Grace for All of Us

Steve Viars December 24, 2015 Matthew 1:6

Steve Harvey has been the host of the Family Feud Game Show for many years now. You probably know where this is going? He is known in part for making hilarious responses to contestants who say something in the heat of the moment that let's just say it doesn't always come out right. It doesn't always come out right. It's all in good fun. That's kind of the point of the show to see how well your mind works under pressure. How sometimes that the first answer that comes out, it makes you look a bit foolish in retrospect. That came back on Mr. Harvey in an unbelievable way this past Sunday night when he was hosting the Ms. Universe Pageant. Many of us didn't see that live because we were serving out in our church as Living Nativity, or if you weren't, you're watching a football game, or doing about a thousand other things than watching a beauty pageant. I understand that.

In case you've been living on a different planet in the last week, let me just inform you that last Sunday night, Steve Harvey crowned the wrong person. He announced Ms. Colombia was the winner, went through the process of crowning her, and 4-1/2 minutes later had to correct himself and say that the winner was actually Ms. Philippines. In fairness to him we all make mistakes, right? In fact as soon as I heard that I thought I could so see myself doing that. He also owned his mistake. He handled it in a very classy fashion. I think a lot of good has come from that entire event, but the fact remains at the most important part of the pageant he crowned the wrong queen. Now, here's a question. What if you or I did that not at a beauty pageant and not in a way that had no significant consequence like last Sunday evening? What if you and I, what if we crown the wrong king and what if the consequences were eternal?

You might say, "Well, how so?" We've all crowned a king on several levels. Did you know that? For example, regarding our eternal destiny where we're all following something. We're all trusting something. In our hearts we have said, "Here's what's going to happen. One second after I draw my last breath on Earth, I'm trusting that. I'm trusting him. I'm trusting her." Whether you've ever thought about it in those terms or not, we've all crowned someone, or something to be in charge of our eternal destiny. I hope we selected the right king. Then there's the issue of our growth. Are we supposed to be changing? Are we supposed to be different this Christmas compared to last Christmas? Who's in charge of that? Who gets to decide the ways we're supposed to be changing? Who gets to decide the pace that which we're supposed to be changing. Who is the king of all of that?

Then there's the issue of serving or lack thereof. Are we supposed to surround ourselves with people who exist to do our bidding, or is there a different approach we're supposed to take? See, when Steve Harvey got it wrong, it was shocking. Then it was sad. Then it was funny. What if you or I get it wrong? One of the messages of the scriptures that Jesus Christ came as mankind's rightful king. He said as much before Pilate when he affirmed, "You say correctly that I am a king." How much clearer could it be than that? "For this I have been born," Jesus said, "and for this I have come into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." You might remember Pilate's unfortunate response by the way when he responded by saying, "What is truth?" There's a man well on his way to crowning the wrong king and not believing in the existence of truth.

In this particular case by the way, allowing the rightful king to be mockingly crowned in a despicable manner. Do you remember what happened next in that text? Pilate then took Jesus and scourged him. The soldiers twisted together what? A crown of thorns and put it on his head, and put a purple robe on him. Then began to come up to him and say, "Hail, King of the Jews." Then gave him slaps in the face. What an amazing picture of spiritually blind rebellious people refusing to acknowledge Christ as their king. However, Jesus doesn't ask any of us to crown him without evidence. Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy. A birth line to demonstrate to their Jewish readers that Christ is the Messiah that is promised all throughout the Old Testament. Even a cursory reading of Matthew's genealogy demonstrates there's something amazing about this king. As the Apostle John would later teach, this king was full of grace and truth.

A couple of verses later John said, throughout his fullness speaking of Jesus, the one whose birth we're celebrating. Throughout his fullness we have all received and what? Grace on top of grace, on top of grace. Friends that even shows up in Jesus's genealogy. There's grace in the genealogy of this king. Here's the way it reads starting in Matthew 1:1. "The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham." That's the summary statement. Meaning if Jesus can trace his line through King David and through Father Abraham, he meets some of the most important Old Testament test for Messiahship. Then the next verses expand that family tree and it tell us a lot more about this king. When we read this, Abraham begat Isaac. Isaac begat Jacob. Jacob begat Judah and his brothers. Judah begat Perez and Zerah by Tamar.

What? By Tamar. What would have immediately stood out to Matthew's readers were the words by Tamar. He would not normally have noticed or had a woman's name in a Jewish genealogy. You noticed with all the other lines that were mentioned, the other generations that were mentioned that the mom was not there. Most importantly if you know your bible, you know the story of Tamar. It's one of the most scandalous events in all of Israel's history. Here's the message. That God has grace for her. God placed Tamar in the line of the Messiah though she had been terribly oppressed. Yes, Jesus was a king but a king like no other. He was a king of grace. Friends, that's the kind of king you want to crown.

That thing continues in next verse. We read. Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon. Salmon begat Boaz by Rahab. Even a casual reader would now be getting Matthew's point. Who is Rahab? Rahab was the gentile prostitute who hid the Jewish spies prior to them entering the Promised Land. Again, the other mothers and the other generations were not named. Matthew wants us to understand something about this king. Rahab, the bible tells us believed God. That's clear in her story. The king had enough grace to include her in his lineage. Right around the corner there's a third woman and by now undoubtedly the anticipation on the part of the reader is growing. Who's going to be the next woman in the line and why would she be named? What does that tell us about this king in the very next phrase?

Boaz begat Obed by Ruth. You have to believe that the readers would have been stunned by this point because Ruth had everything going against her. She lived during the time of the Judges, a low point in the history of Israel where everybody was doing that which was right in their own eyes. She lived during a time of incredible famine. Her husband, her father-in-law, her brother-in-law had all died. Her mother-in-law was incredibly bitter. The worst thing of all, she was a Moabitess. She was a foreigner from a wicked nation which was the arch enemy of Israel. Yet the book that's titled after her name, tells a story of her great faith. When she said to this bitter Jewish mother-in-law, "Your people will be my people and your God will be my God."

Matthew says this baby king has more than enough grace for her, for people like Tamar, for people like Rahab, for people like Ruth. If you're going to put your crown somewhere perhaps it should be on his head. Who was the next woman mentioned in the line of Christ. Do you know? Here's what the scripture tells us amazingly. Jesse begat David the King. David the King begat Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah. You might say who was that? Who was that? That was Bathsheba. I realized in some of the modern English versions of the bible, they go ahead and specifically named her. It's not in the original text. The Greek literally reads this, "Her of Uriah" to remind the readers of the scandalous thing that David had done to her and her husband. Yet, Jesus had grace even for them.

The few minutes we have remaining, think about David and Bathsheba and three ways in which we can and should crown Jesus as our rightful king.

I. Crown Jesus in Your Salvation

First of all friends crown Jesus in your salvation. I recognized we'll have men and women who are with us tonight, you wouldn't know the story of David and Bathsheba at all. I understand that. I want you to know we're really glad you're here; really glad you're here. I also understand that we have children who [will be, 00:11:57] some in this particular service tonight. Let me just say it like this both for sake of time and also propriety. Here's the story in a nutshell. David was the King of Israel who wrote many of the great psalms, clearly a godly man. We call him the sweet singer of Israel. The New Testament refers to David as a man after God's own heart. Even more importantly, he was the recipient of the Davidic covenant in 2 Chronicles chapter 7. Where the Lord promised him that the Messiah would come through his line which is one of the many reasons David was such a revered figure to the Jewish nation.

He also had an incredible moral lapse when the bible tells us that at the time when kings would typically go to war, that David was on his rooftop and he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing. The scripture says very specifically in 2 Samuel chapter 11, "David took her." That's the verb that's used. David took her and he had physical relations with her. Bathsheba conceived a child. Even more despicable is what David did next. He tried to trick Bathsheba's husband Uriah into coming home so he would eventually think that the baby was his own. When Uriah refused to go into his wife because of his loyalty to his men out fighting in the field, David arranged for Uriah to be placed at the frontline. Then for the other soldiers to back away from the battle so that Uriah would be killed.

I realized some might say tonight, "We'll Merry Christmas to you too Pastor Viars." You might not think it's a very appropriate story for Christmas but apparently Matthew thought that it was. See, the birth of Jesus makes little sense a part from understanding why he had to come. Bathsheba's inclusion in Christ lineage reminds us that even the best human being falls short of God's standard of holiness. The New Testament proclaims it like this, "For all have sinned." Are you able to locate yourself somewhere in that verse? "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Here's what that means. If the crown is on your head, it will certainly topple. One of the great misconceptions regarding eternity is the belief that God grades on a curse. That human beings can earn their way to heaven on the basis of their own works, their own effort, their own goodness. Friend if that was the case, why did Jesus have to come? What was the point of Christmas?

Remember what the angel told Joseph [inaudible 00:15:10] Just the few verses after this genealogy that we've been thinking about. In Matthew 1:18, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together. She was found with child of the Holy Spirit." Then Joseph her husband, being a what? Remember that. A just man, and not wanting to make her a public example was minded to just put her away secretly. While he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bring forth a son; and you shall call his name." Everybody else will need him but I don't because I'm a just man. Oh, no. You'll call his name Jesus. Jehovah saves for he will save his people including you Joseph from their sins. Please don't miss the important juxtaposition there. That Joseph, yes, was a righteous man, but he wasn't a perfect man.

He too needed a gracious king who would be named Jesus, Jehovah saves; who would save his people from their sins. The more I thought about this Steve Harvey story, the more I wondered who was in the hardest position? Was it Ms. Colombia who was crowned and then 4-1/2 minutes later, realized she hadn't won, or Ms. Philippines, or Steve Harvey? I don't you about you. It seems to me the hardest position would be the one wearing the crown. Then, realizing it didn't belong to you. How in the world do you gracefully take it off? I wonder if we'll have people with us tonight. I love you which is why I'm going to try to pass to you really directly right now, okay? I do wonder how many people would be with us tonight who have essentially crowned themselves believing that you could earn your own way to heaven? Learn a lesson from a genealogy, we all fall short even great king David. It's wisest to remove the crown, to admit your need. Then to place the crown on the Messiah's head trusting him as your savior and your Lord.

One of the things I love about being a pastor is just watching God draw men and women to himself. We've seen that all year long. We're so thankful that God is a redeeming God. We're thankful that he has given us the privilege of living and proclaiming the gospel. We're so thankful to see him draw men and women to himself. I mentioned the Living Nativity a moment ago. A number of people indicated to us that they placed their faith and trust in Christ. Last Sunday I was speaking from that marvelous story of Ruth. A dear woman came up to me after church and said, "I'm your next Ruth. I'm the person who has just lived under incredible hardship, but I've been trying to handle it on my own. I'm ready to trust Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord. I'm ready to say he will be my God. He is the one who is going to be the one I'm trusting in for my salvation."

I would just ask you tonight in the quietness of this moment if you don't know that you know, that you know, that you're on your way to heaven? Why not decide to do that right now? You see the crown, it's hard to get it off. Wise people take it off if it doesn't belong on their head. Then I would say to you, "Tell someone." Because I'm just going to tell you, you probably got some friends in your life, you probably got some loved ones in your life, they've been praying like crazy for you. They just have. They'd give anything to see you place your faith and trust in Christ. Listen, I'm really going to pass to you right now and I'm totally off my notes which is a dangerous place. Some of you are so stubborn. You're just stubborn. Why not trust Christ while you have the opportunity to do so? Then go home tonight and tell your loved ones that you did.

I'll tell you this. They'll throw you a party because the bible says, "There'll be a party going on in heaven when you do that." You can take back all the rest of the gifts you bought for them because they're not even going to want them. Once you tell them that there's nothing better you could possibly give them.

II. Crown Jesus in Your Sanctification

Secondly, crown Jesus in your sanctification. Part of the great news of the Gospel of Matthew is that this gracious king can dramatically change the course of your life. We've been looking at one list that is the lineage of Christ. Did you know Matthew has another list later in his book? That is the list of the apostles including himself. Look how he says it. Matthew 10:2. "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

What's unusual about that list? For one thing he mentions only the occupation of one man. Who? Himself. It was a scandalous profession. His Jewish audience by and large would have absolutely hated anyone who collected taxes for the Roman government especially using the deceptive practices that were so common during that day. Don't you know that Matthew, that the former tax collector was glad for the stories Tamar, and glad for the stories of Rahab, and glad for the stories of Ruth, and Bathsheba, and David because if the king had grace for them, the king had grace for him. Where he could go from being a wicked tax collector to being an apostle of Jesus Christ. That my friends requires the transforming work of a very gracious and powerful king. That's why Jesus made it clear it requires a lifestyle of saying, "No to self and yes to your king", the one on whom you've placed the crown.

Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me as the king." That's another mistake that some people make believing they have a relationship with Christ. There's no demonstrable change. That there's no fruit. There's no evidence. In practical terms of everyday living, they're their own king. They do what they want to do. Friends whatever that is, that's not biblical Christianity. The apostle Paul said, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a ..." What? A new creature. The old things have passed away. The whole new things have come. This gracious king will meet you wherever you are. That's good new isn't it? He has no intention of leaving you there. That's even better news.

Since last Sunday night there's so many memes that have come out about the Steve Harvey thing. Steve Harvey announces the winner of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Sometimes crowning the wrong thing can be funny. Having the wrong king when it comes to the direction of your life, when it comes to the matter of how you're going to be changing, and why you're going to be changing, and into what you're going to be changing. That's terribly serious. Christmas can be a great time for reflection on what's occurred over the past 12 months. One of the things that encourages me is to have had the privilege of watching a number of men and women that God has drawn to himself. Over the last 12 months there has been dramatic change. There has been dramatic growth. See, they've crowned Christ as the Lord of their lives. They're learning what it means to live for him, and live by him, and live through him each and every day.

The Gospel is not just a message to be believed and then forgotten that approached to life, the results, and powerful, and practical life change. As you can imagine I get a fair amount of mail. I'm glad for that. I'm glad for most of that. In anyway, one of my favorite letters this year was from an elderly woman who's just recently come to Christ. In case you wondered, does God saved those who are older? He says, "Anyone who will admit their sin and place their faith and trust in Christ." That there's nothing a person could put on the table that would cause the Lord to say there's no hope for you. Tell that to Rahab. Tell that to Tamar. Tell that to Bathsheba or David. Tell that to any of the persons listed in this genealogy.

This elderly woman heard the Gospel. She placed her faith and trust in Christ. She said, "You know, I've got a lot of things in my past that are just all messed up." We were able to put a book into her hands that unpacks what the word of God has to say about how to handle your past. About how God's word has practical answers for everyday living. Just a Sunday or so ago she put a note in my hand; actually a stack of papers and just asked me to read them later. It was with a chapter by chapter summary of that book. She was taking the truth from the word of God and applying that to various aspects of her life. I can't tell you the amount of joy that she now has in her heart. Why? Because Jesus is her king. Jesus deserves to be her king. What she's finding it, he's not just a king. He's a good king. He's one that is worthy of her allegiance.

III. Crown Jesus in Your Service

Crown Jesus in your salvation, crown Jesus in your sanctification, and lastly crown Jesus in your service. Matthew also records these marvelous words. Jesus call them to himself and said "You know that the rules of the gentile, they lorded over them and their great men exercise authority over them. It's not this way among you. Whoever wishes to become great among you, should be your servant. Whoever wishes to be first among you should be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many." Sometimes that's in the midst of great suffering. There's a lot about Bathsheba's story that we just don't know. That David mistreated her in ways that we're absolutely despicable. Yet, she became the mother of the wisest men who ever lived except Jesus himself; serving the king even when it's hard.

We have a number of men and women in our church family right now who are, they're walking through periods of significant suffering. I hope you'll especially pray for them during the holidays. We also wanted to remind ourselves tonight of our military personnel. There'll be family, some even in this room who have a loved one, a son, or a daughter, a loved one of some other relation who won't be at the Christmas table tomorrow because they're out in some dangerous part of the world trying to promote and protect freedom. I hope we'll pray for them as they follow and serve the king in very difficult times. Our missionaries are away from their families and facing hardship at Christmas time. Men and women who are still serving their king even when it's hard doing what our church family has been focusing on all year.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. It's also been a delight for me as a pastor. As I think back over this last year to think about the many men and women in this church who just love to serve their king. They love it. They absolutely love it. My dad is at a restaurant the other night picking up some food. There was a woman from our church behind me in line. I was talking to her about her Christmas plans. Then she said, "Oh yeah. The week before Christmas we're going to be out in this state with that side of the family. Then the second week, we're going to be at another part of the country with the other side of the family, but Sunday we'll be back in Lafayette." I said, "Really? Why?" She said because I've got [nurse on duty 00:29:05]. There's some diapers that need to be changed and them I'm going to be at my post.

Isn't that amazing that people would love the king that much that they would even organize their life and their travels around opportunities to serve? Many of us just had the opportunity to serve in the Living Nativity. Majority of the people in this church probably did that. You're probably a little sore still from doing it. What a [hoot 00:29:32] that is? I stand out there in the parking lot with our family and you could hear members of this church laughing and sometimes uncontrollably while they serve the Lord outside in December. See, it's not just a matter of serving. When you're serving the person who deserves the crown, that there's joy that comes from that. That's why the angel said this, "Don't be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Friend, if you've been like Steve Harvey either in your salvation, or in your sanctification, or in your service, do what he did. Admit the error and put the crown where it truly belongs. Let's pray together, shall we?

Father in heaven, we thank you for the opportunity to be together tonight. Lord, I thank you for those men and women who will be here tonight and they're celebrating their first Christmas as followers of Jesus. Thank you that you are a king of grace. Lord, I thank you for those who would be able to look back over this year and see demonstrable change because they're learning what it means for Christ to be their king. Lord, thank you for those who served so well and they do it because they love serving the king. Lord, we want to praise you for the birth of this king of grace. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video