King of the Whos?

January 06, 2022; Rev. Kurt A. Lantz
Epiphany. Albrecht Durer.jpg

King of the Poor and Needy

 

Rev. Kurt Lantz Epiphany B Psalm 72:1-15

January 06, 2022 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON

 

 

Dear subjects of the great King,

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Why go to this coronation? Why endure the hardships of travel to pay homage to the king of such a small and troublesome place? Not since Solomon was this a kingdom of any renown. That was 700 years ago, before the Assyrians, before the Babylonians, before the Persians, before the Greeks, before the Romans. It would be understandable if these magi from the East were travelling to Rome to greet a newborn son of Caesar Augustus, but no. The Jews were a tiny and miserable people. Who would be interested in the birth of their king?

 

In 2013 media outlets around the world really blew up the news of the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge, the son of Prince William, and third in the line of succession to the British Crown. Given much less coverage is the birth of princes in the oil-rich lands of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Closer in world importance to the news a king born to the Jews would be the announcement of a new heir to the King of Bhutan.

 

Certainly the magi were compelled by a star to go and worship the newborn king (Matthew 2:2). But why a celestial sign to herald this birth so far and wide? This king of the Jews would not lead His people to conquer the great Roman Empire. This king of the Jews would not discover vast oil deposits or any other commodity to make His country rich. He would not return His nation to the military might the Davidic Kingdom or the overshadow the architectural accomplishments of Solomon or Herod the Great.

 

What kingdom deserves the attention of foreign dignitaries and the homage of heavenly bodies? What was so great about this kingdom that its promised king is so welcomed from afar, and not at all from near. The magi from the East are the only ones who seemed to pay attention to the wondrous star in the sky. The reigning monarch had no idea what was going on. The streets of Jerusalem were not decked with blue bunting. The scribes had to do some quick research to figure out what the visiting wise men were talking about (Matthew 2:4-6). Even though Bethlehem had been crowded, that was due to Caesar’s census and not to the birth of baby Jesus (Luke 2:1,7).

 

It is truly God Almighty who draws our attention to this newborn King. It is He who drew the magi by the miraculous appearance of a special star. It is He who highlighted this King born to a despised and miserable people. It is He who draws us to Jesus through the Holy Gospel, telling us what a great King Jesus is.

 

What makes a great king? We usually pay attention to the kings who rule large empires, or who are in control of great wealth. That is what brings the flashbulbs of the paparazzi. But what brings the flash of a gas giant in the night sky? What brings the magi and not the magazine reporters? They are not drawn by the prominence of the people whom this King will rule.

 

“May He judge... Your poor with justice... May He defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy” (Psalm 72:2, 4). The reason why God Almighty draws attention to this King is the same reason why the world ignores Him. He comes to defend the poor and save the needy.

 

He will not dismiss the poor but give them justice. He will not disregard the needy but do what is right by them in His perfect righteousness. He will not judge in favour of the rich in order to secure their wealth. He came in poverty because He came for the poor of the people. He came to suffer for the suffering. He was despised in order to reign for the despised. He was rejected for those who are rejected.

 

This is why God in heaven had to get the attention of the magi and bring the wise from afar to see this newborn king and to offer gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh to one who would have to flee to Egypt and return to answer the prayers of His people and die in order to save them; them, the poor and needy, who do not get the attention of the media and are not mentioned in the memes.

 

This is the King who was crowned with thorns and exalted upon a cross. This is the King whose royal robe was stained with the blood of the scourged stripes across His back. This is the King whose royal jewels are the nails piercing through His hands and feet and whose sceptre is a spear stuck into His side. This is the King who reigns for the poor and needy, become poor and needy in order to deliver them. This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews, the King of a despised and miserable people.

 

I guess that makes Him your king too. You poor and miserable sinner, God Almighty is pointing you to this King, the King who came for poor miserable sinners like you. He came a poor and needy king to save you poor and needy people. Your sins of despising the poor and neglecting those who need to hear this Gospel, put your spirit into that very spiritual caste. Your sins have you wallowing in shame and disgrace, unable to lift yourself up out of your misery. But a king has come, not to trample on you or to ignore those who are poor and needy in spirit. He has come to be their rescuer and deliverer. He has come to save them, to be their King. This is the King of the Jews.

 

There have always been poor and needy people in body and spirit, and so there will always be those who need this very King to extend His righteous reign over them. That is why David was promised that God would establish the kingdom of one of his descendants to be forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13). For every poor and needy person throughout all of history, there is a king who rules for them.

 

“He will have dominion from sea to sea... to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72:8), not just in the tiny nation of Israel, but over all nations. The poor and needy all over the world have a king in this baby of Bethlehem. Wherever and whenever the needy call, He delivers. The poor and those who have no helper, have a Saviour in this king. The weak and the oppressed have a Redeemer in this king whom the whole world would ignore, if God Almighty had not shone His spotlight upon Him.

 

This is your King, O poor and needy people. This is your King, you poor and miserable sinner. This is the King who became poor and needy for you, dying upon the cross with no one to rescue Him, so that He could rescue you from your sins and all that they have done to make your life miserable. He died naked on that cross and rose victorious from the dead to clothe you in the rich garments of His salvation.

 

God has pointed out for you His Son, Your eternal King, the crucified and risen Jesus, who reigns and rules eternally over all. This king hears your cry of repentance and He forgives all of your sins. He has redeemed you through His own death and resurrection. Because your blood is precious in His sight, He shed His own for you and He gives you His true blood to drink that all it has secured for you might be yours. He has delivered you from the oppression of the enemy by freeing your from all guilt and shame. He has clothed you in His own righteousness, the very righteousness by which He rules for you.

 

And we, the weak whom He has redeemed and the needy whom He has delivered and the poor whom He has saved, pray that not the least in our own lives but also in the reign of our earthly rulers, people far and wide will be drawn to this King as we bring justice and righteousness to the poor and needy of the land.

 

 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.