The Revealed Way of the Lord
Fourth in a series of five
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 // Romans 16:25-27 // Luke 1:26-38
Dear friends in Christ,
The way of the Lord. For the last three weeks, we’ve been preparing for Christmas with our Sermon Series called the “Way of the Lord.” We started with the Faithful way, the Mighty way, last week was the peaceful way. Today is the Revealed way.
I’ll tell you this: I am a terrible baseball player. I can’t even say that. I am a terrible softball player – not that baseball is any less challenging than softball, but my softball career started and ended in fifth grade, of which I have two memories: first, I remember getting hit in the face with a flyball. Second, I remember that the only hit I ever had in a game was a little blooper to center field. I took my base and – this was a no-stealing league – I waited until the next guy got walked (or so I thought), went to take my base, and they ended up calling me out.
So, fast-forward to seminary school when I was once again attracted to softball, but this time because I had heard they grilled brats after the games and had adult beverages. So, I thought I’d shake the dust off of my softball swing and I wnet to Tower Tee, with a softball batting cage, and I started hitting some balls, and hitting, until one of my friends saw the baseball cage. He had played baseball in high school and started hitting at 70 or 80 mph. I decide to try. I get in the cage. I know what to do. I know where the ball is coming. I know how to swing. And still…. Miss.
The point is, The path of the ball was revealed. The actions I needed to take were clear. The prophecy of what would happen was simple. And still, there was a difference between knowing what was needed and living in it.
We go to our texts. Here we have a snapshot of the prophecies fulfilled, from 2 Samuel 7, and our first point is that the promises of God have been known for a long time.
The eternal God from long ages past unto ages and ages has made known all the things that he has done. The prophecy in the Garden of Eden is compounded by the blessing of Abraham, is compounded by the blessing of Judah, is made clear in the prophecy of Nathan, is amplified by the prophet Isaiah, is spoken again and again and again by the Pentateuch, by the prophets, by the Psalms, by the writings.
How unremarkable Jesus is. Jesus is the only normal person in this whole story, if you want to say it that way. He is the little baby born in the normal way, doing normal baby things. As a character in the story, he’s in the background, just growing and eating and sleeping. His actual birth in Luke 2 only takes half a verse.
Most of the story is everyone else that’s dealing with angels, that’s fleeing the country, that’s following stars, that’s believing dreams. How unremarkable it is, particularly for this reason, because it is such a mundane miracle that our God would come down to earth to be exactly who he is, to bear our sins and to be our savior. From this side of history, it is earth-shatteringly mundane that God would love, and that he would love so much that he would, while we were still enemies declare us right with him, that he would pour out the power of his Godhead so that we could be freed from sin.
It is the M.O. of our God that he works the most remarkable of miracles in the most unremarkable ways. It is in washing and words that the Holy Spirit enters our hearts. It is in the declaration of forgiveness that your chains are gone and you’ve been set free. It is in the eating and the drinking of bread and wine that the Body and Blood of your Savior are yours, so that you can receive unearthly peace and godly strength for the length of your days and beyond.
A way of open hands. I think of my Grandpa Utech. He’s lived more than half a decade since the death of my Grandma. He has, in my mind, aged as gracefully as a body could possibly age. He willingly sold his house. He willingly gave up his license. He has passed close to the valley of the shadow of death several times now, but I’ll tell you this. The most amazing thing that he’ll say, I had skipped over for years now.
The most amazing display of his Christian faith is when he talks about grandma. He says, “It still hurts. I still think about her everyday, and I just want to be with her. But I’ll be here as long as the Lord allows.”
Do you see the strength of his words? He holds his pain and his joy, and he holds them in open hands. He can be happy and sad at the same time. He can hold the good even as he suffers the bad. He says, as our vice-chair said this past Leadership Council meeting, “It is what it is.” Or better, as Paul writes, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Or perhaps best of all, God’s own words in Revelation chapter 21, when he says, “Behold, it is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” What remarkable strength there is in the ordinary life of a Christian underneath the cross, to know the One who is the beginning and the end, to know that all that is needful has been accomplished even as you make the journey!
Dear Christian friends, the living water that Christ holds out to us allows us to hold both our sorrow over this world’s sin and our joy in the work that Christ has already done. Our taste of the living water allows us to hurt with the pain of our suffering here, knowing that hope will not in the end disappoint. Our taste of the living water helps us to know that however much we have need and hunger and thirst in this body and in this life, we have the promise that in his time, our God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, that in the cross, he has won every battle that needed to be won, that our hunger and thirst for righteousness is satisfied.
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