A Weary World Rejoices: The Unlikely King
Christmas is a time to reflect; in this crazy year, we have all experienced exhaustion and weariness, but we have hope and peace in Jesus, our King. It can be easy to lean on our own understanding instead of letting Jesus be King in our daily lives, but when we allow Him to be King, we experience the true depths of peace and joy.
There are several ways that individuals react to Jesus’ sovereignty. Let us examine the account of the wise men and how they acknowledged Jesus as King: Matthew 2:1-11 (NIV) says: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief 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 out 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 had 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…”
In this passage, we see how Herod was disturbed, the chief priests and teachers were apathetic, but the wise men bowed down and worshiped Him in faith and humility – even though He seemed an unlikely king. We can behave in those same ways, with hostility to His authority or apathy towards His love, but we also have the choice to react the way the wise men did.
There are three main ways that we can react to Jesus’ Kingship in our lives. Let’s observe how the figures in the passage we just read reacted to the birth of our Lord and how it’s not so different to how we react to Jesus today:
- We can oppose Jesus as King. Matthew 2:3 (NIV) tells us: “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed…” Now, we may not have reacted to Jesus’ Kingship as strongly as Herod did and we certainly don’t want to kill others to get our way, but we might have resisted His authority in our lives. Now, you’ve probably never intentionally opposed Jesus as King – it’s not usually something we think about and consciously do. Opposing Jesus as King can be as simple as enacting our own will without seeking what the Father has for us to accomplish and going after our own desires before seeking His. When we oppose Jesus as King, even in seemingly insignificant areas of our lives, we cannot walk in the fullness God has for us.
- We can ignore Jesus as King. Matthew 2:4-6 (NIV) says: “When he had called together all the people’s chief 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 out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” The chief priests and teachers of the law knew where the Messiah would be born, but did they go to worship him? No, they did not. We can do the same thing; we know about Jesus, but if we go about our lives as if we don’t know Jesus is King, we have our priorities completely out of order. It isn’t enough to know that Jesus is King; we have to submit our lives to Him and put Him first.
- We can worship Jesus as King. We can submit to His will and acknowledge him as King of our hearts and lives. We can be like the wise men, of whom it is written in Matthew 2:11 (NIV): “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him…” They, in faith, bowed down to Jesus even though they hadn’t even seen Him heal the sick or cast out demons. He was just a child at the time, but they understood who He was – and they humbled themselves before Him.
Submitting ourselves to Jesus’ authority is not something to only do the day we get saved; it is just as important that we walk in that truth each and every day – and what better time to remind ourselves of His sovereignty than at Christmas time? Let us walk with King Jesus every step of the way in the New Year and for the rest of our lives – it will not only impact us, but our friends and family and coworkers as well. Changing the world starts with making Jesus the reigning King of our hearts and lives, and you can start today.