19th December | When the King shook the King

Matthew 2

2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 

During this season of hopeful expectancy in the coming of Jesus, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to put ourselves in the shoes of the Magi. Just like these stargazers who see the sign of King Jesus’ arrival and follow that glimmering promise in order to find him, meet him, worship him, we too can seek out Jesus and focus on worshipping him in this season. With questions of “where have you spotted signs, like the star, of God’s presence in your life?” or “How can you be like the Magi, and direct your steps towards encountering more of Jesus this advent?” we can all click off the blog, feeling predictably encouraged to search for Jesus during Christmas. Lovely classic message. Well done everyone. 

But it’s verse 3 of Matthew 2 that has arrested my attention. A King’s response to a King. An Empire’s response to the arrival of the Kingdom. 

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 

Anyone ever heard the talk about how the searching of the Magi led to the shaking of the power structures, the rulers and the whole city? Anyone spent much time in advent allowing the reality of the arrival of King Jesus into the world, our world, to shake them, and to dethrone our ideas and idols in the process? Does this ‘disturbed’ reaction of the King and his people make us want to seek out Jesus and worship him? Or are we a little more Herod than we hoped in not really wanting to meet Jesus if it means our comfort, our normal, will change?

Let us not forget that amongst the miraculous and awe inspiring encounters surrounding the birth of Jesus, a whole bunch of people in positions of world power and privilege were less than joyful. Change does not always sound like good news if you’ve been the one in charge. Let us not forget that seeking and finding Jesus, King, Saviour, friend and God himself made knowable, does not leave us the same. Does not leave our lives, our attitudes, our sense of control and power, our hopes and dreams, untouched. The King who shakes Kings is come. And his Kingdom disturbs Empires with its upside down story of good news for those least powerful and most downtrodden. So yes, by all means, get in the shoes of the Magi, searching earnestly for Jesus and following signs of his presence until he is experienced. But brace yourself for the reality of the King of Kings, who will not share his throne with another and will disturb whatever is in us that does not reflect his beautiful, loving, subversive Kingdom way. Advent is hope-filled, but it will not leave us undisturbed.

Advent Activation

Where does the idea of Jesus being King disturb you? What in your life would you say has power over you? Does anything in your life need to get off the throne and give back the seat to Jesus? 

Consider your thoughts and beliefs, your relationships, your sense of physical and financial security, your ambitions and plans, your passions and desires. If King Jesus were to be King in each of these different aspects of your world, what would have to change? Spend some time processing this challenge with Jesus and let his Spirit coach you. 

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Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

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