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As a little girl, I grew up hearing the traditional nativity story. Jesus was born in a manger to a virgin girl, and all was well. Though there was no room in the inn, it was a successful night that ended with the birth of the Savior of the world. It was a basic story tucked away in my heart and pulled out every Christmas.
But the older I grow, the more I realize that Jesus’ entrance into the world was not a pleasant story but a radical and unexpected one. It was one filled with judgment, mockery, confusion, and betrayal.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin who became pregnant with a baby boy through the power of the Holy Spirit. Not only did she have to tell her husband Joseph that she was pregnant, but her acceptance of this gift would require her to accept the judgment, mockery, and accusations of the people. Her story was scandalous. An unmarried woman pregnant with a child that her husband didn’t help conceive.
Beyond Mary’s treatment from others, however, the claims she made about her child would become even more controversial. Joseph and Mary prophesied that Jesus would save the people from their sins. They knew that their child was no ordinary child but a holy, blameless, and perfect one ordained by God. And though this was the truth, I can only imagine the backlash they constantly received from others.
Being Jesus’ parents could not have been easy.
It isn’t enough to imagine giving birth in a dirty manger without medical staff or medicine but talk about a lowly and humble birth. Envision giving birth with your husband as the delivery nurse. Visualize the pain and discomfort of a virgin girl pushing out a child without knowing what she is doing.
The aroma of fresh cow manure wafts through the air. The sheep will not stop eating the straw bed made. One of the cows decides to take a nap right where you sleep. Your frustrations match the animals’ annoyance that you are in their barn.
It was dark, dingy, smelly, and unflattering, but our King of Kings would not have entered our world any other way. He’s the King of doing unexpected things. But we don’t really like unplanned things, do we?
While we might enjoy a spontaneous date or surprise event every once in a while, our souls grow anxious when we don’t know what is going to happen next. Even more so, we even get mad when our expectations aren’t met the way we envisioned them.
Your spouse didn’t put away the dishes as you asked.
You anticipated a special night out for your anniversary but got a night stuck at work instead.
You thought your life would look different by twenty-five, yet here you are, lonely, anxious, and questioning decisions made and opportunities lost.
The people of Jesus’ time were no different.
They expected a dominant King like they had experienced prior.
They anticipated that He would demolish strongholds with violence and take back control.
They thought He would look like the other kings and appear royalty.
They did not know what to do when He arrived as a tiny baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Because this would be the King of Kings, and he would be all-powerful. He would destroy fortresses but with peace, truth, and light. He would knock over tables and set rights wrong. He would become royalty, but in a way and location never fully understood by man. Yet all of that would mean nothing without His story, without His King of Kings beginning.
King of Kings
The mother of Jesus, chosen by God. Unaware that her reorienting of the justice system would begin with her child. The mark her Son would soon leave on the world was unfathomable to humanity. Pledged to be married to Joseph, now pregnant with a child that would save the people from their sins.
Confused. A good man wanting to honor God, now expecting with his wife of whom he did not sleep with.
An Angel of the Lord.
Saving grace to a steadfast couple. A messenger between the already and not yet.
Produced by the Holy Spirit. Prophesied as the Savior of the World.
When Jesus was born, they coddled Him with wool blankets. He was a humble King born in a lowly and dingy manger. He walked our Earth, breathed our air, and became one of us. Except He was different.
He was holy.
The misfit of all the parties sitting with Jews and mingling with Gentiles.
All before He was 33 years old.
But eventually, His something different made certain someone’s mad. And by someone, we mean society who never accepted Him in the first place.
And so, we, you, I, and our ancestors crucified Him on a cross.
We denied His 33 years of miracles in exchange for a few mere coins.
The crown of thorns.
The dripping blood.
The disfigured body hanging off a tree.
A perfect lamb.
We mocked, spit, and spat at the King of Kings. The one deserving of all praise.
But we were the one’s deserving judgment, not He. Yet we were the ones to walk free.
As the sky turned black, a veil was torn. You could hear, “It is finished,” crumbling from His lips.
The earth was dark. The Jews were broken. Humanity had lost hope.
“Wasn’t He the Son of God?” Their voices asked accusingly.
“Why didn’t He save Himself?” Culture questioned.
“Wasn’t much of a King.” The criminals mocked.
If only they knew. If only they heard the rest of the story.
Because they didn’t expect Jesus to come as a baby born in a manger to a virgin girl who wasn’t even married. They didn’t anticipate His groundbreaking oppositions to authority. We didn’t know what we were looking for, yet when He came to earth, we didn’t even accept Him.
As He was.
As He is.
As He is to come.
For today, our time is near.
When Jesus died and rose again over 2,000 years ago, He set the captives free.
He brought light.
He brought truth.
He brings light.
He is truth.
He is life.
He is worthy to be our King.
He was worthy then.
He is still worthy now.
“By His blood, he purchased men for God. From every tribe and language and people and nation. He’s made them to be a Kingdom and Priests to serve our God. And they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
We are not worthy to receive this gift, but that’s the beauty of grace. For a King we would’ve expected? We would still be heartless, broken sinners in need of a Savior.
For a King we never imagined? We’ve received more than we ever deserved.
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13b).
Because This is the King of Kings.
Wrapped in cloths.
Lying in a manger.
Innocent. Pure. Humble. And Meek.
A King like we never imagined.