Thy Kingdom Come: "O Noble Guest"

Text: Luke 2:1-14
Date: Christmas Midnight + 12/24/16

Thy Kingdom Come.
Welcome to earth, O noble Guest.

Politics and governmental intervention. Wherever you go you can’t get away from it. Caesar Augustus when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Mandatory registration. For what purpose? We’re not told. But tax money cannot be far from the picture. And now we ourselves have been dragged through another national election. But this time politics have divided people more than nearly any time in our history. What are the two things to avoid in family gatherings? Politics and religion, they say. Why is that? I’ll bet it’s because a person’s opinions of both are on the one hand so personally held and on the other hand seemingly without any real, objective, principled bases in reality. Mere personal opinion.

Then there’s the old argument of the so-called separation of church and state in our country. What most people don’t seem to know is that that separation is only a one-way street. That is to say that while the government is barred from infringing on anyone’s religion, the Church rightly speaks to the government. That is, without honoring God the Creator of all law is unmoored from God’s authoritative, universal Law and society falls apart. Who says it is absolutely wrong to murder someone? Who says it is absolutely wrong to redefine marriage?

When it comes to God we are talking about a kingdom, not just an association of like-minded people and certainly not a democracy. God is King over all whose sovereign will commands obedience of all. But according to His revealed will and word we are to discover not only God’s anger and wrath against sin and disobedience but also His saving love for all mankind. It was because of that saving love that we tonight celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God, that in Jesus it was God Himself come to save us. Therefore we welcome Him with royal praise, our Noble Guest. Luther gave us the words in his famous hymn,

Welcome to earth, O noble Guest.
Through whom the sinful world is blest!
You came to share my misery
That You might share Your joy with me. (LSB 358:8)

The sinful world is blest because He comes as Savior of all, saving all mankind from the misery of sin, the fear of God’s punishment, giving us the joy of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of everlasting life.

The Noble Guest is King. But His battle and command over sin, death and the devil made Him look like anything but a king. For one thing He was born a child of a poor and pure virgin. We will see His royalty in His ministry of preaching, teaching and healing. If we are tempted to forget or deny His royalty He reminds us along the way, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Even at His ultimate battle for our freedom when it appeared the darkness overwhelmed Him on the cross, even there the royal crest reads, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” For even death will not be able to destroy His kingdom.

It is here, in the manger and on the cross that not the wrath and judgment of God but “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11). Though it was both Church and State that rebelled against Him, God’s grace prevailed and prevails today. So it is that the apostle Paul urges the Church, “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:1). God’s Kingdom is what matters. “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13).

Politics and religion! Tonight reminds us that these go together better than many think, for it is for the life of the world that Christ was born, our noble guest. In Him “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign” (Rev. 11:17).

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
And make us Thine alone,
Who with the Father ever art
And Holy Spirit, one. (LSB 412:6)