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Frankincense; Jesus is God

Sermon Series:

Fit for a King

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
John 10:22-31


Words today is the day that the Lord has made so let us rejoice and be glad in it and everyone said Amen.

So, you know the thing about being an adult at christmas time as opposed to being a child is nobody asks you as an adult what you want for christmas Kids, it's the number one question. They get this time of year adults. We never get asked. What do you want for christmas? So here's what we're going to do. We're going to turn to your neighbor and ask them what do they want for Christmas? Go ahead and take a moment and do that. Lot of talking. I knew you wanted something. I knew you had something on that list. All right, so I'm willing to bet of all the gifts that you just heard that people wanted from around your circles and in your area of all the gifts that I think you heard about, I am willing to bet no one in here said, do you know what I'd really like for Christmas? Some frankincense. Willing to bet nobody said that. What I have here is actually, I have some frankincense here. It's incredibly hard to find. You can really only get it on Amazon, so it's, you know, it's, it's actually, for how much we talk about it and how much we venerate it it's fairly easy to find but we talk about it every Christmas because it's common knowledge I think even the world at large you don't have to be a churchgoer to know that the wise men visited the baby Jesus and they gave him gold and golden frankincense and myrrh and so you know we talked about frankincense a lot at Christmas time.

But here's the question, what actually is it? What is this stuff? So here's what frankincense is, it's actually, it's a resin. It's a hardened resin. And how you get it is you strike the bark of what's known as the Boswellia tree, I'm pretty sure I'm saying that right. Boswellia tree that's found in the Arabian Peninsula and as well as like Northeast Africa, you'll find these trees. And what you do is you strike the bark and the sap that oozes out, you let it ooze out and it gets hard. And when it gets hard, you chop it off the tree and that's frankincense.

Now in the ancient world, it was extremely expensive and it was a very, very expensive thing. And it was used in many different purposes, but primarily it was used in religious and ceremonial purposes. Now some would say that it was actually worth its weight in gold. It was a very expensive thing. And what you have at time is you have records of like leaders and like kings burning tremendous amounts of frankincense simply just to demonstrate their wealth. That they're so wealthy they could just burn this whenever they wanted. It was used again in religious purposes and ceremonial purposes. It was also used for embalming in ancient Egypt. And you'll find actually in King Tut's tomb, when they opened up King Tut's tomb, they found jars of frankincense.

You know, when we talk about frankincense, obviously we immediately think of the birth of Jesus, but it was mentioned in much more places in the Bible other than the birth of Jesus. In fact, you'll find the reference for frankincense a lot in the Old Testament, particularly the book of Leviticus. Now this is important because the book of Leviticus shows us how the ancient Israelites were to worship God. It was the worship instruction manual of the Old Testament. And you'll find many times where there's a call to burn frankincense as an offering to God. So you'd burn the stuff and the smoke would rise up in your worship to God.

But here's the other question I think that when you think about the gift given to Jesus, this gift given to Jesus kind of begs the question, was this a gift that you'd give to newborn babies in the ancient world? And the answer is no. This is not typically a gift you'd find on a baby's gift registry in the ancient world. But you have to remember, the wise men were not looking for just any old child. The wise men knew exactly who they were looking for. The wise men said they were looking for the newborn king. And so of course, these wise men came with kingly gifts. Gold, obviously a kingly gift. Frankincense and myrrh. Again, frankincense was highly expensive. Now myrrh, actually we'll look at myrrh next week. We're going to have a guest preacher with us, Pastor Kevin Harney will come and teach about myrrh. And I'm going to tell you now, it is fascinating, the place of myrrh in the arc of the life of Jesus. You will not want to miss next week's message.

But frankincense is an interesting gift that they gave to the newborn child. Yes, yes, because of its worth. But what Christians have done throughout the centuries, out of tradition, is we've looked at the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh as kind of symbolic to represent different aspects of who Jesus Christ is. Now the Bible doesn't make that direct connection with the gifts, but the things that we say the gifts point to are things that the Bible does teach about Jesus, that he is King. Gold means Jesus is King. Frankincense, as we're going to see today in probably the most controversial of all the messages frankincense in many ways reminds us and points that to the fact that Jesus Christ is God in the next week as we look at the place of murder again which is a fascinating study we'll see how mer points to Jesus as savior but this notion of Jesus as God is one of the most controversial messages that we could bring.

Now, a common question that I think often gets asked in religious circles, especially when we turn our attention to like evangelism, we'll ask a question like this. We'll say, who is Jesus Christ to you? Now, I'll be honest with you, I love and hate that question because in our culture, even with Christians, you're going to get so many different answers. He's my friend. He's Savior. He's a great religious teacher. He was a moral instructor. You'll get many different notions about who Jesus is. But I wonder, Christians in the house, with that question, who is Jesus, or even when you think about Christ, do you remember that Jesus is God?

So pop quiz pop quiz, I want you to answer this right away you don't get to think and you don't get to Google this Who won the World Series this year Yes Good job, my man, the Texas Rangers won the World Series this year. They beat the Diamondbacks four games to one. Pretty decisively, Texas Rangers were the World Series champs this past year. Now, does the question of who are the Texas Rangers to you really make any sense? In the sense of like, if I was to ask you, do you think the Texas Rangers are a good baseball team? It's kind of a meaningless question because they were the best team this past year. How do we know that? They won the World Series. So the notion of like, who are the Texas Rangers to you just really doesn't make any sense. Because we can tell you who the Texas Rangers are. They were the best baseball team last year and they were the World Series champs.

So when we come to this question of like, who is Jesus Christ to you? Listen to me. If Jesus Christ is God, with all due respect, it doesn't matter who he is to you. What matters is whether or not that statement is true, that Jesus is God. Because if Jesus is God, then that changes the conversation, puts it in an entirely different category. The notion of who is Jesus to you is meaningless in the face of the fact that Jesus is God. Who is Jesus to you? At this point, if Jesus is God, it doesn't matter because you're not the arbiter of who Jesus Christ is. At this point, it's simply upon you to recognize whether or not Christ is God or not. And so that's what we're looking at in our passage today. But before we get to that, I just want to make mention that this notion of Jesus Christ as God This isn't something Christians have thrust upon Jesus unwillingly This isn't something that the that Christians point to that the Bible doesn't say Jesus says this and scriptures reveal this that Jesus Christ is God In fact one of the most famous Christmas passages Tell us this right away in the first pages of the New Testament It says this in Matthew chapter 1 starting at verse 20 It says:

Matthew 1: 20-23

20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).

I'll be honest with you, I love that little add-on, which means God with us. I didn't put that in there, that's actually in scripture. Scripture takes precious space to actually clarify what Emmanuel means. It's like the Bible is saying, hey y'all, just to clarify here, so no one makes a mistake about this, Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit. What that means is he's not just the son of God. It means that he's actually God with us. He's Emmanuel, which means God with us. The Bible wants to make abundantly clear who Jesus is right from the moment of his birth, his conception.

See, in our world it's safe, it's so safe to talk about Jesus as the world's greatest example of love. It's easy to speak of Jesus as a truth-telling martyr. It's not safe and it's controversial to speak of Jesus as God, but I'm telling you faithful Christians, that's exactly the space that we need to be in. We're not the ones who seek out safe spaces. We go into the space where there's truth and that's an unsafe place. We go to the space where we tell people that Jesus is not just a kind, loving person. He is God incarnate. He is God in the flesh. He is Emmanuel, God with us. Christmas is not just a cute little story. Christmas is where God stepped into his own creation. So we're going to look at one of the clearest and best examples of Jesus saying that he is God. Would you please in your Bibles turn to John chapter 10. Now as you turn in there, a couple of quick things. If you want to smell what frankincense smells like, I'll have this up here if you want to come join us after join me after the service

But as you're turning to John chapter 10, I want to set the stage for you I want you to understand exactly what's happening in this little story. So here we are John chapter 10. Here's what's going on Jesus is in his third year of ministry his third and final year of ministry Actually, he's in his third year of ministry and he's at the height of his popularity. For the last three years, Jesus has gone about teaching truth. He's gone about performing miracles. He's saying what's going to be happening. Now, in all likelihood, Jesus Christ was crucified in the spring of 33 AD. And so this portion of scripture actually takes place in the winter before that. And as you're gonna see in a second, there's a festival that's mentioned. We know when that festival happens. And so in all likelihood, the passage that we are going to read happened during the week of December 18 in the year 32 AD in Jerusalem. I say this to you just to remind us all that when we read the scriptures, we're not just reading a religious text. You're reading real accounts of history, things that actually happened, and we have great detail surrounding this. And so, would you hear God's word?

John 10:22-31

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me,26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.

Amen, this is God's Word. Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray Father God in heaven above Lord We confess that we believe in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit three in one. And so Lord, we need you today to help us with this passage that we might be those who have the ears to hear such amazing truths about our King, our Savior and our God. And it's in his name that we pray these things. And everyone said, amen. Amen, so church, here we are week two of Advent. If I was gonna give you a main point for today, here's what I'd give to you, it's this.

Jesus is not just our King come to save us, he is our God with us.

And so to drive this point home, as we look at our passage today, I wanna pull out three things for you to be thinking about.

Jesus is clearly God because of...

1. What he did

2. What he said

3. What he risked.

1. Jesus is clearly God because of what He did

Okay, number one, Jesus is clearly God because of what He did. And what did Jesus do? Performed miracles, amazing miracles. So let's keep our Bibles open here this morning, go to verse 22. It says this, at that time, the feast of dedication took place in Jerusalem. Okay, so the feast of dedication. This is not an Old Testament festival. You will not find this recorded in the Old Testament. When Jesus celebrated this, this celebration was only about a couple hundred years old at this time. The Bible records it as calling it the Feast of Dedication, but it was also known as the Festival of Lights, which we more commonly call Hanukkah. So Jesus was in Jerusalem celebrating Hanukkah. Now look at this detail. Look at these little interesting details here. This can seem like such a flyover verse, but there's something really important going on here. End of verse 22 going in 23. It says it was winter. Jesus was walking in the temple in the colonnade of Solomon. Listen, I'm willing to bet you don't know the, the blueprint structure of the temple, but here's, I'll tell you the, the, the, the, the colonnade of Solomon was in a part of the temple that was covered. So it's interesting that the Bible mentions it was winter and Jesus was walking in the temple in the covered part.

It just has beautiful little details to help bring out the historicity of what's recorded here to remind us that we're not just reading abstract thoughts. We're reading a historical narrative. The writer here, John is telling us where this happened, when this happened, what the season was like, what the day was like. You could go and double check this. Was Jesus there at this time? Again, when you read the Bible, people remember you're not just reading a philosophical treatise. You're reading a historical account, account of something that actually happened that Jesus truly lived and walked and did these things. These, these details. I know that for us, Western Americans, we just like, this doesn't seem like an important stuff. The Bible is saying double check. It's citing its resource, it's citing what's happening and going on here.

And so let's continue. Now again, as we're going to read verses 24, 25, and 26, remember this happened in Jesus' third year of ministry. For three years, He's been preaching, teaching, prophesying, performing miracles. He's at the height of His popularity. There's a crowd following him. Verse 24 says, So the Jews gathered around him and said, How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. It's like they're saying to Jesus, Hey, man, we've been following you for three years. Would you just come out and say it already? And I love how Christ responds here. Verse I answered them, I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name bear witness about me.

So the Jews are like, Jesus, would you just say the words I am the Messiah? Would you just say the words I am the Christ? Would you just come out and say it already? And Jesus is like, have you not been watching me for the last three years? Have you not been listening? You haven't listened to what I've said? You haven't seen what I've done? Who else do you think I am? What else could I do? I've told you, I've performed miracles, I've done it all. Listen, Jesus has fed the 5,000, he's cast out demons, he's raised people from the dead, and not only this, he's done teachings about who he is.

And as you read the story, I'll tell you right now, I was reminded of, and I think this reminds us something about people. People will never believe what they don't want to hear. They've seen it, they've heard it, and they still won't believe. People will never believe what they don't want to hear. Listen, I know, I could give you lots of examples from our culture right now about people and groups of people that just won't believe the truth. I don't want to distract us, but I can tell you right now that people are people, whether they are first century Jews or 21st century Americans. We have thick skulls and it's almost impossible to change someone's mind once they have it set in stone.

And so here's what I'm going to challenge you on right now. Don't be thinking about someone else. Don't be thinking about another group of people or don't be thinking about anyone other than yourself right now. I want you to look in a mirror right now and think to yourself, what would it take to change your mind once you've been fully convinced of something? Is your mind so easily changed? People will never believe what they don't want to hear.

We need to be the people whose minds, whose hearts, whose lives, whose worldviews will be changed by truth.

And truth is so abundant, but yet so many people just cast it off because they're already committed to what they want to believe. Jesus is saying to this crowd and he's saying to us, he's saying, I've said it. And more than that, I've shown it. I've done miracles in the name of God, miracles that show you everything you need to know that I am the Christ. I am the Messiah. Jesus is clearly God because of what he did.

2. Jesus is clearly God because of what He said

And secondly, Jesus is clearly God because of what he said. And what has Jesus said? I'll tell you right now. Jesus has made truth claims. The type of truth claims you don't get to walk back from. Look at verses 26 to 29. Jesus says, but you do not believe because you're not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My father who has given them to me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of my father's hand. I'm gonna take a moment and help us to understand the incredible weight of what Jesus just said. Jesus, again, made truth claims right here that you cannot walk back from. Let's summarize. Verse 26 and 27, Jesus just said, "'If you don't believe me, "'it's because you don't belong to me.'" Whoa, I thought this was this ever-loving, all-inclusive hippie. What do you mean if you don't believe him, that means because you don't belong to him. Verse 28, Jesus just promised eternal life. Listen people, you don't get to say that unless it's true. You don't get to say that and be mistaken about that. That is too weighty of a term, of a claim. You don't get to be mistaken about this.

And then look at verse 29. Jesus equated his work with God's work. And add to that, he just claimed God as his personal father in ways that entangled his work and God's work, making them indistinguishable. And by that, promising eternal life that could never be taken away. You don't get to make claims like this and be wrong about it and still be seen as a good person. So let me make this clear. Jesus Christ cannot simply be a good guy. Why? Because you don't get to say the things that Jesus said and those things not be true. If Jesus was lying, this makes him one of the worst people to have ever lived. You don't get to promise eternal life to people who follow you unless you can truly offer it. You don't get to equate your work with God's work unless it's actually true. If Jesus Christ is not God, if Jesus Christ is not God, then let me tell you something about the cross that he died on. A horrendous death, by the way. If Jesus Christ was not God, then on the cross, he got what he deserved. If you're lying about that, you deserve to die for the claims you just made.

3. Jesus is clearly God because of what He risked

If Jesus Christ is not God, all time or was he God well I think Jesus is clearly God because of what he said because of what he did but also because of what he was willing to risk what did Jesus risk everything what did Jesus give up everything he laid it all I think one of the great things that we have here in America is freedom of speech. It's one of our great freedoms that we have, where supposedly there's nothing that we can say that is going to get us the death penalty. And so what that means is, for as beautiful as it is, I think it needs to be defended. But what this means is that for us as a people, we don't necessarily have to think about sticking by our words to the point of death. No one's worried about saying something that they actually have to hold on to, to the point of your own death, or not just the things you say, but the things you post.

But in Jesus' day, you could be killed on the spot for saying the wrong thing. Listen to me, killed on the spot, not after a fair trial against your peers, on the spot. You could be killed on the spot for saying the wrong thing. And so if you were going to say something that could get you killed in Jesus' day, well, then I guess you actually really believed it. You believed in it too. Look at verse 30 and 31. Jesus said, I and the Father are one. Jews picked up their stones again to stone him. So follow this. The crowd went from impatiently waiting for Jesus to say he was the Savior, and what did he just say? He doubled down, said, Savior, I'll do you one better. I am God. Jesus just said, I am God, and they went from excited anticipation to murderous anger in a second. Why? Because they knew exactly what Jesus just said.

See, we have a different way of thinking about things. We're like, well, Jesus didn't say the words, I am God, so therefore he didn't say that. That's a faulty way of thinking from our broken worldview. The Jews knew exactly what Jesus just said and the most profound way Jesus just claimed himself to be God Jesus said that he and the father are one what they heard they heard correctly and what they heard to their ears was straight-up blasphemy this guy just claimed to be God and they're going to kill him for it now notice notice though notice Jesus did not say, I am the Father. Notice Jesus didn't say, I and the Father are the same thing. Rather, he said, I and the Father are one. One God and Father and Son. And as we see later develop through the pages of scripture, as theology is continued to be brought to light through scripture, the Holy Spirit completes the Trinity. One God in three, Father, Son, and Spirit.

Now listen, I will tell you this right now. The doctrine of the Trinity, the theological understanding of the Trinity, how there's one God in three, we'll never fully understand that. That is without question the hardest doctrine to understand in all of the Christian faith. I had a conversation with a kindergartner the other day about this, and I was like, I don't even fully understand it. Because the reality is, is that we are three-dimensional beings. How in the world are we gonna fully understand a infinitely dimensional God? So what we do is we take what the scripture has said and that's what we believe, even though we may not have the entire capacity to understand it. Jesus didn't say, I am the Father. He didn't say, I am the Father of the same thing. He said, I and the Father are one. Again, alluding to the doctrine of the Trinity, one God in three, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But make no mistake, Jesus just claimed to be God and the Jews were ready to kill him on the spot for it. Now remember this this story takes place in December. Jesus knew his time to die had not yet come. It was to come that spring. And so Jesus avoids his death, at least for now in this story. But this passage reminds us that Jesus is clearly God because of what he did, because of what he said, and because what he was willing to risk.

And if this wasn't enough, because we have the full, complete pages of Scripture, the final proof we have is the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is the final proof that Jesus Christ is God, that our Emmanuel did come and died in our place, and three days later, he rose again from the dead. Church, Easter shows us that Jesus is God, and Christmas reminds us that Jesus is God with us. Jesus is not just our King come to save us, He's our God with us.

My daughter, because she's awesome, she did ask her daddy the other day what I wanted for Christmas. And I gave her the typical dad answer and I just said, you know girl, I just want time with you and your siblings and your mom. That's what I want. I just want time with family. And she said, oh, come on, dad. There must be something that you really want or something that you need. You know what? I gave her another dead answer. This time I add a little bit of a flex to it. I just said, you know, girl, at my stage of life, if I need something, I just go and get it. You laugh, but dad, is that not the truth? I just don't get it, you know, but here's what I tell you about Christmas. Christmas tells us and shows us something and helps us understand something about the gospel. See, what we need, all of us, what we need most in life is to be saved from our sins because our sins separate us from our Father. Our sins separate us from God. What we need most is to be reconciled to God, for our sins to be removed and us to be brought back to our Father.

And I'm gonna say something to us all, but especially to the men in the room. You cannot earn this. You cannot buy this. You cannot work for this. Salvation in Jesus' name is a gift to be received. There's nothing you can do to earn this. God in his infinite mercy, love and grace has to give it to us. And Christmas reminds us that our salvation can only be given to us. This is why we call it grace. Grace is receiving something you cannot earn or do not deserve. It's a gift. And did you know, biblically speaking, the word for grace and the word for gift are connected. So here we are in week two of Advent, and I want to give us all an Advent application, something to be encouraged by as we journey towards Christmas. No grand challenge today. No go out and do something. Right now, at this point, for us all, I want you just to hear and be reminded of the great gift of Christmas, and let that encourage your heart. Let that fuel your celebrations. Let that remind you what it truly is, the Christmas spirit.

So here's what I'd say to you. For whatever you want for Christmas, Emmanuel, God with us, the greatest gift is already given to you. Did you know that the most popular Bible verse of all time is actually a straight up Christmas verse. John 3.16 says this, for God so loved the world that he, what's the next word? That he gave. There it is. The greatest gift you could already be given, you've already been given. The greatest gift you could be given, you've already be given. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." There it is. For God already gave to you the greatest thing that you could possibly need. And what is the greatest thing there is? Well, it's God Himself. And so the greatest gift God gave you was Himself.

You've received the greatest possible gift, Emmanuel, God with us. And not only that, the gift of salvation with it. Church, Christians, this Christmas, do not forget what we are actually celebrating. You are celebrating the fact that you have already received the best Christmas gift imaginable, God himself to be with us, to save us.

You know, this is one of the most true things that I could possibly tell you, that for whatever you want for Christmas, Emmanuel, God with us, the greatest gift, is a gift already given to you. I know, it sounds so hallmarky, but it's true. And so church, this Christmas, remember that Jesus is not just our King come to save us. He is our God with us. He is our God given to us. He is our God with us. And so this Christmas, when you think about frankincense and again, come on up and smell some, if you've never gotten a chance yet, when you think about frankincense, frankincense, let it remind you of what child this actually is, what child it is that you're actually celebrating. You are celebrating the gift of Emmanuel God with us Amen, would you please stand?

Just please bow your heads Father we come before you would you just ask God that your spirit would be with us now Holy Spirit You are the third member of the Trinity. We ask that you'd fill this place. You'd fill our lungs with the breath to praise you Father, we are thankful for the greatest gift. You've already given to us in the gift of your son, Emmanuel, our God with us. And so, Father, as we sing the words of what child is this, Father, I pray that we are reminded that this child is our King. He is our Savior and he is our God. And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

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