A Royal Birth, in Poverty
“So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.” – Luke 2:16
When you think of the birth of a royal child, you expect it to be steeped in royalty. Everything about it—the place, the manner, the attention it garners, the associations it merits—have got to have the imprints of regalia. Such was the case this past July, when Prince William and Princess Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, welcomed into the world, baby prince George, third-in-line to the British throne.
With a royal birth one expects the parents of the child-to-be-born to be powerful. The parents of Jesus were not powerful. Joseph was a carpenter. Mary was an obscure virgin. They had no power to even secure a room in the town inn. One thinks that a royal birth would be viewed as prestigious by the world. Before baby prince George was born, Labour Leader Ed Miliband tweeted: "Fantastic news for Kate, William and the country. A royal baby is something the whole nation will celebrate." At the birth of Christ, only the humble shepherds celebrated, and far from the nation celebrating, when the rest of Jerusalem knew, they were troubled.
In the life of a royal child one anticipates an exalted position. Jesus Christ of Nazareth however, let go of the glory and honour of heaven, not grasping tightly His royal position, and came to earth to live in a position of poverty: the son of poor, powerless, peasant parents. When the news of a kingly birth travels, people take for granted that that the place of birth will be significant, in a palace. That is why the Magi first came to Herod’s palace to seek the “King of the Jews”. But Jesus, as we read in today’s text, was found by the Judean shepherds in a cattle cave, laid in a feeding trough. He was born in little-known Bethlehem, not in metropolis Jerusalem.
In the birth of Jesus Christ, we find see no earthly power: neither in the little infant, nor in his earthly parents. We find no prestige added by his countrymen. There was no position gained, only relinquished. The place was unthinkable.
What we do find though in the birth of Jesus Christ, is the coming of a person. The baby lying in the manger was a person for sure. This person was God’s gift to all mankind. All of Israel expected their king to have power, prestige, position, and be born in the prime place. But God’s gift was wrapped in the body of a little baby who would grow into a full person—the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This Person came to people, for people, to save us from our sins. He is the personal Saviour— yours and mine. This Person also came to rule people. He is the personal Lord, of all. In His personality all these royal expectations were present indeed—power, prestige, position, and place. First however, the baby had to live and grow in poverty before His royalty would be clearly revealed. He was born to be crucified, destined for the cross. He was also born to be crowned, destined for Heaven’s Throne. He was born a person, for people like you and I, who were destined for a personal relationship with Him. But this royal Son had to be born poor. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (II Cor. 8:9). Do you desire to become rich today? Then hurry to the manger and find the Lord, as the shepherds did. Bend your knee in submission to His Lordship. Bow before the manger where Jesus lays—the Royal One, mighty to save, majestic in rule. Bend your heart in submission to His saving work. Let Him, as Phillip Brooks wrote in O Little Town of Bethlehem, “Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”
© Kenny Damara, 2014