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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.”—Luke 2:8 (NKJV)
If you were crowned as the king of a country, let’s say a country that’s average in terms of size, influence and power, how would you want to be celebrated? How much pomp and circumstance would you expect for yourself? You’d probably want a band and some sort of ceremony to mark the occasion. You’d probably assemble a lot of important people from that nation to witness the occasion, as well. That only seems appropriate, right?
Now imagine you’re not the head of an average, middle-of-the-road country, but the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth. Think back to the imagery of the Roman Empire when it was at its zenith, or fast forward a few centuries to the time when the sun never set on the British Empire. You’ve become the most powerful person of the most powerful kingdom on earth. What would your celebration look like now? You’d likely go bigger and better than before. After all, only the best and most glorious the world has to offer would do. And you can be certain every important “who’s who” would be there to see your coronation.
But now let’s take an infinite leap past all of that. You’re not the king of a country or even a global superpower. Instead, you’re the ruler of the universe. Nothing in existence exceeds your authority. You have no rivals and absolutely everything that has ever been created exists to please and praise you. Your royal jurisdiction is endless, extending beyond the farthest edge of the cosmos. How would you commemorate your ascension to that throne? Our imaginations cannot even come up with an appropriate response.
Consider then, that when the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, the One through and for whom all things were created, made His royal entrance into this world, it looked completely opposite of what any of us would expect. In fact, when King Jesus was born, the circumstances were what we might call “bottom of the barrel.” You know the story: Mary and Joseph were forced on a journey to be registered by Rome. They arrive in the wayside town of Bethlehem without much means, unable to secure a proper room, sent out to an animal stable instead, and ended up having to use a feeding trough for a crib—not very glorious!
And don’t forget the esteemed delegation to witness His royal arrival, a group of shepherds who were living in the fields alongside their flocks. Don’t be deceived by the romanticized notions we’ve adopted, centuries later, of shepherds. For the record, sheep are dirty, messy, and smelly . . . and so were the men in constant contact with them. If you were a shepherd in that day, you had probably given up on having a normal social life with other people. You were an outcast who wasn’t even allowed to testify in court because you were so socially marginalized. Yet these were the first invited to witness the King’s coming!
What does this illuminate for us concerning King Jesus? It reveals that the pomp and circumstance we find so important doesn’t matter at all to Him. What does matter, though, is the message sent by the conditions He chose when He came. That message is this: He is willing to go to anyone, anywhere, even to the very bottom of the barrel. No one is too dirty, too smelly, too messy, or too anything for Him. He loves and welcomes all, especially those who’ve been cast aside and discarded by society. Though the world had no room for Him at His birth, He has room in His heart for everyone . . . and that means everyone!
Make no mistake, this King will be coming again. And when He does, it will be quite different from His arrival as an infant. His glorious might and majesty will be beyond description. But until that time, we marvel at the glory of our King’s humility, as He went into the world’s darkest corner and illuminated it with His everlasting love.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.