Let’s talk about three kings – not the ones you might be thinking. From the ivory palace of Caesar Augustus to the halted kingdom of David to the straw-filled manger throne in Bethlehem. Spoiler Alert – The humble baby in the manger is the King of kings.
David – the incomplete king
Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. (Luke 2:4-5 CSB)
Important rule for Bible study: take note of repetition! What is Luke trying to tell us? He could have just said, “they went to Bethlehem.” And he could have just said Joseph and Mary went there. But he calls Bethlehem the City of David, and says that Joseph was of the house and family line of David.
Luke is stressing something to us: Jesus is the fulfillment, not only of a prophecy about Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), but He is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. God told David in 2 Samuel 7 “I’m going to build you a HOUSE and there is one from your LINE who will reign as King forever.”
In the midst of a king’s decree, God is decreeing that His King be enthroned.
We do well not only to think about God’s original covenant with David (2 Sam. 7), but what God’s people were expecting after David.
Isaiah 11:1-9 starts out by saying: “Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him”… and then it ends with a beautiful picture of the new creation, God’s people in God’s presence, total joy and peace.
The words of Charles Wesley’s hymn sums it up when it says that “He comes to make His blessing known far as the curse is found.”
So God’s people were expecting a Davidic King to come and make everything right. And yet, king after king, decade after decade they were disappointed. Israel had become quite cynical about kings. Herod was sort of a king for them, but he was a puppet king who was nothing like David.
David was an incomplete king. Only Jesus can sit on David’s throne forever. And He is right now (see Acts 2:29-36).
Could it be that our hallmark, domesticated versions of Christmas simply expose our shallow view of Jesus? It’s as if we view Him as still a little baby in a manger. We talk about people accepting Jesus, like He needs our acceptance! We talk about Him like He’s still laying in the manger, always on retainer for us when we need Him. He doesn’t expect much. He’s there to make you feel warm inside.
But make no mistake, the night of Jesus birth was the birth of a King. Jesus is a complete King who doesn’t reside helpless in a manger, but rules and reigns with authority at the Father’s right hand. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
What does that mean for you and me? It means we dare not domesticate Jesus! He is gentle and lowly to those who surrender to Him. But those who reject His kingship He will show Himself opposed. He’s a King who accepts no rivals, allows no idols, and calls us each of us to stake our lives on Him. That means entering His kingdom through faith and repentance.
Faith is empty without repentance. And repentance will be short lived without faith.
Furthermore, this surrender to Jesus’ kingship has a context: local churches. The church has the privilege and duty of displaying Christ’s kingdom here on earth.
To churches who are divided by American politics, who is the king?
To churches turning a blind eye to unrepentant sin, who is the king?
To churches not marked by love and gospel proclamation to the lost, who is the king?
Where Jesus is King, His word will reign supreme, not just what we want to hear. Where Jesus is King, His glory will be our goal, not our own glory. Where Jesus is King, His people will seek to be unified in love so that others will not only hear them talk about the good news of the kingdom, but will see it. Jesus is a complete King and therefore He intends to complete His kingdom in and through His people. David was an incomplete King, in Jesus we don’t need to look to anyone else.