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Al Earley | Jesus is royalty in disguise

What do you know about kings? Specifically, what do you know about all the kings listed in Jesus’s birth narratives? First, there is Caesar Augustus who is mentioned in Luke 2:1. He is the king that called for the census, “So that all the Roman world could be taxed.” If such a king had so much power, and Caesar Augustus had as much power as any man in world history, shouldn’t you know more about him? He inherited the throne of Rome from uncle Julius Caesar, turned the republic into a vast empire extending from Europe to India and established the Pax Romana (the Roman Peace), which made the Roman empire one of the most civilized empires in human history. That is a lot to accomplish when one considers that the vast majority of people only know him by his census.

The next kings listed were the three kings that came from somewhere in the east looking for the one born King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-12). Tradition has their names as Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, but all we really know about them is they arrived soon after Jesus’s birth by following a star. They brought very expensive gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, just in time for the poor couple to flee to Egypt to save Jesus’s life. God’s timing is always perfect.

Then, there is Herod the Great. He is the villain in the Christmas story because all people remember about him is that he jealously slaughtered all the boys under two-years-old in the region of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born (Matthew 2:13-18). Amongst those who study such things, Herod was known for his many and massive building projects, and taxing the Jewish people to death to pay for those projects. He was also known for his hunger for power and arrogance. Herod was not above murdering three of his heirs to establish his leadership. This prompted Caesar Augustus (see first king listed above) to say, “I’d rather be Herod’s sow than Herod’s son.” (It’s a pun because in Greek “hus” means pig and “huios” means son). Not surprisingly, he was also known for his depression. Isn’t it interesting that hunger for power and arrogance, so often seem to be associated with depression?

Of course, there is one more king, and He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). Paul tells us in Philippians 2:6, “being in very nature God, (Jesus) did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.” He was born to two peasants (Mary and Joseph), in a little town that no one cared about (Bethlehem), where there wasn’t a decent place for them to stay. The first ones to actually come and worship the newborn king was a bunch of lowly shepherds. This does not sound like a king to me. What about you? When one is royalty, one is supposed to be surrounded by money, power and prestige. Not feeding troughs, animals and poor people. What kind of king is Jesus?

If you are a regular reader of my articles, you know that at this point I start asking a lot of questions to get you to start thinking. It is my hope that you actually try to think of real answers, and even better, take those questions into a discussion with a friend or share them with your Bible Study Group. Today’s “end of the article” questions come from a song by the contemporary Christian rock group “Downhere.” The song is titled “How Many Kings?” I hope you will share these questions with someone else.

How many kings step down from their thrones? How many lords have abandoned their homes? How many greats have become the least for me? And how many gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that is torn all apart? How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

I think we can safely say that Jesus is royalty in disguise. And when we recognize Him our lives will never be the same again. To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.com.