March 31, 2024

We Have a Forever King (Luke 1:30-33)

Preacher: Bryce Morgan Series: Our Bible Reading Plan (2023-2024) Topic: One Lord: No One Like You Scripture: Luke 1:30–33


Children's Lesson (click here)

I. In That New World

What will be the best part of living forever in the new and perfect world that God has in store for all who believe? Will it be the absence of disease and death? Will it be the end of sin? Will it be an unimaginably full experience of peace and joy and purpose and belonging? Will it be new depths of knowledge and possibility and abundance of every kind?

This Easter morning, God wants to answer that question through an Easter passage that's disguised as a Christmas passage. Turn if you haven't already to Luke 1, verses 30-33. 

II. The Passage: “Of His Kingdom There Will Be No End” (1:30-33)

In these verses from Our Bible Reading Plan we discover that God has sent an angel to a virgin named Mary who will be the mother of the Messiah. After greeting her in verse 28 with the words, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you,” Mary is surprised and confused by this supernatural encounter. Let's pick up the conversation in verse 30...

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. [31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. [32] He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, [33] and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

These are familiar verses, aren't they? But most of us know these verses as part of the story that we celebrate every December. Now, whether you've thought about them this way or not, these classic Christmas verses are ultimately Easter verses. To explain why that's true we need to go backward in time about 1000 years. In 2 Samuel 7, we read how God sent the prophet Nathan to David, the shepherd boy, the giant slayer, who went on to become king over all Israel. Because David was a good and godly king, because he was a man after God's own heart, Nathan announced to him this message from the God of Israel...

And your house [David] and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:16)

Now, in addition to many occasions in which political upheaval in the region temporarily crushed the possibility of an Israelite throne, the biggest threat to any kind of lasting fulfillment of this promise was the fact that David died. And then his son died. And then the son of his son died. And so on... and so on.

But then an angel arrives and makes this announcement: a new descendant of David will be born, and he will reign. Notice the three ways in verses 32 and 33 that the angel refers to the covenant promise that God gave David a thousand years earlier: first, the angel tells Mary that Jesus (v. 32) “will be called the Son of the Most High”. But this is not a description of deity, as some believe. This is a messianic title taken straight out of 2 Samuel 7:14, where God declares that he will be a father to David's son. This title is used of the messiah in Psalm 2 as well.

Second, we read in the second half of verse 32 that God “will give to him the throne of his father David”. That's pretty straightforward. Finally, in verse 33, the angel reassures Mary that her son, who will be God's son, “will reign over the house of Jacob [For how long?...] forever”. “Jacob”, of course, is just another name for Israel. So... three ways this passage points us back to the covenant promise of 2 Samuel 7.

But even though an angel from God brought this exciting news, the rest of Luke's Gospel goes on to describe the huge challenges that threatened the fulfillment of this message and the promise to David. To start, at this point in history, Israel was under military occupation by one of the most powerful empires ever: the Romans. Add to that the fact that, for the most part, Israel's religious leadership despised Jesus. And worst of all, these two groups eventually came together and delivered Jesus over to the very same fate that befell every single Davidic king before him: they killed him. Chapter 19 of the Gospel of John tells us that the same woman who beheld this angelic messenger also beheld her son's slow death on a Roman cross. When the finally removed her son's lifeless body from the cross, what must she have thought about the promise of the angel... “and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end”?

But the angel understood what she did not understand at that point; what none of Jesus' family, none of Jesus' followers understood... even though he told them plainly on many occasions, beginning in Luke 9:22... “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” You see, just as the Old Testament foretold of an eternal throne for David, it also described a Messiah who would suffer and die for his people. How can those two things be reconciled? Resurrection!

Do you see now why these verses are ultimately Easter verses? Yes, there is no Easter message without the Christmas Story. But the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of every story from God. I pray that's true for your story as well.

III. His Blessed Reign

Let's revisit my initial question this morning: “What will be the best part of living forever in the new and perfect world that God has in store for all who believe?” Now, that question is built on the precious truth that through Him and beyond death, we also can be raised to new life, just as Jesus was raised to new life. But notice that the angel's announcement to Mary is not focused on certain benefits that you and I can enjoy in the afterlife. It isn't focused on a reunion of family members in that 'sweet by and by'. It isn't focused on the abolition of disease or death, of sin or suffering. It isn't even focused on walking with Jesus on some heavenly shore in that new world.

No. The angel's announcement is not only focused on a forever Jesus... but wonderfully, it announces a forever King. The best part of living forever in the new and perfect world that God has in store for all who believe will be living under the blessed reign of Jesus; which in the end, is the same as saying, under the blessed reign of God.

Okay. Let's think about this. How many people do you know who want to 'go to heaven', how many people who are looking for hope of life beyond the grave, who are extremely open to, even eager for, an afterlife full of blessing, how many of those people are thrilled by the idea that we will be ruled forever by a King? That we will be eternal servants? Isn't that what the angel is announcing here in Luke 1?

Now to be clear, I'm not presenting that as something bad. In fact, it's exactly the opposite. It's something really, really, really good. In fact, for us as human beings, there is nothing better than that. Every human being was created to serve. But instead of serving God, all of us serve ourselves—or more accurately, we serve the lie that life is really about us and not God. This is precisely why the Messiah came to suffer and die for us the death we deserved.

But wonderfully, Easter promises us freedom from that kind of slavery and its eternally destructive consequences. The resurrection of Jesus offers us the incomparable blessing of coming under the blessed rule of God, forever and ever. So all of the blessings we described in reference to the world to come... those blessings flow from God's loving leadership over us. If it was any other way, if there was any other leader or master or agenda in that world to come, there would necessarily be corruption and suffering and death. It can't be any other way in a God-centered universe like ours.

For the man or woman who wants Easter to mean the hope of new life on my terms, the angel's announcement in Luke 1, the promise of a forever King, is not good news. It's important that we clarify that here and whenever we share the gospel. But for the man or woman, the boy or girl, who recognizes the ugliness and poisonous nature of every other rival ruler, who recognizes the foolishness of pretending to be the master of one's own destiny, who recognizes the gentleness of Jesus, the goodness of God, and the mercy available at his “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), then how could the angel's declaration not be good news? Brothers and sisters, friends, we have a forever King, and his name is Jesus!

How can you share that hope of new life, in that kind of kingdom? It begins in your heart. Inwardly turn from sin and self, and in faith, embrace Jesus as your only hope of forgiveness, freedom, and forever with God. How can you know that you really have received this Good News; that you really have trusted Him? You will begin, in this present age, living under, and praying for, and giving thanks for, and pointing others to, and looking forward to the very reign of Jesus that the angel announced in Luke 1.

Brothers and sisters, let's model for others just how good that reign really is. And let's keep praying that “his kingdom would come, and his will would be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” And let's rejoice this morning in the true fulfillment of God's promise to David, and the blessings that brought (and will bring), not only to the people of Israel, but to the whole earth.

Would you pray with me as we give thanks for Jesus, the King who defeated even death?