography of Jesus and our text for today comes from the gospel—or good news—of Luke.

    In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. (Luke 2:1-3)

    The scene is the Roman empire about two thousand years ago. Transportation was difficult, yet required by the government.

    So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. (Luke 2:4-5)

    Joe and Mary travel about eighty miles to this little town of Bethlehem. The timing of the census was terrible as Mary was eight or nine months pregnant, although it is possible they were in Bethlehem for some time before the birth, as stated in the next verse.

    While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:6-7)

    That nativity set you may have in your home might not be 100% accurate, though the same can be said for many things regarding our understanding of the Christmas story. I like the biblical account as it is ancient, tested, and trusted around the world. Most likely Bethlehem was filled with travelers and with no guest room available, they slept with the animals in the downstairs of a home. Tim Chaffey writes,

    Archaeologists have excavated first century homes from the Judean hill country. They have discovered that the upper level served as a guest chamber while the lower level served as the living and dining rooms. Oftentimes, the more vulnerable animals would be brought in at night to protect them from the cold and theft. This sounds strange to many of us, since we wouldn't dream of bringing some of our cattle into the house at night, but even today in some countries of Europe (e.g., Germany and Austria), the farmhouse and the animal quarters are often different parts of the same building.

    There was no inn, no innkeeper, no stable…they were probably staying with family in an overcrowded house.

    And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:8)

    What a scene! There are scholars who believe these weren’t just any shepherds, but rather Levitical shepherds tending to animals which would be used for Passover sacrifices in the Jewish rituals. These were special lambs who had to be without defect, creatures given great care, even swaddled by their shepherd in order to be acceptable in the temple as a payment for the sins of the owner. What an image for Luke to highlight while telling the story of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who would be in swaddling cloths. These shepherds were in for a big surprise!

    An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:9-11)

    There are so many ancient prophesies fulfilled in these eleven verses. I wish we had time to explore them, but suffice it to say this was no ordinary baby and no ordinary birth, though the event occurred among ordinary people in a small, ordinary town.

    The prophet Micah wrote about 700 years before the birth of Jesus these words:

    “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

    There is so much solid evidence for faith in Jesus, including dozens of Old Testament prophesies uniquely fulfilled in Christ hundreds of years later. This is one. You can’t choose where you’re born, but Jesus’ birthplace was prophesied. O little town of Bethlehem! Big things can come from really little places.

    Boaz, Barley, and Jesus

    Jesus came from a little town that means “house of bread” as Christy mentioned in the drama. There are more than 5000 biblical references to baking bread…from unleavened bread during the Exodus to Jesus breaking bread and saying to His friends, “This is my body.” Ezekiel Bread can be found in grocery stores nationwide, a unique recipe found in the Bible.

    One of the most fascinating stories in the Bible involves two women, Ruth and Naomi, distance ancestors of Jesus.

    Naomi’s husband dies, her sons had died, and she is alone with her two daughters in-law. She urges them to find new husbands. One does but Ruth stays with her mother in-law, Naomi. They travel to Bethlehem…1000 years before Jesus is born.

    At the time, if you owned a field, you were not allowed to harvest the corners of it, instead making it available to the poor and hungry. One day Ruth “gleans” from the field of Boaz, gathering ingredients to make bread. Boaz sees her, likes her, gives her more food, and eventually Boaz marries her. Ruth goes to Bethlehem and finds not only the gift of bread but the gift of a bread winner. Ruth and Boaz have a son named Obed, a blessing to not only them but also grandma Naomi. She was overjoyed at the gift.

    The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” (Ruth 4:14-15)

    Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him.  Ruth 4:16
    The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:16-17)

    Ruth was King David’s great-grandmother and Naomi was his great, great-grandmother! The little town of Bethlehem became known as the City of David, and centuries later that label will be used by angel’s announcement to the shepherds.

    Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

    A Kinsman-Redeemer of all people was arriving in Bethlehem. Jesus came to rescue and redeem humanity in the same town where Boaz had redeemed His ancestor Ruth. If you’ve ever read through the Bible, you know there are some genealogies that can be extremely boring, but this one is quite fascinating:

    Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. 

    David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, (Matthew 1:5-6)

    Two of Jesus’ ancestors met during the barley harvest and a part in the ongoing gift-giving which would lead to the birth of Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:35).

    So What?

    We can talk all day long about big things coming from really little places. We can read the Christmas story of the birth of the Messiah. We can sing songs, exchange gifts, and eat cookies, but what difference does Jesus make two thousand years later? Jesus is the greatest gift. The story doesn’t end with a baby in a manger. Sweet baby Jesus would grow up, teach with wisdom which amazed the most brilliant minds of His day, perform countless miracles, willingly surrender His own life on a cross for the sake of every man, woman and child who follows Him, rise from the dead, ascend to heaven, and promise to return.

    Jesus is the greatest gift. He came as Emmanuel, God with us. He came to our world to be with us, to relate to us, to love us, to show us what it means to truly be human. And He’s coming back for all who receive the gift, who receive Him, who follow Him.

    Jesus is the greatest thing in my life. He has given me life—bountiful life! I live every day knowing my sins are forgiven which gives me peace. I know He is returning someday to our broken world which gives me hope. He is present here and now by the Holy Spirit living inside of me which gives me great joy. I’ve experience meaning and purpose for life, surrendering to the Creator God who knows me and still loves me.

    And all of this can be true for you, too. There’s nothing special about me. I just said, “Yes” to the gift. And you can, too. The most famous verse in the Bible says

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

    That’s a promise of eternity with God after you die, but also the promise of His presence and power and peace in this life, here and now. It’s not about religion or even being good. It’s simply about welcoming Jesus into your heart, your life, your world and inviting Him to lead and guide Your life. It’s about a relationship with Almighty God, a journey in which you can actually know your Creator, be adopted into a faith family of love, receive a fresh start in life, conquer your fears, and truly experience joy. If Jesus is not the main ingredient in your life, you’re missing out on the greatest ingredient, the greatest gift. I urge you to receive the gift, the gift of Jesus. Let Him lead and guide you and who you through His Word, the Bible, real wisdom, life, and joy.

    One of my favorite songs of the season is “Joy to the World.” One of the lines says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Is there room in your heart for Jesus? He’s the main ingredient in my life and He can do incredible things with yours if you let Him in, if you receive the greatest gift this Christmas, the gift of Jesus.

    Credits: title, drama, and some ideas from The Skit Guys.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

  • Demanding, 20 March 2016

    Palm Sunday
    John 12:12-19

    Big Idea: Do we make demands of Jesus or allow Him to truly be LORD and King?

    The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


    “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

    “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)

    The people blessed Jesus. They blessed the king of Israel. But there was another word they shouted…


    This word has several translations.

    Save us.
    Please save us.
    Save us now!

    These people were desperate. Rome was a vicious, violent place.

    Although it was built after Jesus walked the earth, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built, the place where many Christians were martyred in front of screaming fans.

    Time does not permit us to unpack the full context of Roman life at the time of Jesus, but it was oppressive, especially for the Jews.

    Here’s the thing: the people had an agenda for Jesus. They wanted Him to overthrow the government. They wanted Him to save them from Rome. We’re not exactly sure the tone of their voices, but rather than joyful shouts, they were very possibly desperate and demanding shouts.

    Save us now!

    We celebrate Palm Sunday as the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem. We know He arrived not on a white horse but a modest colt.

    Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

    “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12:14-15)

    Needless to say, Jesus did not meet the demands of the crowd. He did not meet the demands of His own disciples.

    At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. (John 12:16)

    Can you blame them? Days after the crowds shout, “Hosanna!” crowds—not necessarily the same people—yell, “Crucify Him!”

    All who followed Jesus—including the eleven and His mother—watched all of their hopes and dreams destroyed as He was nailed to a cross.

    But that’s for Friday!

    One More Thing

    There’s another biblical account involving palm branches and loud multitudes.

    After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

    “Salvation belongs to our God,
    who sits on the throne,
    and to the Lamb.”

    All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

    Praise and glory
    and wisdom and thanks and honor
    and power and strength
    be to our God for ever and ever.
    Amen!” (Revelation 7:9-12)

    Today we close with worship. We sing praises to Jesus for He alone is worthy. He alone is King. And someday soon He will return not on a donkey but on a white horse. He will arrive not to die but to rule forever and ever. We will not shout, “Save us, now” but, “Thank You, Jesus!” And we prepare for eternity now as we declare Jesus as LORD.

    You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

    Kingdom: Joseph, 14 September 2014

    Big Idea: God challenges us to represent Him in His Kingdom as we make Him LORD and King.


    Last week we said the Bible is a big book. It’s actually a library of 66 books. We usually study it verse-by-verse, like looking through a microscope. This series will look at it through a telescope, examining the big idea of the Bible.

    Our new series this fall is called Covenant & Kingdom. It is based upon ideas from Mike Breen and 3DMovements, a ministry that has been quite influential in the life of Scio in recent days. The book, Covenant & Kingdom, is available through Amazon or from I encourage you to get a copy and read ahead as we look at the big picture of the Bible.

    Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a double helix is woven in DNA.

    Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

    God made a covenant with Abram, promising blessings to him and his offspring in order for them to bless the world.

    Covenant is about relationship. Being.

    Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing.

    Life is filled with tension between being and doing, relationship and responsibility, being invited into relationship with God while also being challenged to represent Him and bless the world.

    Invitation and challenge.

    As we look at this idea of challenge, of kingdom, of doing God’s work in the world we are going to look at one of the most important characters in the Bible—Joseph.


    Abraham has a son named Isaac who has a son named Jacob who has twelve sons, the eleventh being his favorite son, Joseph.

    The story of Joseph begins in
    Genesis 37

    Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. (Genesis 37:2b)

    Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (Genesis 37:3-4)

    Do you have siblings? Do you have sibling rivalry? Imagine your younger sibling was given three desserts at dinner, triple allowance, and the new iPhone the day it is released? To your parents you would probable say, “It’s not…fair!” You would likely become envious of your sib and despise them.

    Joseph had eleven brothers who were sick of him. He was a gifted, handsome, arrogant teenager who believed he was the center of the universe. That alone is recipe for disaster! Then his dad gives him a special coat with long sleeves, a sign of the supervisor’s role!

    Next Joseph has two dreams (37:5-10), one in which the grain of his brothers bowed to his, the other in which the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed to him. Joseph is not only the center of his universe, his dreams confirm it!

    Jacob sends Joseph to his brothers who are grazing the flocks. They plot to kill him, but Reuben insists they throw him into a cistern instead. The brothers strip him of his robe, throw him into the empty well, and sold him to Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt where he was sold to “Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard” (37:36).

    The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. (39:2)

    His life had gone from wonderful to dreadful and now things are looking up. It says two things: the LORD was with Joseph and he prospered. What changed? Perhaps Joseph was broken by his rejection by his brothers. He almost certainly cried out to God for help. I’m sure he was a bit confused by his fortunes when he goes from elaborate dreams to being thrown into an empty well. Instead of his brothers bowing down to him, they almost kill him!

    Joseph is no longer the center of the universe. God moves to Joseph’s center.

    My favorite passage in the Bible says

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    I believe during those difficult moments of rejection by his brothers Joseph began to trust God. He had nowhere else to turn.

    Sometimes that’s God’s plan—to get our attention in order to become LORD.

    Rarely does someone on top of the world—or the center of their own universe—turn to God. What’s the point?! They have everything they need and want. It’s usually during a crisis that we surrender to God.

    Perhaps you were told Jesus died for you so you could pray a prayer, be forgiven, and go to heaven when you die. That’s not the gospel. That’s a plan of salvation, but it’s not the gospel, the good news. It’s merely a part of it.

    The gospel is Jesus is LORD. That’s good news because it is more than personal and individualistic. Jesus is LORD of all.

    The late Dallas Willard used to talk about how the “Gospels of Sin Management” presume a Christ with no serious work other than redeeming humankind. This fosters “vampire Christians,” who only want a little blood for their sins but nothing more to do with Jesus until heaven.

    Jesus wants to be your Savior, but He also wants to be your LORD. It’s not about ego, but wisdom. He knows best. The sooner we can make Him the center of our universe, the sooner He will make our paths straight. He doesn’t promise it will be an easy path, but it will be filled with peace, joy, contentment, and hope because He knows best.

    Back to Joseph!

    Potiphar loves Joseph and puts him in charge of his household (39:4). Everything is great…until Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. When he chooses to honor God rather than give in to her temptation, she accuses Joseph of sexual harassment.

    When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

    But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. (Genesis 39:19-21)

    Remember, Joseph is in prison because he followed the LORD. Is it any surprise that the LORD was with him? It’s terrific to read how Joseph received kindness and favor from the prison warden…but he’s still in prison! An innocent man has been punished! How can Joseph be used by God? He’s stuck in prison!

    Have you ever felt that way? How can God use you since you’re stuck…in this job, this marriage, with this family, with these weaknesses, with these limitations?

    I heard a great story last week about an actress who moved to Los Angeles. She was certain God led her there to be salt and light in a dark industry. After multiple auditions without a job, she questioned her pastor about what God was doing. She obeyed God and moved to L.A. but was finding no success. Her pastor said perhaps she was sent to California to minister to the struggling actors and actresses that are not finding success. Her own failures would be more connective to starving artists than her own successes.

    I can only imagine the conversations Joseph had with God in prison, asking why, questioning his own calling, and feeling even further from the fulfillment of his dreams. Joseph may not have even realized it but he was moving God closer and closer to the center of his universe. Mike Breen says, “Godʼs Kingdom needs the “door” of a humble heart. God wants to work in Josephʼs submitted heart—and ours.

    Dreams, Genesis 40

    In the next chapter we see the butler, the baker,…but not the candlestick maker! The butler and baker had offended the king of Egypt, their master, and joined Joseph in prison. They have dreams, Joseph interprets them, the dreams come true, the baker is hung, and the cupbearer (or butler) is set free.

    The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. (Genesis 40:23)

    I wonder if Joseph was fully surrounded to God or just grateful to be given gifts to interpret dreams. Genesis 41 begins by telling us Joseph was in prison for two more years after the butler is released.

    Pharaoh has two dreams, no one could interpret them, and the cupbearer remembers Joseph.

    So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

    Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

    “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:14-16)

    “I cannot do it.” Joseph has finally moved from the center of his universe to the edge, and God has taken residence on the throne of Josephʼs heart. Joseph is fully surrendered, allowing God to express His Kingdom rule in his life and to fulfill his earliest calling, to rule and to govern.

    The rest of the story is quite remarkable as Joseph becomes Pharaoh’s right-hand man and eventually Joseph’s brothers literally bow down to him as they are desperate for food years later. The dreams God gave Joseph are eventually fulfilled.

    So What?

    Because of God’s covenant, we have a relationship with Him. Our identity is children of the King.

    As children of the King, we have a responsibility to represent the King to our world. We are HIs ambassadors, His agents on planet earth.

    God’s doesn’t just pick everyone to do His bidding, to be a Kingdom operative. God is looking for humble hearts that seek Him, that put Him at the center of their lives. The Bible says, “Youʼre the child of God and He wants to fashion your heart, so that you
    can be His representative. But that means a journey into humility and submission to Me.” Like Joseph, we must move from being the center of our world to inviting Jesus to be the center.

    Jesus’ first words to His disciples were, “Follow Me.” His final words were, “Go and make disciples.” Invitation and challenge. Covenant and Kingdom. Relationship and responsibility.

    It all begins with making our Savior our LORD.


    Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    King David, 22 December 2013

    Big Idea: The only greater king than David is Jesus. Will He be your King?

    Scripture Reading, 1 Samuel 16:4-13

    Introduction: Kings

    What do you think of when you hear the word King? We struggle in our culture to understand royalty. Most USAmericans probably think of celebrity when words like “prince” or “lady” or “royal family” are mentioned. In England, there is great wealth in Queen Elizabeth’s family, but limited power. Unless something unexpected takes place, we will soon see King Charles, King William, and King George.

    Imagine a land where one man ruled. He is sovereign and in complete control. He creates the law and is above it. He has unlimited riches…and power.

    Would you prefer to live under such a person or dwell in a democracy like our nation? Why? It depends upon who is on the throne. Today millions are oppressed by dictators in nations such as North Korea. They can submit or die.

    On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we are waiting for Jesus. For thousands of years, the world awaited the Messiah who arrived on the day we celebrate as Christmas. For the past two weeks we have examined agents of God that were forerunners of the Messiah. Each person radically changed history in anticipation of Emmanuel, God with us.

    From the beginning of time, God has wanted to pursue us and be our king. Some have called Adam the first king. He and Eve were given dominion over creation in the Garden of Eden. They failed, of course. Two weeks ago we talked about Adam, our first father. He co-created with God but also introduced sin to our world through the Fall. Jesus is called the second Adam because He reversed the curse of death through His own.

    Generations later, God makes a covenant with Abraham—our agent from last Sunday. Like Adam, Abraham was a deeply flawed man, yet God used him mightily. Out of Abraham the nation of Israel was born. God was their king, guiding Moses and the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. Despite God’s goodness and faithfulness, the people begged for a human king like the surrounding nations have, ultimately rejecting God as their LORD.

    Today we’re looking at our third and final biblical character, a king. The scripture read moments ago records the search for a new king. Saul is the first king of Israel, but God told the prophet Samuel to find his successor, a shepherd boy who is both an unlikely yet a perfect choice to become king. His name is…David.

    David was an agent of God. Few in human history have been more successful than the giant-killing shepherd boy who became the most famous king of Israel and, arguably, the most famous leader in human history other than Jesus. In fact, no person is mentioned more in the Bible besides Christ. To say that David was legendary is a great understatement.

    There are three things to know about David.

    First, he was immensely successful. Before thwarting Israelite slavery by killing Goliath, he had killed a lion and bear…without a gun (1 Samuel 17)! That was just the beginning. Women met King Saul, dancing and singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands. (1 Sam. 18:6-7)” He was a respected, powerful, magnificent ruler.

    The second thing to know about David is he was immensely sinful. Other than Adam and Eve’s infamous fruit snack, David’s lust, adultery, rape, and murder are the most notorious evil in the Bible. It has been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. David is Exhibit A.

    The third thing to know about David is he was a man after God’s own heart.

    After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

    He wrote most of the psalms, many filled with praise and others lament and question. He is my favorite Bible character other than Jesus. I love his passion, his honesty, and his musical skills. Many have wondered why a man with such a track record could be considered a man after God’s own heart. Psalm 51 reveals a broken, repentant man seeking reconciliation and restoration with the God he loves.

    Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
    according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
    Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

    For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
    Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
    so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

    Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
    Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
    (Psalm 51:1-4; 10-12)

    David confessed his sins and repented. Despite his great power, he needed forgiveness. He needed a Savior. He needed a King.

    King Jesus

    For generations people waited for the true King. Not surprisingly, this Messiah was a descendent of King David. In fact, the very first words in the New Testament, Matthew 1:1, says

    This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

    We won’t take the time to read the entire genealogy today, but verses 2 through 16 conclude with the record of

    …Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. (Matthew 1:16b)

    Jesus was a descendent of King David, though He hardly looked like a king during His thirty three years on our planet. He was born in a barn in a small town called Bethlehem. We know almost nothing about his first thirty years of life. When He goes public, the carpenter’s son teaches, performs miracles, and enters Jerusalem, not on a horse, but a humble donkey. The most surprising moment came when this promised King freely surrendered Himself to executioners who crucified Him, dashing all hopes that this Man was the Messiah who would set the people free from Roman tyranny. Or so they thought.

    Although hijacked by Santa and shopping, this season celebrates a king,
    the King. He visited our planet once and will return soon to rule and reign over sin, death, and evil forever. Here’s a description of what is to come:

    I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

    (Rev. 19:11-16)

    So now we wait for the return of the King. In the very last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, we find these words…

    “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

    “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:12-13, 16)

    King Jesus is the root and the offspring of King David, the bright Morning Star. Jesus—the little baby we see in Nativity scenes—will rule and reign forever…with us, imparting to His followers His own glory and a share in His royal dominion. He is coming soon!

    But wait, He’s here. We can’t see Him, but some of the greatest things in the world cannot be seen, like the wind, love, joy, or peace. But He’s here. He sent the Holy Spirit to live on our planet. Where? Inside every believer.

    It’s easy to look back at the birthday of King Jesus.
    It’s easy to look forward to the return of King Jesus.

    We struggle with the in-between.

    God is called
    Emmanuel which means “God with us.” We’ve sung it. We know it. But King Jesus is here…now…in this room. Yes, His physical body left the planet, but He sent the Holy Spirit to live and rule and reign…in us!


    In three days we will celebrate the birthday of a King. Will it be just another holiday, a day off work and reason to throw a party, or will it be a time to truly remember the King who became one of us…and who will return soon to rule and reign forever?

    This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of a King, I encourage you to do two things:

    1. Welcome Jesus into your life, your heart, your home. He is alive and wants nothing more than you—all of you. Kings do not have part-time subjects. Many love Jesus as Savior, but refuse to recognize Him as LORD. He gave everything for you when He died on the cross. He loves you so much, regardless of your past. Jesus is a King who willingly died for His subjects, asks everything in return, but then exchanges our broken, messed-up lives for abundant life filled with hope, joy, peace, purpose, and love. It’s the greatest gift ever!

    2. Prepare for the return of the King. He will return on a white horse, not a donkey. He will rule the world with truth and grace. Forever. Are you ready?

    Joy To The World

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    No King But Caesar, John 19:8-16a, 15 September 2013

    Big Idea: Who is your king?


    Why are you? I didn’t ask who you are, but why are you who you are. Why did you become the person you are today, or put another way, how are you? I don’t mean how are you doing, but how did you become the person you are today.

    Why are you?
    How are you?

    A more conventional question might be who and what has made the greatest impact on your life? We are the product of people and experiences that have shaped us. Perhaps you love sports because your dad loves sports. Maybe you joined the military after being moved by a movie or a book. Some of you have devoted great resources to care for those in need because of the example of a mentor or friend. When you think of who you are, why and how are you you?

    These questions are almost irrelevant in many parts of the world. Freedoms are scarce. Occupations are given rather than chosen.

    In our culture, however, we make hundreds or even thousands of choices each day about what to wear, how to spend our time, what kind of toothpaste to buy, what music to listen to, and what sources of information we will consume.

    Some choices are easy.

    Pizza or tacos?
    iPhone or Android?
    Coke or Pepsi?
    Michigan or Ohio State?

    What is the most difficult choice you have ever made? Why? How do you decide?

    Last week we looked at Pontius Pilate and his inability to find guilt in Jesus despite the cries of the Jewish leaders who shouted for His crucifixion.

    Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (19:4-5)

    As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

    But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

    The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (19:7)

    This brings us to today’s text.

    When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (19:8-10)

    Notice Pilate’s fear. It has grown. He is beginning to panic. He is looking for any possible to way to decree a “not guilty” verdict and asks Jesus for help. He knows an innocent man stands before him, and a special man at that.

    Jesus answered,
    “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (19:11)

    Jesus uses this opportunity to teach about God’s providence! He doesn’t even discount Pilate’s authority, but refers to its source.

    There are different types and severity of sin.

    Pilate is again trying to release Jesus.

    From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” (19:12)

    The Jewish leaders were going to report Pilate to Rome. Pilate is a politician, through and through. Power is dangerous.

    The Jewish leaders used threats to Caesar as their last resort, their secret weapon.

    When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

    “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

    Jesus is being delivered into the hands of religious and political sinners.

    The cross was a mercy seat where God could reach down and save sinners.

    The cross was a sacrifice for Jesus, an offering for sin, an act of obedience.

    The cross was a substitution for us as Jesus took our place.

    The cross was a triumph for satan (Genesis 3:15) and ultimately a defeat.

    The cross was a brutal murder to the world.

    But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

    “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

    He continues to question their judgment.

    “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

    Notice these are the religious leaders declaring their devotion to a human leader. They fail to recognize God in their midst, the Messiah they had been anticipating for generations.

    Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (19:16)

    The oldest creed of the Church says that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He chose Caesar. The people chose Caesar.

    Who do you choose?

    Who is your king?

    It may seem like a silly question since we have no king in our nation, no Caesar, no Pilate. Not even the most ardent supporter of a president or governor would call them king or lord or offer the allegiance afforded a king. We know the right answer on Sunday morning is “Jesus.”

    But who do you really serve? Who is your God, your king? Who influences you? Whose voice do you hear? The world is loud. It screams that it’s all about you, your pleasure, your power, and your stuff. Phone companies have realized two years is too long to wait for a new cell phone. Your house is too small. You need more Facebook friends and Twitter followers. If it feels good, do it. He who dies with the most toys wins. Everything is relative. Don’t judge. We’re all supposed to be happy. As long as it doesn’t hurt someone, do whatever you want.

    Despite our culture’s journey away from the Bible, many know the Ten Commandments, or at least some of them. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t lie.

    What is the first and greatest commandment?

    You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

    No other kings. No greater influences. No higher allegiances.

    Who is your king? Prove it with your life.

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.