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“This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over them….And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his officers and servants.”  1 Samuel 8: 10, 14

“Fear not, daughter of Zion, Behold your King is coming sitting on a donkey’s colt.”  John 12:15

In a country that has never been governed by or necessarily embraced the concept of a monarchy, it can be difficult at times to grasp the full implications of these kings and the differences between them.  However, that is not to  say that we are free from the oversight and trappings of power and the people who wield it.  In my days in military service, when a commanding general would visit, very much effort was put forth to make the squadron look just so and much discussion was had about what should be said and as importantly what should not be said.  In the corporate arena in which I have worked, it is extremely rare the Chief Executive Officer or President who can visit or walk around the company without an inordinate amount of fuss being made over him.  So it is we see power and service played out in the examples of Saul and Jesus Christ.

Saul initially is a reluctant king.  He was not born into process of becoming king.  In fact, his people (the Israelites) had never had a king before.  They lived in a land where all around them, friends and foes alike, were governed by a king.  Yet the Israelites had not had a need of a king; they were led directly by Our Heavenly Father.  Saul only found out that he was going to be king through Our Heavenly Father’s prophet, Samuel.  Initially, Saul relied on Samuel for guidance on what to do and how to be king.  By listening to that advice, Saul was successful.  Saul’s success brought with it the trappings of kingship.  Saul had many chariots and soldiers at his command.  Saul had many fields and possessions which came partly from the spoils of the conquered but also from his own subjects.  It was in that success and from those trappings where Saul’s downfall came.  For that success went to both his head and his heart.  His head told him that he didn’t have to listen to or wait on Samuel anymore, his heart wandered from needing the close, subservient relationship, with Our Heavenly Father.

Jesus, while born in the humblest of circumstances, was always a king.  Being born of a virgin, He needed no one to proclaim Him or crown Him king.  Jesus also knew that, while on this earth, the number of His followers was going to be very few.  Jesus was not going to have any chariots or armies for Him to command.  Rarely were any great numbers going to pay Him tribute.  Although ironically enough, His greatest earthly tribute came as He was humbly entering into His beloved Jerusalem; riding on a lowly donkey.  Yet Jesus lack of earthly, kingly trappings, never caused Him to lose the Heavenly Heart of the Servant King.  With His Heart firmly planted in the Will of His and our Heavenly Father, His Eternal Kingship was assured.

Two Kings; two tales.  One king, Saul, was of this world.  God’s plan was not that the Israelite’s should need an earthly king, but they rebelled.  The Israelites saw God through the eyes of men.  They saw Samuel as a prophet and for the most part listened and followed him as being the prophet of God.  But Samuel’s sons did not follow in Samuel’s ways.  They were corrupt.  The Israelites made the mistake of seeing God through the eyes of Samuel’s corrupt sons.  If the prophet’s sons can be corrupt and they are going to judge us, then God’s power is no longer good enough.  So give us a king like the world in the guise of what other people have.  That will be good enough for us.  And should that king require from us, some of our lands, our sons and our daughters, levy taxes on us, lead us into his wars; that’s okay.  That’s what kings do.

Then there is Jesus Christ. A King, not of this earth (as he specifically said) but a King nonetheless.  His people did not ask for Him.  They did not even believe, for the most part, that He was a King.  He surely did not act like a king.  Where was His chariots, His army, the blaring trumpets that should be announcing His arrival?  Kings don’t eat with the lowly.  Kings don’t bother with the poor, let alone heal them.  A king should never wash any feet.  It is hard to see how a king would humble himself to ride into his capital, riding on a simple animal.  And no king would ever submit to dying as a common criminal when He had done no wrong.  Kings just don’t do that.

Today we have to decide just what kind of King we want to serve.  The world has many “kings” in it.  Our king may be our boss or our spouse. Our king may be a person we’re trying to impress a person we are trying to become.  Our king maybe a specific person or just a position or title we pay homage to.  The world tells us those are all proper kings to bow down to and to serve.  Or we can serve a King who first and foremost loves us.  A King who said:  “I come to serve not to be served.”  A King whose commands have to do with not serving Him but serving each other.  A King who says it is not just about Loving and adoring Him but it is as much about how we love His servants an honor each other as well.  An earthly king takes; the One and Only True Heavenly King gives.  He gives love.  He gives blessings.  He sacrificed all; even His very life so that we, His unworthy servants could live eternally with Him.  Hail to King Jesus Christ!  Forever may He reign.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father.  Thank you for the King of Kings, who is Your Son Jesus Christ.  Thank you that Christ did not come as an earthly king would, with demands of tribute and sacrifice.  Thank you that Christ came in love, willing to sacrifice all for us.  May it be, Merciful Father, that we strive to be His subjects, imitating His ways in our lives.  That we may serve all others with mercy, love and kindness and not in harsh judgement or worldly power.  That we see Jesus Christ as our King of Kings in this life and that we may come and be forever in His presence in the next we pray.  In the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him  Matthew 2:13

Three men of some considerable means.  Some say they were kings, others wise wealthy men.  That they were rich is shown by the gifts that they brought.  Not only gold which we know concerning value, but frankincense was also very expensive because it came from a tree that only grew in a few places. Myrrh was also an expensive byproduct of a bush that was used in making fine perfumes.  So that these men had access to enough wealth to acquire these gifts is a testimony to the wealth they possessed.

That they had a level of status or power is shown by the way they are greeted by Herod.  First Herod received them in the first place.  Herod, who was known for his ruthlessness and self promotion to get ahead, would not have taken the time to interact with just anyone.  He would have had to have seen an advantage for meeting with these people and hearing their story.  That Herod believed the story or at least in the possibility of the story and purposefully sends them on their way with the charge to come back and tell him of the Child so he may worship the child too (of course a lie), also shows the extent to which these men had a reputation for wisdom and divination.

Not many facts about these men are recorded in the book of Matthew, the only gospel to make a record of their actions.  Yet by their actions there are several deductions we can make.  First they were men of searching and curiosity.  For even with significant wealth and power, they knew of the potential for something more.  That is why they first searched the heavens and seeing a new portent, the star, they needed to know its meaning. These were men of determination.  After learning that the star was a sign of the birth of the King of the Jews, they used their resources to mount an expedition and would not stop until they found the place where the new King was.  They were men of faith.  When they came to Herod they did not say that they had been specifically told by an angel or in some dream giving them clear and direct instructions.  That they were not sure where they would end up is shown by them stopping to ask Herod in the first place where the King was.  So they firmly believed that no matter how long, no matter how far, their journey would end with them finding the Child King.  They were humble.  For what was the purpose of their journey?  Did they want to form some new mutually beneficial alliance with this King?  Did they want to gain some military intelligence on the strength of the New King’s armies?  No.  They knew that when they found the King, he would be a very young child.  They came for only one purpose.  To humbly bow before Him, to worship Him and present Him with gifts.  They truly did not see themselves as equals to this New King.

Today, think about how we often idolize those who have riches and power.  We sometimes envy them because they seemingly are almost unrestricted in using their wealth to fulfill their own plans and desires.  We believe their wealth gives them greater power to influence societies and governments far beyond the capacity of standard members of society.  Often we believe that power and wealth are a the center of being able to make our dreams come true.  That is surely not what these wise, wealthy and powerful men teach us.  For they searched for something more, something which could not be fulfilled by their ability to buy or persuade.  They left their comfort, which was probably considerable, to take a long and arduous journey to a small and desolate place.  They risked danger to themselves when the disregarded the command of worldly king to return to him and share their news after being told by God not to.  And why did they do all of this, make the sacrifices they did, to worship.  To worship one who, they knew even as a little child, had already achieved a greater status than they ever would.  Doesn’t sound like very many of the rich and powerful today.

So thanks be to God Almighty that we don’t have to be rich or powerful to know about Jesus Christ.  Yet lets take the lessons from these “wise” men and apply them to our lives.  May we always be open to and looking for the signs that Jesus Christ is alive and well in our lives; the signs of His Love, Mercy and Forgiveness.  Let us understand that the wealth that we have is ultimately to be used in His service and in that usage is where we will find blessings and wisdom.  That no matter our status, true, humble worship should be our response to Jesus Christ, who as the King, did not and does not demand payment of tribute or reign down harsh treatment upon His subjects.

No, this King left His palace and came down to earth for us, He died for us and now lives that we might know the Father because of His sacrifice for us.  There is no greater power or wealth then His Love for us.  Amen.

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