BY REV. LEE LAAVEG - SPENCER FAITH LUTHERAN CHURCH
When the angel, Gabriel, visited Mary, she knew this would be no ordinary child. Quite the contrary, the child would be fathered by the Spirit of the living God. A virgin girl would birth the Most High, in the line of King David. The arrival of this king was long anticipated with prayerful hope. The oppressed people in darkness needed a deliverer.
The moment Jesus was born as our king, his reign was upside down. He was not what people had expected through centuries of waiting, but he was just what we needed. His whole life is a beautiful paradox. The wise still see the work of God wooing us to himself through this baby.
When kings assume power, the people shout, "Long live the king!" But, from the moment he was born, even from eternity, Jesus was born to die. He was born to die so that we might live. It was his destiny.
When royalty is born, proud parents proclaim the child's birth to the people of highest power, to the famous, to the upper echelons of society. At Jesus' birth, God sent angels to the lowly shepherds out in the fields, "Good news of great joy for all people, for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. …" (Luke 2). Jesus is born for all people regardless of their status in culture.
Kings are born in palaces, but Jesus was born in a stable. Royal babies lie on soft beds with silk sheets, but Mary swaddled Jesus and laid him in a feeding trough nuzzled by cows with hay rubbing his cheeks. Most still give him no room.
Finest doctors attend the birth of kings, surrounded by servants who anticipate and tend every need. The barn in Bethlehem greeted Jesus with sounds of cattle lowing, donkeys braying and sheep bleating. The sounds and smells were earthy. The wealthy lack nothing, but Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, were hard-working blue-collar folk. Jesus emptied himself of everything to seek us where we are.
Kings hold intrinsic power with their position, and few have access to see them face to face. The baby Jesus lies vulnerable in weakness, yet his very vulnerability invites access for all to know him personally. The king’s word is the law of the land, enforced by soldiers. But, the language of King Jesus is love, and he invites us to follow him.
Kings rule from a throne, but Jesus will reign forever from a cross. Instead of a crown of precious metal studded with jewels, Jesus is given a crown of thorns pressed down on his brow, dyed with his red blood. That is why we call him “Savior.”
How should we receive a king? This Christmas again, we receive the news of his birth with joy! We bend the knee and bow in homage. In faith, we pledge to serve this child with loyal hearts. In faith, we worship this unique king as our God. And he shall reign forever.