I shared these words as part of our Christmas musical last Sunday night, 12/13/15.
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-15
On December 20, 1997, I went to a club in Atlanta to see a rock and roll legend, a singer and songwriter named Patti Smith. Smith rose to fame in the ’70s before she retired in order to get married and raise a family. She had only just recently come out of retirement, and this was her first concert in Atlanta in 20 years.
And because it was Christmastime, she and her band were about to play that classic Elvis Christmas song, “Blue Christmas.” As she was introducing the song, she said: “You know, Elvis was once asked by a reporter what it felt like to the ‘The King.’ And he said, ‘Ma’am, there’s only one king, and his name is Jesus Christ, and he’s sitting on his throne in heaven.”
When she said this, something really strange happened: People started booing. They weren’t booing Elvis—they were booing the fact that she was talking about Jesus being king. As if to add fuel to the fire, she added: “You don’t believe Jesus is the king? Well, I do,” and the whole place erupted. It felt like a riot might break out!
I don’t know why this surprises me. When you start talking about Jesus being king, well… it tends to upset people.
It upset King Herod, for example, when the wise men from the east followed the star to Jerusalem and came into town inquiring about this baby who was the newborn king. It upset him so much so that he sent his army to Bethlehem to slaughter any newborn males two years and younger—just to make sure that this child couldn’t be a threat to his kingdom.
What about you and me? Does Jesus pose a threat to our little kingdoms. After all, while we may not have a land and a people to govern over, we do have our lives. If Jesus is king, that means he’s king over them, too! He gets to tell us how to live our lives.
That’s potentially very threatening!
We may say—along with most Americans, according to recent surveys—that Jesus is Lord, but don’t we often live as if we’re in charge—as if we’re the king of our lives?
How’s that working out for us?
Here’s some good news: Jesus our true king is calling us to abdicate our thrones, to surrender to him, to lay down our arms and let him rule over us. In return, he promises to forgive us of our sins, to make us one with him, to give us his Spirit, and to give us eternal life—which includes heaven, of course, but is also a better quality of life right now.
So… who’s going to be your king? You… or Jesus?