Many people want to take the Christ out of Christmas. There were even reports from Kensington, Maryland, that Santa Claus was banned from the town’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony because his presence was “inappropriate at a non-religious event”! Not only was Christ removed, but even Santa was removed for fear that Santa might make people think of Christ!
This mindest has a long history that goes back to the first Christmas. Back then Herod was the one who was destermined to stamp Christ out of Christmas – as seen in his slaughter of every young male child in Bethlehem. And why the anger? Because he had heard that a king had been born. The coming of the king provoked outrage. And the same issue is highlighted at the end of Jesus’ life: the inscription on the cross indicated that the real offence was that he claimed to be king.
But it was not just his claims to kingship that got Jesus into trouble. It was also misunderstanding about the nature of his kingship that created turnoil. Even those who recognized his kingship wanted him to be a different kind of king. And the true nature of his kingdon has been misunderstood ever since. People continue to stake a claim to his authority to back whatever cause they espouse. So for example, the abolitionists in the American civil war claimed that their eyes had “seen the glory of the coming of the Lord” on their side of the battle, while the Southerners were equally convinced he was their “King”.
And to make it even more confusing, when we read of this “coming king” we find that the Bible refers to him as the king who has come, who is coming, and who will come in the future. So we have to figure out what kind of kingship is referred to in which kind of coming.
But in all of this searching for the true nature of the kingdom, the most vital element is our willingness to respond to his kingship in whatever expression that comes to us in our day and in our lives. We must avoid Herod’s blatant rejection of his kingship, and the empty words of welcome to the king voiced in Jerusalem when Jesus rode in on a donkey. We must wholeheratedly embrace the coming of the king.
So in this, the third chapter of The Treasure in the Field, we will consider what it means to have a Coming King. Here’s what we shall see:
- Coming and Going. There are many different ways that the Bible speaks of the Coming of the King. We need to unravel them.
- Coming to take his place. When Jesus came as king in the first century he laid claim to territroy people did not want to give up. He still does.
- Coming in power. Jesus demonstrated his kingship in a unique form of power. But the crucial issue is how we respond to it.