Access to God
John Milton, English poet, in notoriety second to William Shakespeare, from the mid 1600’s.
- A polemicist and civil servant of the Commonwealth of England, ultimately serving under Oliver Cromwell (military and political royalist, Protestant, during English Civil War).
- Writing during times of religious flux and political upheaval.
- His passion for free speech and freedom of the press went hand in hand with his vibrant faith and freedom found in Christ.
- Milton was cut from a polemical, fighters kind of cloth.
- His paternal grandfather, a stanch Roman Catholic, expelled and disinherited his son John (Milton’s father) from the family home (in Oxfordshire) for reading an English Bible!
- His son John Milton grew up a protestant, mentored a Scottish Presbyterian.
- Enrolling at Christ College, in Cambridge for ministry.
- Being a radical (in conflict with his tutors, not spiritually minded enough) was expelled from Cambridge, and then reinstated.
- Finished 2 degrees and after seven years returned home to Buckinghamshire.
- At age 30 he traveled abroad to Italy and while visiting Florence, through his academic friendships and connections met Galileo.
- Now aged and blind, and under a virtual house arrest.
- This encounter made an impression, as Galileo became the only contemporary whom Milton mentioned by name in his world famous work, Paradise Lost.
- Milton returned to London, but ironically, did not write this biblical epic until age 60 (1652).
- He was now completely blind, suffering from gout, forcing him to write through dictation.
- [Point] Milton’s young rebel roots was now through this old man’s voice speaking through this masterpiece gospel poem.
- Meant to confront the English Tyranny of the day and to Promote Freedom found in Christ.
With this background, listen to two lines from Paradise Lost meant to lead hearers into the depth of Jesus birth!
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of heav’n’s eternal King,
Of wedded Maid and Virgin Mother’s born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us perpetual peace.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he won’t at heav’n’s high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Principle: Christ’s incarnation meant sacrifice. It means Free Access to Himself!
This is why Milton’s grandfather cutoff Milton’s father from his family.
- Grandfather said, choose!
- Access to Christ or Access to me!
- Milton’s Dad wisely chose Access to Christ!
Why Christ “chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay!”
- Direct access to God’s Word, is the same direct access with have to Christ!
- This is the gift we have for being Christians!
Principle: Christmas means Direct Access to Christ!
In Luke’s account the angels announced for the Shepherds to, “Fear Not!” for the “Glory of God” had come!
Their response, tells us they understood!
ESV Luke 2:15-17 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.
The shepherds went straight away, “with haste” to “see” the Son of God!
World leaders make it their life to block you from this experience! The apex “world leader,” Satan himself, lives to block your Free Access to Christ.
This is the storyline of Matthew 2!
ESV Matthew 2:1-23 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.'”[Herod Conspires to Kill Christ] 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. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 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. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.[Flight to Egypt] 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.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 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.”[Herod Kills the Children] 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. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “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.” [The Return to Nazareth] But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
“God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is as fantastic as it the truth of the incarnation.” [J.I. Packer, Knowing God].
What’s staggering is not just this miracle but what this miracle means.
Free Access to God, Today!