Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Go Tell It On The Mountain"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 2:1-2 – 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 in the east and have come to worship him." (NIV)
Each Christmas, we acknowledge 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 NIV)
Hebrews 1:8 – But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom." (NIV)
What can be said about royal births? These are no ordinary births. Such a child is heir to the throne, which in a true, ruling monarchy is a position of power and authority over an entire kingdom. Someday, 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 — either the way of the Magi or the way of King Herod. 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: Either we 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 give deference to only one: either the sovereign or the rival.
The human sin nature will always resist Christ as "the most exalted of the kings of the earth" (Psalm 89:27b NIV). 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 reign in our lives, and we all 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:
Zechariah 9:9b – See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation. (NIV)
Revelation 17:14a – [Rivals] will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. (NIV)
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, that Your name may be glorified. Amen.