Behold Your King!

I like gazing upon a Nativity scene. I can overlook the historical inaccuracies of shepherds and magi and angels gathered all together under a bright star to surround a new mom and a proud dad gazing down into a straw-filled manger. ‘Cause it’s not really about them. And it’s not the bleating sheep or lowing cattle that primes the pump of imagination. No, it’s not the cast of beholders that grabs my attention, but the One who is being beheld.

“. . . you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

(Luke 1:31b-33 ESV)

. . . behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.”

(Matthew 2:1b-2 ESV)

Behold your King!

The Nativity commands it. Consider afresh God’s own Son, the Messiah, come in flesh to establish a kingdom. “Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end” (Isa. 9:7).

Immanuel. God with Us. No wonder angels shouted and sang with great joy. No wonder that we picture heaven and earth gathering together all at one time in one place to gaze upon Him declared to be born a king.

That’s the contrasting thought that runs through my mind as I read in John 19 another scene focused on the King.

No longer a baby carefully set in a manger, but a Man bloodied by a Roman flogging. No longer wrapped in swaddling clothes, but clothed in a mocking robe of purple wearing a crown of thorns twisted together and pressed down upon His brow. No longer the subject of heaven’s praise, “Glory to God in the highest.” Instead, the object of earth’s derision, the chorus about Him now chanting, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”

So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place call the Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha.  Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover.  It was about the sixth hour.  He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 

(John 19:13-14 ESV)

Behold your King!

Born to die. The serene Child in the manger come to be the sacrificial Lamb upon a cross. God in flesh “so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Heb. 2:9-10).

There’s a reason we don’t put up “crucifixion scenes” preceding Easter. Not the sort of scene that invites you to turn down the lights, grab a cup of coffee, and gaze upon it as Mary might have, who “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Yet, Behold your King!

Gaze upon the nativity, wonder at God’s great gift. And then remember that the manger lies in the shadow of a cross. That, while a glorious throne awaits, it was achieved through a nondescript tomb. That, though the King will be highly exalted and every knee will bow and confess Jesus Christ is Lord, first He would humble Himself . . . becoming obedient to the point of death . . . even death on a cross (Php. 2:8-11).

Behold your King!

Remember God’s grace. Proclaim God’s glory!

 

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