Christ is King
Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Mt. 2:2
Dr. Al Mohler once asked the question (in connection with the abdication of King Juan Carlos of Spain in favor of his son, Philip VI), “How in the world can you have the existence of hereditary monarchies when hereditary monarchs don’t act like the heads of the dynasties that they had inherited? This is a very interesting question,” he goes on to say, “but the more important question is this: Why is there such a hunger for a king? Why is there so much interest in the heads of royal houses of Europe, especially when there is virtually no political power now assigned to those royal houses?”
This is not a pointless question; a recent survey of the British public showed that fully two-thirds of the population believes that Britain is better off as a monarchy. Only 17 per cent want a republic instead.
Mohler argues that there is a reason for this, an inner longing that is intrinsic to us as human beings for “the kind of grandeur and majesty that is associated with the throne.” Like the ancient Israelites, we seem to want a king to reign over us. However, it is also important to note that though modern man has a fascination with monarchies, and those who live under them – at least in Europe – seem to have no desire divesting themselves of them, yet the kind of monarchs they are content to support are also those monarchs who have no real power. They want a king, but not one who really reigns over them. Paradoxically, though people might feel a need for a king, they also are not willing to give up their self-determination to truly have one.
In the same way, I believe that everyone everywhere feels a need deep down that they need God, the true king of the universe. And yet, at the same time, because sin and selfishness and self-centeredness rule our hearts, we also are not willing to surrender ourselves to the sovereignty of God over our lives. We want God to be a kind of constitutional monarch, one who in the end has to bow to the dictates of the parliament of our desires and wishes.
Jesus Christ is the King of the universe. He is your king, whether or not you will receive him now as such. And he is not a constitutional monarch – he reigns with absolute authority over heaven and earth (Mt 28:18). Though many may not bow the knees to Jesus now, the day is coming when all will: “Therefore God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
That Jesus is king is precisely the point Matthew has been making from the very beginning of his Gospel. Jesus is the son of David (1:1), the king who will save his people from their sins, Immanuel, God with us (1:21, 23). He will inherit a throne that is to rule all nations, and through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. When we come to chapter 2, therefore, it should be no surprise to us that Matthew continues with the theme of the kingship of Christ. Some see in the star an implicit reference to the prophesy of Balaam [who shares similarities with the Magi of Matthew 2] in Numbers 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth” (ESV). In other words, the star was not only meant to serve as a confirmation that Christ was born, but also as a sign of who was born – a king. Moreover, in the story of the Gentile Magi, we see the reign of one “born king of the Jews” (2:2) extending over those who are non-Jew, another preview of the Great Commission (28:18-20).
But the history before us is instructive, not only because by it Matthew further develops the themes of royalty but also because it previews the way people have received the news of Christ’s lordship from his birth to the present day. In Matthew 2:1-10, we have three different groups of people with three different responses to the news of Jesus’ birth. They are King Herod (2:3), the chief priests and scribes (2:4), and, of course, the Magi (2:2). Over the next few days, I want us to look at each of these groups, and then to examine their particular response to Jesus. As we do so, it would be very profitable for each of us to see who we identify with.
But today, let's rejoice that Jesus is King. Not just that he wants to be king but that he reigns supreme over all. There is coming a day when all will recognize this. However, let his rule be expressed more and more in our own hearts, as we submit to and rejoice in his good rule over our hearts and lives. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king!"