[The Magi asked King Herod:] “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.” (Matthew 2:2 NIV)
Each Christmas we are acknowledging a royal birth. Baby Jesus was, after all, born to be King. He was destined for a throne, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion …” (Ephesians 1:21)
“But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” (Hebrews 1:8, 9)
What can be said about royal births? These are no ordinary births. This child is heir to the throne, which in a ruling monarchy, is a position of power and authority over an entire kingdom. Some day the child will require loyalty from every citizen. No wonder rivals view a royal child as a threat. They don’t want to pay him homage - ever. They want to be king themselves! These imposters will try anything to thwart the child’s ascendency to the throne – even murder. It’s not surprising that Baby Jesus, because of his royalty, faced such a threat early in his life.
Christ’s birth was like a fork in the road. It took people in opposite directions -- the way of the Magi or the way of King Herod. Oh, they both took the infant’s royal status seriously. For the Magi it was validated in the heavenlies, for Herod, in the Jewish Scriptures. They couldn’t deny that this was an authentic royal birth. That’s precisely what compelled them both to seek Him. That’s also what took them in opposite directions. The Magi accepted the Child as King, Herod viewed the Child as a rival. Consequently, the Magi bowed before Him, and Herod wanted him killed.
Surely these are the only two possible responses to Christ’s kingship: We either accept Him as the rightful ruler of our lives or we resist His rule in our lives. It’s one of only two ways. There’s no comfortable compromise, no happy medium. That’s how it is with royalty. You can only give deference to one: either to the king or to his adversary.
The human sin nature will always resist Christ as “the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 2:6) That is why absolute power in the hands of earthly monarchs can be so devastating. In truth, we all wrestle with the temptation to usurp Christ’s kingship in our lives and demand our own way. Surely that’s a reason to acknowledge Christ’s royal birth – that we may be reminded afresh who this Child truly is – in our lives, and in the world:
“See your king comes to you, righteous and victorious…” (Zechariah 9:10)
“[Rivals] will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings.” (Revelation 17:14)
Prayer: Gracious Eternal King, demolish all within us that seeks to assert itself over You, so that we may reverence You with pure devotion and restful trust.