9: On the Ninth Day of Christmas

The Ninth Day: Morning

This King Is a Stranger (1)


That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:9-13


Christmas is the time when Christians celebrate the birth of the greatest king of all times, Jesus Christ. When we think of kings certain things quite naturally come to mind. We think, for instance, of someone who has absolute authority over a distinct group of people. This person is enormously rich, and he indulges himself to the fullest with extravagant living. (We still hear advertisements of products that will help us to live like a king.) This person is always surrounded with servants who answer to his beck and call. Quite often, we think of a king as someone who wields his authority without much rhyme or reason and without the slightest regard to the welfare of his subjects.

As we examine the kingship of Jesus during this Christmas season, we are going to discover He is nothing at all like the typical king. In today’s readings, I call your attention to Jesus as a stranger. Perhaps you have never thought of Him in this way. The hymn-writer, Mary MacDonald, thought of it and wrote:


Child in the manger, Infant of Mary

   Outcast and stranger, Lord of all.


The Scriptures above reveal two distinct ways in which Jesus may be regarded as a stranger.


Defying Expectations

Jesus was a stranger to His own people in the sense that He defied their expectations.

The Jews were certainly looking for a king. Make no mistake about that. They knew their Scriptures, and those Scriptures were steeped with prophecies about a coming king. The Book of Deuteronomy assured them that a prophet like Moses would arise (Deut. 18:15,18). King David, their favorite king, had been given marvelous promises that a great king would arise from his descendants (2 Sam. 7:12-13,16). Their prophets had punctuated their prophecies with promises of the coming of this king, and with intoxicating descriptions of the glory He would bring to Israel (e.g. Amos 9:11-15; Hag. 2:8; Zech. 14:1-21).

The people longed for this king to come. The glory days of Israel had now faded into the distant past and not even one prophet had arisen in the last four hundred years to trumpet afresh the promise. We might interpret this combination of events to mean the people were ready to give up all hope, but it seemed to cause many of them to cling more tenaciously to the promises and yearn more intensely for them to be fulfilled.


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