Do you enjoy a cheap thrill from time to time?
Don’t be embarrassed to admit it! So do I.
One of my all-time favorites is when I experience the involuntary “knee-jerk” reaction.
You’ve had the experience, haven’t you?
You go to your doctor, sit on the exam table and she whacks you in the knee with an orange, triangle-shaped rubber hammer.
Before you even think about your response, your lower leg jerks forward because of the prior stimulus.
For some reason, this makes your doctor smile and you silently hope this means everything is hunky-dory.
Did you ever stop to think about the three radically different reactions people had to the birth of Jesus?
Matthew, one of Jesus’ closest friends, captures these three reactions to the royalty of Jesus the manger-king in the second chapter of his gospel.
Go ahead and see which reaction you resonate with.
The first reaction to the royalty of Jesus was extreme frustration.
Herod, the puppet “king of the Jews” at that time, became emotionally agitated by Jesus in a bad way.
And we can all understand why.
Even though the Romans ruled with an iron fist, he fancied himself a king and lived under the illusion that his plans, goals, and priorities were entitled to stay on the throne of his heart.
Jesus, the true king, arrived with new plans, goals and priorities. Initially, this causes us to feel emotionally troubled, confused and disturbed.
I’m used to being in charge of my destiny and day to day goals.
But what if we were never meant to be sitting on the thrones of our hearts?
What if our dethroning of God by the constant enthronement of our demands actually dehumanizes us?
What if we were meant to be cared for by a good king?
What if we were graced and given even greater plans, goals and priorities for living a fully human life than we could dream up?
If we enthrone this manger-king and remove our rumps from His royal throne, we can begin playing again as care-free children and dance in His presence with unconscientious joy.
Oh—how I want my heart to jerk forward and react this way to the real royalty of Jesus!
I’m gonna release my bloody grip on my end of the tug-of-war rope of illusionary control.
The second reaction to the royalty of Jesus was ho-hum, thumb-twiddling boredom.
Matthew, the story-teller, goes on to say how Herod tried to calm his troubled reaction to this rival king.
He gathered together all of the religious know-it-alls.
With a tone of hypocritical humility, he demands to know where this “Christ” (a code word for king) would be born so that he could worship him.
With a colorless case of the blah’s, the chief priests and scribes stodgily mention that an ancient prediction mentioned something about a shepherd-ruler who would be born in Bethlehem.
Matthew mentions no excitement, anticipation, or hope-filled eager expectation from these professional, religious experts.
Imagine having a leader described as a shepherd-ruler.
This combination of descriptives awakens and inflames hope.
A shepherd compassionately cares for the concerns of his flock.
To be labeled a “ruler” in that culture was to be understood as a leader who was willing to go first as the guide.
He was the one willing to sacrifice himself, so that those who followed his “rule” or lead would stay on the safe path to the desired destination.
These institutionalized, religious specialists should have whooped and hollered hallelujahs at the mention of this coming shepherd-ruler.
Instead…they reacted with the sonic sound of silence.
I don’t want the world to hear crickets when I react to the shepherd-ruler.
What moves my heart should also move my lips.
I can’t wait to gather for worship at church on Sunday and join the chorus of those that whoop and holler hallelujahs from our head to our toes in anticipation of the coming shepherd-ruler.
The third reaction to the royalty of Jesus was explosive worship.
The wise guys from the East saw the star signaling the presence of royalty.
Their hearts began to bubble and boil and brim over the edges.
Matthew puts it this way, “they were overwhelmed with joy.”
Ever been there emotionally?
I was there when I saw the birth of my first baby.
Overwhelmed with joy.
Unable to contain this bursting joy, these wise guys fall to their knees and tip themselves over like full pitchers of praise.
What they pour out at the feet of royalty has become legendary:
- Gold, the king of the metals will shimmer and shine for this king of kings.
- Frankincense, the sweet perfume mingled with temple sacrifices, will waft through the air as Jesus, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, takes this treasure with pleasure.
- Lastly the worshippers gave Jesus myrrh, the scented oil stirred into the wine offered to him on the cross. Hours later it would be used to embalm his lifeless body before it was laid in the tomb.
I want to react and explode with sacrificial worship, showering treasures upon him because he is royalty.
How will you react to Jesus this Christmas?
Metro North Church