If a very close loved one gives you a gift wrapped in a very small package, chances are it’s something very precious. Over 2000 years ago the Creator and Father gave the world His most precious treasure wrapped in a very small package: His Son in the form of a newborn baby. His value was announced by angels and a star and acknowledged by a band of local Jewish shepherds, the lowest of their society—and then by a group of wealthy foreign scholars who had traveled for months just to trace down the newborn “King of the Jews.”
Who was this baby that he commanded such attention by heavenly and earthy powers? What can we say when the Creator of the universe visits his own world semi-incognito in order to rescue them? When the Infinite disguises Himself as a helpless baby? Words fail. That’s the wonder of the Incarnation—the mind-blowing truth that I struggle to grab hold of every Christmas season.
Wrapped up in those strips of cloth was the fulfillment of all mankind’s hopes and dreams for love, joy, peace, purpose, justice, goodness, everlasting life, and more! It was effected by the forgiveness made possible through that baby (now a man—the God-Man) voluntarily taking the punishment we so rightly deserved. This is God’s extravagant gift to humankind, which we celebrate this day.
There are two things you can do with a gift: receive it or reject it. To receive a costly gift implies a relationship with the giver. The Creator and God of the universe extends to us the privilege of an intimate relationship with Him.
Or you can reject the gift. Why do people reject precious gifts? Maybe they don’t want to be tied down by a close relationship with the giver. Maybe they feel it would put them in an uncomfortable position of obligation. Maybe they think they don’t need the gift.
The gift of a relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ is offered to you. Have you accepted it? Can you afford not to?
Who is King of the Jews? That is the big question at both the beginning and the end of Jesus’ life.
Magi came seeking the newborn King of the Jews. But Herod was already occupying that title, and he would tolerate no rivals. Jesus’ parents barely got him out of town before Herod’s forces swept in and massacred the baby boys in an attempt to be sure no other “King of the Jews” could threaten his throne.
Thirty-three years later, the same question arose. The religious elite, jealous of Jesus’ popularity, insisted that he be executed on the grounds that “he claims to be Christ, a king.” (Luke 23:2) After grilling Jesus, Governor Pilate is still hesitant to condemn a man who seems to be innocent. Then Jesus’ enemies play their trump card: “”If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” Finally he asks the religious leaders, “Shall I crucify your king?” Their response: “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:12-16)
But Pilate (or I prefer to think it was God, acting through Pilate) had the last say when he prepared the accusation to be posted above Jesus’ head on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
So who was king of the Jews—Herod, Caesar, or Jesus who was rejected by both the political and the religious establishment? Jesus is the only one of those who was a Jew. And He is the only one who is alive today. One day Jesus’ own people will finally acknowledge Him as their true King. What a day that will be! God’s people from the Jews and Gentiles united together under Jesus as not only King of the Jews but King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
Magi from the east were looking for a King.
Jesus showed up as the Son of David in Bethlehem.
Simeon was watching for the Messiah God had promised he’d see before he died.
That Messiah showed up in the Temple in his mother’s arms.
Disciples on a stormy lake were looking for a lifesaver!
The Savior showed up walking on the water and calmed the storm.
Mary Magdalene was distraught over the loss of her beloved Rabbi and Friend.
Jesus whispered her name and turned her tears into incredulous joy.
Two men expressed frustrated hopes on the road to Emmaus.
A Stranger walked with them, explained it all and then revealed His identity.
Seven disciples were returning from a futile fishing trip.
A Man on shore gave them advice and their nets were filled!
“It’s Jesus!” When Jesus shows up, all is well. He is all we need!
We used to sing about “We three kings of Ori ‘n’ Tar” traveling far to see Jesus. Where did we get the idea that these guys were kings? The only king on the scene there was the Baby! Even Herod was a wannabe, not recognized by the Jews as their legitimate king.
Jesus as King is arguably the main theme of the gospel of Matthew. Interestingly, however, the only ones in this book who refer to Him by that title are Gentiles: the magi at His birth, and Pontius Pilate at His death, who was responsible for the sign on the cross, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” (Matthew 27:37)
But another title used in Matthew carries the same meaning: “Son of David.” The legitimate and promised successor to the throne of Israel’s most beloved king centuries before. Who used this title for Jesus?
Matthew, the author (1:1)
Two pairs of blind men, presumably Jewish (9:27 & 20:30-31).
A Canaanite woman seeking help for her demonized daughter (15:22)
Triumphant crowds cheering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a week before He was crucified (29:9)
The general population wasn’t so sure. “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.” (John 1:10-11)
I wonder—if I had been alive in that day, how would I have received the King? More importantly, is He truly King of every area of my life today? What areas have I usurped?