The Trouble with Kings

by Eric Nevins

As an American the idea of a king is foreign to me. Kingdoms exist in far off and antiquated places, across raging seas, and in fairy tales. I am used to electing my leaders and criticizing them at will.

Kings are nothing like that.


…want glory.

…cling to power.

…silence criticism.

…eliminate competitors.

King Herod fits the bill in every sense of the word. He took power in Judea in 37 B.C. through political maneuvering and defeating adversaries in battle. The early part of his reign is called the “consolidating period,” which culminated in the execution of forty-five rich and powerful former supporters of Herod’s primary competitor. Guess who ended up with their wealth? Herod did what was necessary to acquire and maintain power.

Then something happened. Or, better put, someone happened.

In a sleepy, swollen town a woman gave birth to a baby. If you have ever had the pleasure of holding a newborn you understand the fragility and miracle of life. Newborns cannot support their own heads, feed themselves, or threaten in anyway. Even that newborn cry is adorable in the first weeks of life. This baby was no threat.

King Herod did not care. He ruthlessly ordered the murder of infants to protect his power. This king’s defensiveness betrays his insecurity.

Jesus is nothing like that.

Before he had made any claim to authority, angels glorified God for his birth, shepherds and wise men worshipped him, prophets rejoiced at the sight of him, and the heavens declared his advent. When he was accused falsely, he remained silent. The Apostle Paul would say that this baby-king emptied himself of the power and glory he deserved. His competitors were not flesh and blood so he defeated them with obedience in suffering instead of a battlefield.

The trouble with kings is when they have to assert authority. The real ones don’t have to.

Jesus more than fits the bill. And he sits on the only throne that matters.

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