Jesus Lord at Thy Birth ~ 20101226 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
12/26 Jesus Lord at thy Birth – The Most Ego-centric Person in the History of the World
Today I want to look at Jesus, the most ego-centric person in the history of the world. There are a couple things that stimulated my thinking in this direction. A couple Saturdays ago, I was in my new study working on the Sunday message and I could hear our worship team practicing 'Silent Night'. The phrase 'Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth' captured my attention. What an amazing statement! To claim that a newborn infant held authority over his parents, authority over the Roman king who issued the decree that drove his parents to find lodging in Bethlehem, authority over the angels that announced his birth; over the animals that shared his birthplace; authority over the stars that drew the attention of the magi from the east. This helpless infant wielded stars and kings and angels to do his bidding? 'Jesus, Lord at thy birth'. This captured my attention. And I have been listening to an audiobook by John Stott called 'Why I am a Christian'. Much of the outline for this message was stimulated by a section from his book that deals with the the staggering claims of Jesus.
So I've entitled this message 'Jesus, Lord at they birth; the most ego-centric person in the history of the world'. The song declares that Jesus was Lord at his birth, but what does Jesus say about himself? I want to hear, not what the songs say about Jesus, but at what Jesus claimed for himself.
As we look at the gospels, we find that Jesus was extraordinarily self-centered. If we pay attention to the words in red, we see 'I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. Have you ever noticed that before? That has never caught my attention. Most people who talk this way are nauseatingly annoying. How is it that Jesus talks this way, but he does it in such a way that I never even noticed it before? He is constantly talking about himself. Jesus believed he was truly one-of-a-kind and that everything is all about him, and that came through in all his teaching.
Listen to some of the things Jesus says. Listen as if you've never heard these words before. Hear it as if it were the snotty-nosed kid from down the street who was saying these things:
Do you hear how incredibly arrogant and self-centered these statements are? I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. He wants us to yoke up as if we were his oxen. He clams to be the solution to all hunger and to be able to quench all thirst. He says that everyone is in the dark unless they are following him. He claims to originate outside this world – to be God's gift to mankind, God's own son, and everyone will die in their sins if they don't believe he is all that. He claims to be the entrance, the good shepherd, the living one who gives life. He expects us to serve him and follow him. He seems to think that everyone will be attracted to him. He expects to be considered rabbi and king. He thinks he is the definition of truth and life, and he thinks he has the right to exclude or allow access to the Father. He claims that we are totally incompetent apart from him. He claims to be specially loved by the Father, and he wants us to be with him so we can see how awesome he is. Jesus is directing all the attention to himself – it's all about me.
This is even more startling when we hear how much emphasis Jesus placed on humility and how harsh he was toward the self-righteous and proud. Jesus claimed for himself a unique relationship to the scriptures, a unique relationship with God, and an unique relationship with the rest of the world.
The very first word recorded in the gospel of Mark as spoken by Jesus is “pepleromai”
Fulfilled. The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is here because I am the king and I am here. Jesus made the astounding claim that he was the fulfillment of all prophetic scripture. In the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me... he has anointed me... He sent me...” Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. I am the one. I am the one all scriptures point to.
Jesus healed an invalid on the sabbath – Saturday, and told him to pick up his mat and walk.
Jesus said to the Jews who were accusing him:
Jesus was claiming that all their scriptures were pointing to him.
His favorite term for himself was 'son of man'. He got this title from the prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14
This was a great title of honor and authority and power, and Jesus referred to himself over and over again as the 'son of man'.. But Jesus also took himself to be the fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah of the suffering servant:
These two prophetic pictures – the son of man who rules forever, and the suffering servant who bears the sin of many – Jesus saw himself as the fulfillment of both.
Jesus saw himself as the ruling son of man and the sin bearing suffering servant. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures.
He told his disciples that they were witnessing the fulfillment of the prophecies.
Intimacy with the Father
Jesus claimed to have a totally unique relationship with his Father. When he taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to address God as 'our Father', but when he addressed God himself, he claimed a special unique relationship that was exclusively his.
Jesus did not claim to be a son of the Father – he claimed to be the son of the Father.
The Jews recognized the staggering claim Jesus was making about his relationship with the Father.
He claimed to have been entrusted with all judgment, and to be entitled to the same honor to which the Father was entitled.
In fact he went so far as to say:
When he prayed, he had the audacity to say:
Jesus claimed for himself an absolutely unique one-of-a-kind unprecedented relationship with the Father, and he claimed distinctive rights and privileges associated with that role.
Jesus claimed to have a role that was utterly distinct, that put him in a class by himself. Friends and enemies alike recognized that he spoke with authority. When he demanded that his disciples leave everything and follow him, he expected that they would obey. And they did! He claimed to be the good shepherd. He said he came to seek and to save that which was lost. The implication was that he was in a moral category by himself. He alone was not lost and did not need seeking and saving. He was not lost but everyone else was. And he had the ability to find and save lost sheep. He claimed to be the light of the world and everyone else was in darkness. He asserted that everyone was hungry and thirsty and he was the bread of life and living water. He said that he was the great physician and everyone else was sick. He said people were in bondage and he came to set them free. He even claimed to have authority to forgive sins.
Jesus claimed to forgive sins. The people who heard him recognized his claim. All sin is primarily against God, so the only one with the authority to forgive sins was God. Jesus, in claiming to forgive was claiming to be the one who was sinned against. In fact, Jesus even claims that he will be the one who is the Judge on the last day.
Jesus claims to be the one who will settle your eternal destiny. That is a tall claim – to be the judge of all mankind. He claims to be the unique son of the Father, the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures.
How is it then that we don't hear his claims as obnoxious, boastful, arrogant?
Jesus is both unapologetically self-centered and deeply and genuinely humble and selfless –he drove moneychangers out of his Father's house, and he stooped down to wash the feet of his disciples. How could he point everyone to himself and yet say that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many? How can he make the audacious claim that he is God in the flesh and that he is gentle and lowly in heart? How can he claim to be love, which does not seek its own and continually draw all the attention to himself? How can this be? How can selfless love and total egocentric self-centeredness go together in one person?
The answer is simply this: that in love, which seeks the highest good of the person loved, he pointed all people to himself because he is absolutely the only way to the Father. He is loving in his self-centeredness because he is our highest good. Pride is rightly condemned as pride because it thinks more highly of self than what it ought to think. We are annoyed with arrogant people because they are puffed up and think the are bigger and better than they really are. Jesus does not strike us that way, because his claims are not exaggerated. They are true. And he does not use his position to lord it over anyone. He is benevolent. He uses his position and power to bless and to do good, to lift up the oppressed and bind up the broken hearted. He is all that he claims to be, and he is kind and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. He is full of grace and truth.
As he read about himself in the Isaiah scroll:
Jesus is God in the flesh, come to earth to bear in his body the penalty for our sins. Jesus is the fulfillment of the scriptures. Jesus has authority to judge and to forgive. If we want to be forgiven, we must come to Jesus. “Come to me” Jesus cries, and it is a proclamation of his self sacrificing love for us.
Jesus demands to know what you think of him. This is a personal invitation. Are you offended by him? Annoyed? Do you wish to admire him from a distance? Will you bow the knee to him as king?