Sermon – Jesus in a World of Arthur Aged 6 and Star Aged 16 Months (Matthew 2:1 – 2:18) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Jesus in a World of Arthur Aged 6 and Star Aged 16 Months

Pete Woodcock, Matthew 2:1 - 2:18, 19 December 2021

As we look forward to Christmas we are reminded that Jesus comes into a world of pain and suffering to redeem it. Pete preaches from Matthew 2:1-18. These verses retell the circumstances around Jesus' birth and we see how this relates to our times today.

Song - Coventry Carol
Artist - Pentatonix
Licensed by SME (on behalf of RCA Records Label); LatinAutor - SonyATV, BMI - Broadcast Music Inc., SOLAR Music Rights Management, ASCAP, Sony ATV Publishing, CMRRA, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA - UBEM, LatinAutorPerf, and 11 Music Rights Societies

Matthew 2:1 - 2:18

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

  “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
  for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18   “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
  Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Okay. We're going to have our reading now. And we'll sing a song before Pete comes up. But reading is from Matthew 2, and I'm going to read from verses 1 to 18.

Matthew chapter 2 versus 1 to 'eighteen. After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Jude, during the time of King Herrod, Major from the East came to Jerusalem and asked Where is the 1 who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. When King Herrod heard this, he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chiefs and teachers priests and teachers of the law, He asked them where the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea, they replied.

For this is what the prophet has written. But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for else of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Then herod called the magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me so that I too may go and worship him.

After they'd heard the king, they went on their way and the star they had seen when it rose, went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herrod, they returned to their country by another route.

When they had gone, an angel of the lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Guess up, he said. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for herod is going to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of herod.

And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet out of Egypt, I called my son. When herod realized that he had been outwitted by the magi. He was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under in accordance with the time he had learned from the magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. A voices heard in Ramma, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted because they are no more.

Well, welcome. My name is Pete Woodcock. I'm the pastor of the church here. It's great to great to have you with us for those online as well. Good to have you with us.

Please, can I encourage you to to come to Cambrey Gardens just by the river, you'll find the bandstand there? It's gonna be a really great thing. We've got no electricity, you know, we're gonna have a band there without any electricity, but it's gonna it's it's gonna be worth worth doing just to proclaim in this day. The good news of Christ and let let let's let's really go for it. So try and get there at 4 ish, we're gonna start at 4 30 or only be an hour.

Let me pray for us now. Father help us now, please, in all of distractions that go on in our minds and our hearts, and around us perhaps, please help us by your grace to hear your word, by your spirit, that we may be doers of your word as well, not just heroes. We pray in Jesus' name, Arm. Now I think we have to be careful around Christmas time. And we've got to be careful not to make the first Christmas like a safe Christmas card.

Because it wasn't. You know, the world of nice sheep and cuddly angels and robbins and family fun and feasting and stuff like that. We've got to be careful not to turn the Christmas story or the Jesus story in something that's just very nice and it's nice to have a day off the world if you like to sort of celebrate it, but it's It's just nice, but it doesn't really, really relate to to the world that we're in. And even some of the poetry in our Christmas carols that we sing and I know it's poetry and we we've got to understand that. But sometimes it makes that extraordinary good news of great joy into something a little bit sentimental.

We need to be careful of that. It's almost like a warm religious bath or a warm religious scene that is meant to take us up and out of the real world. You know, it's a sort of another world of angels coming and the son of God in a sort of bubble of other worldliness. Away in a manger. The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing. The baby awakes but little lord Jesus no crying he makes. Now, I understand that's poetry and it's poetry for children. And I'm not saying we can't sing that, but that's just not my world is it? No crying he makes who's ever had a baby.

That no crying they make. I mean, it's a story, silent night, holy night. All is calm. All is bright, round you on virgin, mother and child, holy infants, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sleep in heavenly place. Now, it's nice, that world and it takes us up into a sort of fairy tail land for a moment and away from the pain of COVID and death and violence and murder. And people are saying, aren't they? We need Christmas this year more than any other year more than ever. We Because we want something to take us away from the dreadful world that we've had for 2 years for the for the fear and the death and we wanna be taken up and out of this world.

And in 1 sense, I understand that. And to have a day off, if you like, from the pain of the world and feast and sort of put our worries to aside, I I get that. We want that. But that is not the good news of great joy that we need. We need good news of great joy that comes into our real world, not a day off world.

We need a real savior, a real risk to come into a dark world of COVID and death. We need a real savior to come into a world that outdoes itself in depravity, where we see parents involved in torturing their own children. We need a real savior there. A world where a 6 year old Arthur and a 16 month star were the next victims of brutal murder by their own parents. A world where another knife victim, just up the road on Wednesday night in our own town.

Was killed by a knife. A world where men burst into schools and gunned down children It's very hard to rejoice and be merry when we look at the real world we're in, unless we just take a day off. Into a bubble world. But the first Christmas 2000 years ago, was a real world. You've got the magi coming to herod.

We've just read the story. Trying to find out where this new king Jesus is going to be born, saying to the magi, when you find out come back and tell me but they're told by God not to come back and tell him, and he's furious. And look at verse 16 of Matthew chapter 2. When herod realized that he was outwitted by the magi or the the wise men or the 3 kings, whatever you want to call them, he was furious and he gave orders. Listen.

He gave orders to kill all the boys in Jerusalem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under. This is the world that the son of God comes into. This is the world that the light of life chooses to come into. If the things of Arthur and Star that we've been hearing about in the last couple of weeks disturb us and horrify us, How do you think God feels about that? The holy pure God of love.

How do you think he thinks? Who calls himself father? How do you think he feels when parents do that to children? If we're disturbed, isn't he more infinitely disturbed, and yet it's that world. This world that he chose to come into.

This world, he chose to come into to bring good news of great joy. When herod realized that he had been outwitted by the magi, he was furious and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under. That's a Christmas story to tell, isn't it? The horror of all the babies in Jerusalem in that area being killed by the officials. Children torn from their parents' arms.

Can you imagine it? Soldiers with fresh blood on their swords blood of a child, fathers, grandfathers, grandparents, doing their best to hide the children as the soldiers come and protect them and shout out and probably perhaps dying themselves to try to save the lives of the innocent, bending over dead corpses. That was Bethlehem's first Christmas. 2 years old and under. Massive.

You never get that on a Christmas card, and you never get that in Christmas activities. And understandably so, I understand that. A little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie? Isn't it o Little town of Bethlehem How deep we hear you cry? There is no deep and dreamless sleep here.

Bethlehem's awake and wailing. Look at verses 17 and 18. Of Matthew 2. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. A voice is heard in Rama, weeping and great mourning Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they're because they were no more.

The sound of wailing and lamentation and sobs and tears is just filling the air. Now this is after all the astonishing announcements that the angel made to Mary and Joseph. I I don't know we need to get these emotions here because they're life changing emotions when the angel came to Mary and said that you a virgin are gonna be with child. Just think of the shame of having a child without being married and all of the confusion and complications and the the fear and the wonder and the joy, all mixed up. This is after they had to travel to to Bethlehem and being unable to find a place to to give birth in and yet in the end they find found a cattle trough to put the baby in.

This is after the weird event of Shepard coming to see this little baby. And start saying that he's Christ the Lord and he brings good news of great joy. This is after the May joy come from afar these strange men from a distant country, breathes such treasures of gold and frankincense and myrrh, all those emotions of joy and confusion and what's this about and what's going on and and and and fear and then suddenly now the emotion of weeping and morning. That's what the first Christmas felt like. It's never the Christmas of the bentle Center with those horrible singing bears.

Thankfully, they've they've been around for so long they're broken and I don't think they can sing anymore. But still, I've asked the brothers every year to boot them to pieces because they're offensive to Christmas. But anyway, let's forget that. The Bible doesn't run run away from pain, you see. The Christmas of the Bible involves the great gift of his son coming into the world but coming into not a bubble world where it was all nice and fun but a world that is bitter and dangerous and disappointing and violent and where people torture their own children.

It's a wondrous gift to the world, a world where some will worship Jesus like the magi. And some will want him dead like herod. Good news of great joy in a world of weeping and great mourning. That's the reality. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were 2 years old and under.

These were people that Mary and Joseph would have known. You know what it's like when you have a baby? You go to the synagogue and all the other babies are there. You're all talking about baby things. You know what it's like?

They would know these kids. They were babies born at the same time as their own son. Jesus probably played with them. It must have been absolutely devastating. Mary asking Joseph, How how's little Ruben?

And how's little Isaac? What about Joshua? Oh, dead my love. We're all dead. Tell me, what about little Nathan?

Little Nathan? Don't know he escaped. They're in hiding. Doesn't look good. These are real children.

Just because they avoided the slaughter, doesn't mean to say it didn't affect them. And Matthew is writing this. He wants us to feel the pain. He wants us to hear the cries. He wants us to understand that God has come into this dark and wicked and violent world.

The God that could have said, I've had enough of it. Comes in. It's so easy for us to get into a little bubble and into sort of Christmas card way of thinking, but God came as light in darkness. He came as savior, and rescuer into a dying sick world. He wasn't taken by surprise at this massacre.

He came into it. To save it. And that leads me to my first point, all of that was the introduction The first point is hope out of death. See, just have a look what Matthew does here. As Matthew writes about this Bethlehem Butchery, he's actually reminded of the bible, words of the bible.

Words from Jeremiah, the prophet who's a bible writer in the old testament. The Bethlehem Butchery reminds him to go to the bible to ask the question. What does this mean? Not just to weep but find out what it means. And look what he says in verse 18 of chapter 2 of Matthew or verse 17.

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled. A voice is heard in Rama, weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they were no more. Now hold it, let's get a bit of history here. Follow me here because this is really important.

Bethlehem where this massacre happened. Bethlehem is on the road to Rachel's grave in Rama. Rama is just outside Bethlehem. Okay? Where Rachel died.

Rachel was the wife of Jacob. Jacob is the founding or 1 of the founding fathers of the Jewish people of Israel. In fact, Jacob had his name changed to Israel. So Rachel, the mother at the the wife of Jacob, is like the founding mother of Israel. She's like the mother of of the people of God.

She died in Rama just outside Bethihim. Giving birth. Now just imagine that. Right at the moment where there is going to be joy where she's just given birth to her son, in the pain of delivery and the joy of delivering a son, There's the pain of her death. You see the emotions again?

There's joy there. A sun is poor. And there's sadness there. Rachel died. Ramma though was also the place where Babylon Now, Babylon in the bible always stands for the power of this evil world.

I have no time to prove that to you, but that's what what what Babylon stands for. But Babylon set up a prisoner of war camp in in Rama. They had come in and destroyed Jerusalem They had taken they'd kill people and then taken the young men into exile but before they took them into exile, they put them in this prisoner of war camp to be deported from Ramma to to Babylon. So like Rachel, their whole lives were filled with sorrow and death. Their families had been killed.

The city had been destroyed. Their country was captured. They were lost They were destroyed. They were captives. They were tired.

They were bloodstained. They were beaten. They were physically mentally spiritually, emotionally, absolutely exhausted. And so Jeremiah looks at all this and he imagines mother of of Israel, mother Rachel just sobbing at the tragedy of these events. Her own death at the birth of her son and the death of Israel or what it looked like.

So she's pictured as weeping in her tomb and this is how Jeremiah writes. But here, now get this. This is where there's hope. My first point is hope in death. This is where there's hope.

Right at the point of hopelessness, there is hope. Rachel, as she was dying, her dying breath was to call her son Do you know what his son's name was? Ben oni. Ben oni. Ben oni means son of my sorrows.

Man of sorrows. As she died, she only saw sorrow, man of my sorrows, and died. Joseph changed his name to Benjamin, so we had Benjamin leading today. And Benjamin means what does it mean? Benjamin?

Son of my right hand. Son of my right hand. Right hand means strength, means power, means ruler. So what had happened is In the place of death, in the place of Bethlehem, in the place of Ramma, son of sorrow had turned into son of my right hand. Now, Rachel didn't know the whole story.

She just saw death. The sons that were taken into exile didn't know the whole story. They just saw the promises of God to save a people for himself They've all been broken. God is not true to His Word. It's the end of our nation.

But here, we see there is hope. Again in Bethlehem, Matthew draws on this, this first Christmas. We've got the same thing playing out, the same soundtrack of weeping and wailing. So is there any hope? Is there any hope now?

Yes. Because 1 who's been born in this sorrow, man of sorrow is going to turn into man at the right hand. 30 years later after the first Christmas, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was weeping. Along with the daughters of Jerusalem weeping, as they saw her son beaten, rejected, tortured being taken out for more torture on a cross. Man of sorrows acquainted with grief, and they wailed.

And just like Rachel crying, they cried. The daughters of Jerusalem wept as Jesus carried the cross and Jesus said, don't weep for me because on the cross In that horrible death and violent torture, the man of sorrows 3 days later becomes the man at the right hand of God, the ruler of the world. That's the Easter story. That day on the cross out of all the days. Heaven is filled with glorifying God in the highest.

When he was born and the Shepard saw the sky light up with the heavenly hosts saying glory to God in the highest but when he's on the cross then the sky turns dark even in the middle of the day, but it's there, the glory of the God in the highest is showing his glory as on the cross. He deals with Satan and Satan's kingdom comes down. An evil is going to be destroyed. It's the beginning of the end of Satan and his kingdom and lies and violence and wars and crimes and murder and false parents and torture glory to God in the highest as the sky goes dark, and he wrestles with darkness and takes the very sin of the world upon himself. Just look at these verses from acts.

Here is Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon on the day of Pentecost. See what Peter does with the cross of Christ. Look what he says, fellow Israelites. Listen to me. Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by mirror wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know.

You know Jesus was no ordinary human. You know that. This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge This wasn't an accident. This wickedness that happened to him was in the very plan of God. God planned it.

And you with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him on the cross. You are guilty even though God planned it, you are guilty you wicked people. But God looked raised him up from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to ahold of him. Then just go down to verses 32. Look for the words here.

God has raised this Jesus to life and we are witnesses to it. We saw this. Exulted him to where? What's it say? I can't hear you.

I know you got masked him, exalted him to the Benjamin. On the cross, Ben O'ni. Benjamin. He exalted him to Benjamin. He has received from the father, the promise holy spirit and poured out what you now see and hear.

For David did not ascend to heaven and yet he says the Lord said to my lord, sit at my what does it say? Benjamin. Sit at my Benjamin. He was Benonny, man of sorrows, he's man, at the right hand of God. Until I make your enemies a foot your foot's until until I make your enemies a foot stall for your feet.

He's going to put his feet on all the enemies, all the evil of this world. Therefore, that all Israel be assured of this God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, Lord and Messiah. See, there's a bigger story line. Than our immediate horror and suffering that we've got to understand. Out of suffering, out of brokenness, comes restoration and hol holiness.

Out of out of death comes life and resurrection. When Jesus is around, Out of death comes resurrection. Christmas is about God coming into this wicked, broken world of death and pain and COVID and starting something new. Good news of great joy. He deals with the real world, not the bubble holiday world.

And we, like Rachel, sometimes we have no idea what good could possibly come out of the death of a murdered little 6 teen month old child? What good could come out of that lord? What good could come out of 6 year old child tortured? Screaming out no 1 loves me. My goodness.

What a world we live in? What good could come out of that? And sometimes we just don't know and all we can do is weep with those who weep, but we do know this 1 day. Benjamin will fit it all together and bring good news of great joy in all the Benoni. All the sorrow.

We know that. Look at the bigger picture, my friend. When you hear these things. Try to do that, will you? Weep.

Definitely, weep. Weep through tear filled eyes look. Weep, but through tear filled eyes, look, go to the scriptures. Go to an understanding. That's what trust and faith and hope is all about.

Do you have faith and hope in these days? There's good news of great joy in what seems to be darkness and hopelessness. The 1 at the father's right hand is working all things out. You know these verses. We preached on them many times.

Just have a look at them. They're extraordinary Romans. And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose and then verse 31 of Romans 8, What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us who can be against us? Emmanuel, God is with us.

God is for us. That's Christmas. Who can be against us? Brothers and sisters. Who can be against us?

That's the question. So look what he says in verse 37. In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us for I am convinced, neither death nor life, neither angel nor demons, neither the present or the future or any powers neither height nor depth or anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing. Nothing, no COVID, no murderous plots, no knife as your shopping in Kingston, No death, no life, no demon, no angel, no 1 no 1 can take you from the love of Christ that came at Christmas, emmanuel God with us.

He's always with us because he has taken sorrow and turned it into the power at his right hand, the power of resurrection and he can take your sufferings and your problems and your tragedies and he will fit them together for his glory. There is hope in hopeless situations, even in death because Jesus has dealt with sorrow, dealt with death, and is at the right hand of the father. Even that quote, From Jeremiah 31 that Matthew quotes about Rachel weeping. It goes on. Look what it goes on.

Matthew doesn't put this in, but Look at the quote. Look what it says. Just look what it says. So we've had Rachel weeping and Ramma weeping, wailing, Then it says this in Jeremiah 31 16. This is what the Lord says.

Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears for your work will be rewarded declares the Lord, they will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your descendants declares the Lord. Your children will return to their own land. In sorrow and wailing, because of Bethlehem, because of the Christmas because of Easter, because of Christ, because he's taken sorrows. There's hope.

There's resurrection hope. Or you go to the, I won't read it all, but you go to the the last book of the Bible, Revelation 21, what an extraordinary chapter where it tells us, I think it might come up, if not. Oh no, I didn't put it in. It's alright, don't worry. It it it tells us what's gonna happen.

They'll be he'll wipe away our tears. All the tears will be wiped away. There won't be any cowardly people or sexually immoral people or people who practice magic arts. They won't be their idolaters and all liars. All of them are dismissed from a new kingdom of life and light and joy and Truth.

That's our hope. Hope in death. I've got 1 more point. Won't take me long. Hope in death.

Please don't please don't ignore that and I'll just I'll try and land that in a minute but there's 1 more point. Hope out of the least. Hope out of the least. Go back to chapter 2 of Matthew, and we see the whole story of Jesus being born and the whole story of herod and so forth, and where he asks where the Messiah is going to be born to the magi. And then he sorry, he asks the priests and the teachers of the law, when the magi turn up and ask where he's gonna be born and they say in verse 5, which is down here somewhere, they say in verse 5 in Bethlehem in Jude they replied, for this is what the prophet has written.

Now listen to what the prophets have written, but you Bethlehem in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah. Now, they were the least. But he's saying actually now you the least, something's gonna come out of you. Look. But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, were by no means the least of the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.

The first point was hope in death because of Jesus. The second point is hope out of the least. You're gonna be not the least anymore because something's gonna come out of you. A ruler and a shepherd. Matthew is constantly reading the world and reading the scriptures and that's the way to live.

He's constantly saying, this is fulfilled. It was written because he sees that there's an unstoppable plan of God in all of the suffering of the world. There's an unstoppable plan of God. The least will be great That's the way God works. The proud will be humbled.

That's the way God works. The humble will be exalted. That's the way God works. Always. These are not random events going on around us, my dear friends.

COVID isn't just a random event. History is his story, worked out in detail. And he loves the weak and the despised and the oppressed. That's who God's heart goes after. But look what it says in verse 6.

There's a ruler for out of you. The least out of the least comes A ruler. Jesus' Lord, I've just tried to show you that. Benjamin, at the right hand of God the Father, the power of God. If you carry on reading Matthew, you'll see that Jesus is the ruler over the waves of the sea.

He's ruler over disease. He's ruler over death. He's ruler over satan. He's ruler over evil. He's ruler.

He's ruler. He's king. He's the true king. He's the ruler. The magi the magi recognize that and bowed down.

Herrod said I will not bow down. I'll kill him. In this COVID world, Jesus is the ruler. Do you believe that? And he's working all things out.

All things is COVID a thing? He's working all things out for our good. Can you understand that? No. Can you trust this 1?

Who is able to take be the man of sorrows? Acquainted with grief but then be the ruler in resurrection power. Look at verse 6 again. Out of the least, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Isn't that what we want?

A shepherd that leads us through the valley of the shadow of death. 1 who's been there? 1 who knows what it what is to be an exile and hunted even at 2 years old? The frightening, mommy and daddy are taking me away to Egypt. We're going to a foreign land.

Why? Because there's someone wanting to kill me powerful man after destroying me. 1 who comes back and is misunderstood even then by his parents, and misunderstood by the world who's crucified. Here's 1 who totally knows how to shepherd people that are going through the valley of the shadow of death because he's been there. Follow him.

He understands pain. Talk to him. He understands what it's like to go to a cross and for people to turn against him. He's the shepherd that knows, who understands who loves, he's the good shepherd that lays his life down for the sheep. He's come into this world of sin and darkness, of your sin and darkness, died on that cross.

To take the hell we deserve and risen again to lead us through even death. To eternal life. The sun at the right hand of god good shepherd. That's who he is? He's a good shepherd who has the power to rule and listen.

Nearly done. He's the good shepherd that has authority and power and love to say this. Let the little children come to me. Do not hinder them. For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

He's the shepherd king who says, let the little children come. Let them come to me. He cares for the children. And he says, if you're gonna come into the kingdom of God, then you come as a child. A child like those 2 children were like, who had no power who were treated as nothing.

You don't come to God saying I am something. I'm proud. You come as a little child. And you say would you love me? Would you love me?

Does anybody love me? Jesus said, I love you this much. Love you on the cross. I love you to come to bet. I loved you enough to come to Betsy.

I loved you enough to be hunted and hounded by a murderer. I loved you enough to take man of sorrows and become Benjamin. So will you trust him? Will you trust him? Will you trust him in these days?

Will you? In this world of COVID and death and what is your hope? What's your explanation of the world? Who are you trusting in? Is it fate?

Are you really really a faithless? Oh, I must hide. I must constantly hide and try to protect myself because there's a nasty thing out there called fate. And if I go out there, I might get a nasty thing. That's fatalism.

It's horrible. Or will you say, I'll trust in my shepherd king, my shepherd king. Come to him like a child, and enter the kingdom of God, and trust him. I'm gonna end with a video of a song which is about this weeping. Now, in some ways, we should have had it at the beginning.

But I want you to go back and I want you to feel. It's a lovely it's a lovely song. It's a it's a lullaby. It's basically the mothers of Jerusalem saying goodbye to their children. You'll know it.

It's, you know, it's just this lovely lullaby. It's a lovely song. We had written some other words to this to sort of bring us to Christ a bit more, but it was too late for me to get that. So this is just a group, what they call pentank what are they called? Pent pentatonics.

They're singing this this song. And I want you to feel the weight of the world and the sadness, but I want you to remember as we hear this. That from Ben Oni, we've got Benjamin. And after this video, just feel this. Just be praying for our world.

Prying for that opportunity down at the river this afternoon. After this, Benjamin will come and pray. Bye. Father, we thank you, that your gospel, your word, Your good news doesn't come to a fake plastic world that we see on Christmas cards and in movies and then poetry, but it came to this very world that we live and breathe in right now. Further, we thank you that when you looked at this world that we live and breathe in, You didn't abandon it.

You didn't crush us into oblivion. You didn't blot out the suffering and the sin and the darkness. You didn't turn your face away from it, cast us away forever, but you, yourself, in the Lord Jesus Christ, were born into it. And not born into a bubble. You didn't escape the pain and the sorrow.

That we experience in this world. But through the lord Jesus Christ, you know what it is like. To feel sorrow and tears that run down our faces. Lord, we're sorry. For the ways that we contribute to the darkness and the suffering in this world.

We know that our own hearts are guilty and black before you. And we have even done horrible, awful things ourselves. But father, thank you that the Lord Jesus Christ came for us. He didn't come for those who are righteous, but he came for sinners. He didn't come for those who are well, He came for the sick and for the needy.

And that is all of us, Lord. So help us, father, to be humble before you to accept our desperate need of the lord Jesus Christ. Thank you that he changes the story of history. He takes Ben on he and he makes it Benjamin. And he will do the same for us.

At the moment, we are in the valley of the shadow of death, but 1 day you are going to raise us up, and you were going to seat us with Christ at your right hand. What an amazing amazing hope that is. Forgive us, Lord, when we desperately want that now, and we look for that in this life. And we doubt you when we don't see it now. Your promise isn't for now.

It is for then, and you have promised that you will raise us then. But thank you that in the meantime, we have Christ, our shepherd, who leads us through this valley. He's walked this path. He's seen the end. He's gone through that door.

He knows where it leads. Help us to trust him to follow him. Help us to to blot out lies that distract us, that offer alternative routes. Father, thank you for the Lord Jesus help us to follow him all the days of our life, in his name, amen.

Preached by Pete Woodcock
Pete Woodcock photo

Pete is Senior Pastor of Cornerstone and lives in Chessington with his wife Anne who helps oversee the women’s ministry in the church.

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