Making a Right Judgment about Christ
December 28, 1997
Introduction: The birth of Jesus Christ put the world face to face with the reality of God. His coming put the world on notice against the folly of disbelief. Over the course of his life and ministry, and especially his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead, he would prove that he had life in himself.
Joh 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
Only God has life in himself, and he gives it to whom he will.
Joh 5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
On planet earth, God created life. The disease of sin hit as a mighty plague and all were destined for death. Indeed, many died but many looked to the appearance of a miracle healer from the One who created life. In Jesus, God sent a ‘space probe’ to earth in the form of his Son to rediscover life - to discover those who were gasping for physical and spiritual air and wanted to live. Some would, for some strange reason known only to the insidiousness of the disease, prefer death to life. But for those who would embrace life by faith in his healing, God was pleased to give it. It would be to those who saw in Christ a reason to live. That reason would be to serve God. It would be those who judged him not only able to heal as God but worthy for them to serve him as God. Let us look at the lives of some of those he touched in his coming. Some made right judgments and some didn’t, but to all who desired life by faith he was pleased to give it.
1. A Right Judgment About My Body - given for him as he gave his body for me.
Mary: (Lk. 1:26-38) Her body was not her own. In giving her body she obtained the life of Christ.
Mary made a right judgment about Christ by admitting that her body was not her own but the temple of the Holy Spirit in whom he could dwell (1Cor. 3:16). God could use her as he wanted to since she was his servant (Lk. 1:38). She obtained life by allowing her life to be used as a vessel for his life. Are we willing to give our lives like Mary that he might be born in us - that he might be conceived in us by the power of the Holy Spirit? Did we think it is impossible for us, even though, like Mary, we were virgins to the indwelling of God (Lk. 1:34). Even as it is possible for God to bear life in one barren as Elizabeth who has tried to bear life, he is able to bear life in the virgin who has never tried. God is the author of life and he is able to give life if we will receive it. Making a right judgment about Christ allows Christ the rights of habitation within us, and his habitation bears the fruit of life.
2. A Right Judgment About My Family - given for him that I might come into his family.
Joseph: (Mt. 1:18-25) His wife was not his own. In giving his wife he obtained the life of Christ.
Joseph made a right judgment about Christ when he agreed to allow God to use his wife first for his own purposes no matter how it looked for him. He agreed to allow God to preempt his rights as a husband. He gave God the first rights. God has rightful ownership of all that belongs to us, whether it be the use of our very own bodies or even the use of our very own spouse. Should there be anything that we should ever withhold from God? Joseph allowed God to use him as an earthly foster parent for a child that was not his. He was God’s earthly tool for Christ’s early protection by taking him to Egypt (Mt. 2:13-23). He was God’s earthly tool for Christ’s instruction in the religion of God’s people by taking him to the Passover where Jesus stayed to learn in the temple. Being God, young Jesus was consumed with the things of God, and his parents partly understood (Lk. 2:41-52). We don’t hear anything about Joseph after this and can only assume that he passed from the scene having served his purpose. May we all be willing to be used in such a way even to the end of our lives, and even that our lives might end in this life for the glory of God’s purpose. Making a right judgment about Christ allows Christ the rights of ownership of all that we have, even the service of ourselves, even at our expense.
3. A Right Judgment About My Allegiance - given to him that I might have guidance.
The Shepherds: (Lk. 2:8-20) Their shepherdship was not their own. In receiving sheephood they obtained the life of Christ.
The shepherds made a right judgment about Christ when they believed God through his angel that they themselves would find a Shepherd, and that as his sheep, they would have the privilege of proclaiming this to all the other sheep of the land - to those in need of a Shepherd. What better place for a sheep to find a Shepherd than at the manger where they may be fed by him. There would be no reason for the people of the land to believe such a lowly cast as shepherds, unless of course, they also were his sheep. The sheep know the gate, and the voice, and follow. May all become aware of their great need for a great leader through those who are great followers. And the shepherds returned to praise God for this Great Shepherd of the sheep after spreading their joy to the other sheep. Making a right judgment about Christ proclaims Christ’s rights of Shepherdship to the sheep and praises him for that Shepherdship.
4. A Right Judgment About My Possessions - given to him that I might become his possession.
The Wise Men: (Mt. 2:1-12) Their wealth, wisdom and position was not their own. In worshipping the greater wealth, wisdom and position of Christ they obtained the life of Christ.
The wise men made a right judgment about Christ when they followed the star of the east to the Star of the Universe, the Bright Morning Star. Even though they had much knowledge, they came seeking greater knowledge. Not that they would or could obtain that knowledge primarily, but that they might worship the source of it in him who was greater than they could ever be. A wise man knows his limits and knows enough to worship as God that which is obviously beyond himself. And true worship makes an offering. Making a right judgment about Christ seeks to worship him at any cost, traveling over land and sea to present ourselves, and all we have, to him in sacrificial offering. They weren’t called wise men for nothing. They knew and believed that salvation was from the Jews and they didn’t trust Herod, choosing instead to believe the dream given them by God, even as they had believed the star that God had given them. Would you be willing to follow a star? If you believe in Jesus, you are.
5. A Right Judgment About My Position - becoming subject to his position lest he subject me to his position.
King Herod: (Mt. 2:3-18) His kingship was stolen from others and his insecure lust for power at any cost did cost him the life he could have had in Christ.
King Herod did not make a right judgment about Christ. He thought he could outwit God, but God outwitted him. The innocent lives of babies he took in fear would haunt him for eternity. His wisdom paled in comparison to the Wise Men. If a man is that afraid of losing his power then maybe he should take note that his fear is a well founded fear - that a God exists whom he cannot outwit. It is perfect love that drives out fear (1Jn. 4:18). To sit in judgment of God rather than making a right judgment about God brings God’s judgment upon yourself. History tells us that Herod died a horrible death not too long after these events. In fact he did die because that is when Joseph and Mary returned to Israel from Egypt. Herod went into an eternity of horror which is the price of a wrong judgment about Christ for anyone. God can read the heart and knew that Herod was not honest with the Wise Men about wanting to go and worship the Christ after they found him. God deals with dishonest hearts.
6. A Right Judgment About My Expectations - centered on Christ so that I may never be disappointed.
Simeon and Anna: (Lk. 2:22-38) Their lives were not their own. By waiting expectantly for the coming of Christ they obtained life in Christ.
Simeon and Anna made a right judgment about Christ by expectantly waiting for him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Expectant waiting upon God, and in his power, is never disappointed. They were directed by the Holy Spirit to watch and to wait. It is a giving over of life in faith to God which is never disappointed. They were old and went to their graves in peace, having witnessed the hope of their salvation. As they waited expectantly for his coming, we are directed to wait expectantly for his return. Neither shall we be disappointed. It is true we may have to cross over the river of death. This crossing may be shallow for some and deep for others. But we shall not be disappointed. He is on the other side. No matter which side of the river, we shall see him. The waiting will be worth it, and we have his power to sustain us in that wait. Making a right judgment about Christ does not grow tired in waiting and will rejoice in his revelation.
7. A Right Judgment About My Work - done for the increase of Christ’s glory that his glory might increase in me.
John Baptist: (Jn. 1:19-34) His ministry was not his own. In graciously giving over the work of his ministry to Christ, he obtained the life of Christ.
It is man’s sin nature to seek his identity by what he does - much more so than who he does it for. John made a right judgment about Christ when he did not struggle to make a permanent thing out of the temporary identity that God gave him as a herald for the coming of Jesus. He did not refuse to give over to Christ what was rightfully belonging to Christ. He humbled himself and gave rightful praise, honor and glory to Christ as one greater than he himself. John was not enamored with himself and knew his place before God. It even ended in costing his life, but no matter. He had already obtained a better life no one could take. Making a right judgment about Christ willingly turns over all praise, glory and honor to him who is truly worthy. It is because he is the one we do it for. If my praise is found in Christ alone, it can never be taken away. Would you keep any of this for yourself, or like John, would you know your place before the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
Conclusion: The life of Christ is obtained by faith or lost by the lack of it. All these but Herod had faith and found life. The different stories are merely about how that faith was manifested and what we can learn from its application to our lives. May the lessons of this Christmas pageant live on in our lives the rest of this year. Let us not become like the world in its scurry to get back to business as usual now that the Christmas rush is over. Let us not rush to return or exchange the presents we received from him like the presents that the world gives. We forget all too easily the real lessons of this ‘reason for the season.’ Let us devote our bodies to the Christ like Mary. Let us devote our families and our service to the Christ like Joseph. Let us devote our allegiance to the Great Shepherd like those who truly understand the needs of the sheep. Let us devote our possessions to the King of kings like the wise men who were truly wise. Let us not get hung up with our own sense of self like Herod who anxiously dreaded the coming of the real King but patiently look forward to his coming with great joy like Simeon and Anna. And may we, like John Baptist, do all things for his glory this coming year so that his glory might be increased not only in our own hearts but in the hearts of all the world.
Timeless Truth: Making a right judgment about the Christ requires a right judgment first about ourselves. Making a right judgment about the life he brings requires a right judgment about the life we need.
Without Christ I have no body that will not perish, no family to which I belong, no leader which I can follow, no possessions that will ever last, no position that will ever matter, no joy that will ever be realized, and no work that will amount to anything. All things are found in Christ. This is the only judgment you can ever make that really matters.