The Birthday of the King

The Birthday of the King

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2)

Christmas means many things to different people. To the student home from school or means vacation from study and a round of parties and renewing of relationships. To the child in the home it means Santa Claus, a gaily decorated Christmas tree, with beautifully wrapped packages underneath. To the businessman it means increased volume of business and greater profits. To the clerk in the store it means longer working hours and dealing with disgruntled customers who seen not to have caught the spirit of Christmas. To forgotten orphans, hospital patients and inmates in other institutions it means a time when the world remembers. To others Christmas is holly wreaths, brilliantly lighted windows, and increased social activity. Christmas is all this and infinitely more, for Christmas is the birthday of the King.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem saying, where is He that is born King of the Jews?” It was natural that they should seek this King in the capital of Judaism, Jerusalem. For surely there the people would know of this marvelous event. No doubt they entered the city expecting to find a street crowded with people joyously celebrating the birth of a King. Imagine their surprise when they found the life of the city moving at the same pace. And they went from one to another, asking, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” Men looked at them as if they were out of their minds. At last words came to Herod and his advisors, the chief priest and rulers of the people, concerning the search of these oriental potentates. For their rulers knew the prophecy, “But thou Bethlehem though thou be littlest amongst the rulers of Judah, out of thee shall come forth a governor, who shall rule my people Israel.” The rulers were troubled, least this king should usurp their powers. They sent for the Wise Men, questioned them and sent them to Bethlehem, to find the Babe. The Star guided them, and they came and found the Babe.

What a contrast between these two Kings: one dwelt in a palace, the other in a small house. The one garbed in purple, the other in swaddling bands; the one wore a crown of gold, the other was destined to be crowned with thorns; the one attended by many servants, the other ignored by all.

On this Christmas Sunday there is a lesson for us in this contrast – all is not gold that glitters; life does not consist in the abundance of things a man possesses; “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” The world may judge a man by the texture of his clothes, the size of his home, and the favor he finds in the eyes of others but such is not the standard of God. In the eyes of God that man is great who does the will of God. Herod lived for himself, but the Babe in Bethlehem lived for others.

Ex-President Hoover once told of a doctor who lived many years ago in a city on the West Coast. He was a good doctor, well versed in the knowledge of his profession. He never sought patients amongst those who had much of the world’s goods, but he dedicated his life to the serving of the poor. Thus he had a very small office on the second floor of a ramshackle building. On the side of the doorway that opened into the stairs that led to his office was this sign, “Doctor Upstairs.” The kind manner, the wise ministrations, and the words of wisdom which he dispensed as he gave out pills endeared him to thousands of people. On the day of his death many hundreds of people followed his body through the streets to the last resting place. Several of the very poorly dressed people who lingered beside his grave were discussing ways and means of providing a tombstone. One left the group, rushed back to the doctor’s office and came back bearing a sign and placed it upon the grave. It read, Doctor Upstairs. What a fine tribute to a man who was interred in heavenly rather than earthly treasure.

To a world that has lost sight of moral and spiritual values, that think more of fame than a good name, more of money than honesty, more of a beautiful home than a beautiful soul, the contrast between Herod and Christ reminds us that life is more than meat. “What’s wrong with the world: Nothing? The wrong is in the hearts and lives of its inhabitants, for no world can be better than the souls of its inhabitants. Our world will be as it is so long as we rate a full stomach above a full heart.”

When they found the Babe, “they went into the house, they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him: when they had opened their treasurers, they presented unto Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.” The warning by God and the flight into Egypt. The slaughter of the innocents.

Herod was not successful in his attempt to destroy the King. Time and again in the course of recorded history attempts have been made to destroy Christ and to stamp out the effects of Christianity. But all effort has failed. Nero sought to destroy Christ and His Church but in a comparatively few years after his death, Christianity conquered his empire. It was Napoleon who testified: “Caesar, Charlemagne and I were conquerors. Upon what did out conquest depend? Upon force. But Jesus Christ established His Kingdom upon love. Today thousands would die for Him gladly, and in the end His Kingdom shall rule over all.”

“We may be confused by the turmoil that exists throughout the world, and fearful of what the future may hold, but at Christmas the heart is uplifted because of the days reminder that the world is in the hands of One who gave His Son to be the redeemer. Whatever may happen today or tomorrow, in the end His Kingdom shall triumph.

Christmas means the birthday of the King who would rule in the hearts of men. Will you with the Wise Men of old bow low before Him in humble yet sincere worship and present Him the best gift of all – yourselves?

Dr. Robert W Kirkpatrick

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