“Open Sesame” December 18/16

OPEN SESAME

ISAIAH 9:1-7; MATT. 4:12-17 CHILMARK COMMUNITY CHURCH DEC. 18, 2016 Armen Hanjian, Pastor

The passage from Isaiah 9 has become for Christians one of the major Hebrew scripture references picturing Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. I see two reasons for this. Matthew quotes the first two verses of Isaiah 9 and suggests that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy. Secondly, Handel’s Messiah has solidified that connection: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders….”

Scholars are not in agreement as to whether Isaiah had in mind a king who would rule in Isaiah’s time, that is, that Isaiah wrote this to celebrate an actual Judean king or whether Isaiah had a far-off divine event in mind.

The government shall be upon his shoulders “ -that is Isaiah’s image of just what Israel needed. The one to fulfill that hope the people called the messiah. “Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word mashiach. “Christ” comes from the Greek word christos. Both titles mean “the anointed.” Jewish expectations looked for a divinely sent ruler to recue the Israelites from their troubles and lead them in serving God. Christians called Jesus the Christ or the Messiah because they believed,

they saw that God had anointed him, set him apart, to fulfill this hope of God’s people.

The fact of the matter is that Isaiah didn’t have to know in advance, he didn’t have to prophesy his coming in order to make Jesus who he was.

Isaiah doesn’t prove Jesus to be the Christ. Those who come to know Jesus, who are open to him, who let his mind and teachings saturate and yes, take charge – those are the ones who know Jesus is the Christ, know him to be the “Wonderful Counselor”, the “Mighty God” with us, A father that will never die- “everlasting” , the best source of peace, “The Prince of Peace.”

The government shall be upon his shoulder.” Governing or ruling does not come from outside authority in the final analysis. We have a 45 mile an hour speed limit on the island. Is our speed limit governed by the sign that declares the law to us? Not for most people. How fast can I drive without being caught? What will my car be able to do safely? What is the best fuel economy? How late am I? The decision as to our speed comes from within us.

The governing of the Messiah, the Christ is also an internal matter. We may call him Lord and Master, King, Ruler of my Life, etc. ; we may make a public declaration of our commitment to his lordship, but it’s what we believe in our hearts rather than what we’ve accepted in our minds that is operative.

If I believe with all my heart Christ is the best direction setter for my life, I will really work at listening for his direction thru scripture, prayer, worship and study. If in my heart of hearts, I have not yet surrendered to Him and I am wanting to keep control, then I will avoid listening, avoid study groups, avoid applying the lessons to me and apply them to others.

When the Messiah comes, the government shall be upon his shoulders.

The Messiah has come,” proclaims the Christian community. To the extent I let him rule over my life, to that extent the Kingdom of God has come to me. To the extent our systems of laws and caring reflect justice and compassion, to that extent the Kingdom of God has come to our community.

The type of kingdom is determined by the character of the king. Isaiah, you will note, makes no mention of enlarged borders, increased trade or invincible armies. The glory of the Messiah’s reign will reflect justice and righteousness according to Isaiah.

Two topics dominated Jesus teachings: money and the kingdom of God.

No wonder – both have to do with that to which we are most committed.

There are periods in life when it is appropriate to withdraw – to withdraw and not feel guilty about it – to say I just can’t be available to almost everyone the way I have been. Having said that, I say that by and large, Martin Luther was correct when he said, “So this is now the mark by which we all shall certainly know whether the birth of our Lord Christ is effective in us: if we take upon ourselves the need of our neighbor.”

George Bowen, a brilliant man, a missionary to India a century ago knew something of meeting the needs of his neighbors and how that interfaced with what he believed in his heart of hearts. In a letter to his sister he confessed: “I told the Lord that I was content to be everlastingly insignificant.” This admission to the Lord was in stark contrast to earlier entries in his diary in which he aims to become a second Paul or to move about the bazaars of Bombay as “Christ himself.” While he was to himself a failure, his devotional writings circulated with marked effect on several continents. (The Interpreter’s Bible 5:421)

The kingdom of God in you means the government, the direction setting, shall be upon his shoulders.

LeComte du Nouy has written in Human Destiny some words that indicate the nature and affect of His government: “The Roman patricians of the year 33, the philosophers and the intellectuals would have been highly amused if they had been told that the unknown Jew, tried by the procurator of a distant colony…would play an infinitely greater role than Caesar, would dominate the history of the Occident, and become the purest symbol of all humanity.”

Hall Luccock reminded me of a movie I saw in my childhood – the fascinating story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” – one of the tales of the Arabian Nights and how we see a truth about Christ there.

The forty thieves lived in a vast cave, the door of which opened and shut at the words, “Open sesame!” and “Close sesame!” Ali Baba tried saying, “Open wheat!” and “Open Barley!” but there was no movement of the door. Then one day he accidently discovered the magic words, “Open sesame!” And the door swung wide open. The word which opens to us life’s treasures is – Jesus Christ.

As I share with you how Christ has opened life’s treasures for me, be aware of how he has done that for you.

The affect of Christ on us can work strikingly, but in my experience he has been working quietly and effectively.

Because of Him:

I work with joy. My burdens are manageable. I am energized.

Because of Him:

I met my wife. My marriage has continued to be enriched.

Because of Him:

-My parents and myself and my children have been loved.

-I have come to know you, value you, care about you and be cared for by you.

-I have overcome distance between myself and others.

-I have been healed of much of my past pain which blocked me and misdirected me.

-Jesus Christ has connected me with the best friends I have and they are many.

Because of Him: I have a life to which I can look forward.

Because of Him: My world has meaning.

Unto me and unto you a child is born, a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulders.

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