12: On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

The Twelfth Day: Morning

Behold the King at Christmas


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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:1,2

Also read Luke 1:31–33


The baby lying in Bethlehem’s manger on that first Christmas so long ago was none other than the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

We must say this because the angel Gabriel said it to Mary in no uncertain terms (Luke 1:31-33). The wise men, who journeyed far to find Jesus, made it clear that they were searching for the King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2). Did they have a complete and accurate understanding of Jesus’ kingship? Probably not. But the Holy Spirit of God had given them enough illumination to know that Jesus was born not only to be a king but a very special kind of king.

The gifts they brought to Him speak volumes. There was frankincense, myrrh and gold. Strange gifts for a baby you say? Not for this baby! Frankincense (pure incense) was something offered to God. Myrrh was a burial spice. And gold was a gift appropriate for a king.

Did they wrap their gifts? No. But wrapped in their gifts was a ton of truth. They had found the baby who was God in human flesh, the baby who had come to this earth in our humanity to die for sinners; they had found the baby who was King over all. Origen was surely correct in saying of the gifts the wise men gave Jesus: “… gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to God.”

The very fact that the wise men worshiped Jesus tells us a great deal. No ordinary baby, this baby! No ordinary king, this king!

But we haven’t gone far enough if we merely assert the kingship of Jesus. We must ask: What kind of king? Herod saw in the baby of whom the magi spoke a rival to his own throne. If Jesus had been born a king, He must be the same kind of king as Herod himself—the king of a temporal realm. Herod could conceive of no greater king than an earthly king and no greater kingdom than an earthly kingdom, yet he could not possibly have been more mistaken. Yes, Jesus was a king, but not at all like Herod! Jesus did not come to be mere the temporary king of a temporary kingdom. And He certainly did not come to rule His subjects with the cruelty and heartlessness that was Herod’s.

One day, Jesus himself would say to Pilate: “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice”(John 18:37).

Three words should spring to our minds when we think of King Jesus and His kingdom: spiritual, universal, eternal.


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