And His Name Shall Be Called: King of the Jews
Sunday December 18, 2022
This is the story of some magi, or wise men, that came from the east to adore the boy-child Jesus: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.” (Matthew 2:1-9)
In biblical times, the title “king” meant much more than it means today. In those days, a king was the maximum sovereign and the maximum authority over a nation, and all the subjects lived and prospered, or died, according to the will and the desires of their king.
Today’s story speaks of some wise men from the east, who themselves may have been kings – because a few Old Testament prophecies alluded to kings coming to worship the Messiah. “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising”, wrote the prophet Isaiah (60:3). And Psalm 72:10 mentions some kings bringing gifts to the Messiah: “May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!”
The story also speaks of king Herod, the then king of Judea designated by Rome. Herod, upon hearing the news of the birth of a supposed “king of the Jews”, pretended to want to go and adore Him as well – but in reality he was so troubled and perturbed that he ordered all the baby boys less than two years old to be killed in order to destroy any threat of another king in his place.
But the most important king in this story, without a doubt, is the “king of the Jews”, the title used 18 times in the four gospels for Jesus Christ, but only at the very beginning and then the very end of his earthly life. At the beginning, the wise men arrived in Jerusalem and asked for the birthplace of the “king of the Jews” – and at the end, at Jesus’ death, the sign on His cross read: “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS”. He was born and He died as the “king of the Jews” – but sadly, most of the Jews did not recognize Him nor submit to His kingship.
And what about us? Do we recognize Him as and submit to the kingdom of the “king of the Jews”? Each of us has an inner kingdom that we simply cannot govern ourselves: our feelings, our thoughts, our attitudes, our desires. Without Christ, this inner kingdom is unmanageable and out of control. Only He who created us and who knows us intimately is wise and powerful enough to take the reigns of our inner life. Only the “king of the Jews” should be seated on the throne of our hearts. Have we given Him this place of honour that only He deserves?