The Full Assurance Of Hope; The Christ-Child: Our Prophet, Priest, And King

Note:  Christmas Eve Sermon at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, ND (Service of Lessons and Carols)
Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Can you smell the hay? 
Can you smell the fresh animal dung?
Can you feel the cool breeze from the evening wind?
Can you feel the dirt and wild grass clippings inside your sandals and in between your toes?
Can you hear the restless animals in their stalls? 
Can you hear the excited voices and the sound of pain coming from a woman giving birth?
Can you hear the first wheeze of breath and the first cry of a babe who has just entered the world?
Can you see through the darkness of night?
Can you see the feeding trough in the middle of the floor?  No, it is not full of animal food, but in it lays a baby.  Yes, in the feeding trough lays not animal food, but a baby who has just been washed, rubbed with salt and olive oil, and then wrapped with strips of cloth.[1]
Where are we at?  We are either in a musty smelling cave or some sort of stable attached to an inn.  Yes, we are at the birth of a baby some two-thousand years ago. 
But what do these surroundings communicate about the birth of this child.  Certainly these impoverished and unsterile conditions are not the settings or conditions of one birthed within a noble class of people or within an earthly powerful kingdom or within a holy religious system.  But rather, these circumstances are the birthing environment of poor peasants in a dinky little town.  The surroundings and environment scream out that this is the birth of a nobody. 
Do not let these surroundings and this environment deceive you though. 
Behold; look again at the child.  This child is no ordinary child, but a child who is like the mighty and powerful prophets of the days of old.  However, where the prophets of the days of old spoke of the great and mighty prophet to come, this babe in the manger will grow to not speak beyond Himself to some point ahead, but He will grow up and speak of Himself.  Indeed, in this baby we do not have a mere man that will proclaim a message about God, but we have God in the flesh speaking to us.
Behold, look again at the child.  This child is no ordinary child, but a child who is like the faithful Priests of the days of old.  However, where the Priests of the days of old would sacrifice offerings on behalf of the people over and over and over, this baby would someday not offer the blood of bulls and goats, but would offer Himself once and for all, on behalf of all of mankind.
Behold, look again at the child.  This child is no ordinary child, for in the midst of the hay, animals, and small gathering of people lays one who has royal dominion.  Indeed, in this birth lay one who has complete dominion and power and glory.  This authority is due to the fact that He is the heir of all things, for through Him the Father and the Holy Spirit created everything that exists.[2]  Indeed, the Kingdom of Grace, the Kingdom of Power, and the Kingdom of Glory belong to Him.
Behold, this child is no ordinary child, for lying in the feeding trough is not just another Old Testament prophet, but the Lord of the prophets.  Lying in the feeding trough is not just another Old Testament priest who offers up sacrifices on behalf of Israel year after year, but the great high priest who will someday offer up Himself once and for all.  Lying in the manger is not just a another Old Testament King who has limited dominion and a limited dynasty, but ‘the’ king of king who has rule and control over all things and a dominion that will extend forever.
Dear friends, you are beholding Jesus the Christ, the one who proclaims to you words of life unto your salvation; Words of forgiveness—for you. 
Dear friends, you are beholding Jesus the Christ, the one who reconciles you by His own body and blood; shed blood—on your behalf. 
Dear friends, you are beholding Jesus the Christ, the one who exercises complete and righteous authority over the universe and the church; authority that holds and preserves you.
But what do we make of this environment, these impoverished, dumpy conditions that the Christ was born into?  Do not believe that this is beneath our God!  Jesus, the Son of God, intentionally descendent and humiliated Himself taking on the form of a slave in order to redeem mankind.  His coming to us in a lowly manger as our prophet, priest, and king is quite intentional. 
In other words, you don’t need a king who wears fine jewels, a prestigious crown, and waltzes around begging for the accolades of mankind in the halls of His castle.  No, you need a King who cuts through the manmade hierarchal power schemes and showy facades of authority to accomplish salvation—for you.  That is what a true King is and does for His people.
Furthermore, you don’t need a priest who strokes your ego with religious applause when you do good or awards you with religious merit badges when you serve your neighbor.  No, you need a Priest  who will stop at nothing to save you.  You need a Priest who will shed His blood for you in order to pay for every single sin that you have committed.[3]  That is what a true Priest is and does for His people.
Finally, you don’t need a prophet who tailors his message to what the people want to hear.  You don’t need a prophet who bases His message off of the opinion polls or popular opinion, but you need a Prophet “who cares enough to tell you the truth, to say, ‘Apart from me, you are depraved, dead, and damned.  But I love you.  I want you.  I desire you to be my child more than anything else.  So I have done all and everything necessary for you to be mine.”[4]  That is what a true Prophet is and does for His people.
Baptized Saints, you don’t need the heightened frill, the embellished persona, or the glitter of glory, but rather you need Jesus Christ.  And yes, you have Jesus Christ, for unto you a Savior has been born.
Glory be to you O Christ Jesus: king of eternal glory, crucified and resurrected mediator, and eternal word.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our prophet, priest, and king. Amen.

[1] The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1709.

[2] See Hebrew 1:3. 

[3] Chad Bird, Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons (Copyright 2014), 119.

[4] Ibid.

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